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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

The Round Table – Aruba…Oh Yeah, There was A Tournament Too

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After all the fun activities and partying going on down in Aruba it seems we all almost forgot...there was a big tournament to play! Nothing better than a 2.74 million dollar prize pool to help you remember, though. 548 players in total registered and appeared in Aruba to take their shot at an $800,000 first prize.

The tournament was broken into two day ones, 1a and 1b, to accommodate all of the players. I overhead many of the pros asking to play on day 1a so if they got knocked out early they could just relax for the rest of the week.

Among numerous online qualifiers, some of the players on day 1a were Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth, Pete ‘TheBeat' Giordano, Sumeet ‘Batera' Bartra, J.J. Liu, and Mike Matusow.

In recent typical fashion Annette Obrestad got a hold of a lot of chips early.  She told me, "Early in tournaments I usually play a lot of hands but I don't put a lot of chips into the pot unless I have a good hand.".  

I met up with Annie Duke on one of her breaks and she said she was playing the short stack and was pretty sure she was going to be out soon. Her prediction came true and she was busted later in the day.

Other players sent to the beach early included Anthrax lead singer Scott Ian, Johan Storakers, Phil Hellmuth, and Joe Sebok. Those that busted didn't seem to mind too much, Hellmuth played cash games, Duke went to the spa, and Sebok hung out at the pool.

Ultimate Bet
really went all out for their players and those attending the Aruba Classic this year. Every day they featured a new surprise down by the poker room. Monday night there was a massage area where you could get a free backrub and Tuesday they spiced it up with a Grey Goose Martini Bar. Everyone was invited down for a complimentary drink, or two. Spotted with an olive in their glass were Mark Seif and the ‘Poker H0' Mark Kroon.

Even though his kings were cracked, Mike Matusow was among the pros that made it to day 2. He finished the day with 28,000. Annette Obrestad was able to hold on to her chips and ended the day in 22nd place with over 30,000 in chips.

Also making it to day 2 were J.J. Liu, Sumeet Batra, Nate ‘Nate Jizzle' Pinkham, and Shaundle ‘CrAzYSiXeS66' Pruitt.

Day 1b featured a whole new group of online qualifiers with a couple of well known pros mixed in. Jim ‘KrazyKanuck' Worth, Poker H0, and Jim ‘POKERPRO33'Campbell all showed up for the action as well as David Williams and Evelyn Ng.

David was in and out of Aruba quickly when he busted in the second level. Other early bust outs included Jon ‘PearlJammer' Turner, Gary ‘Debo34' Debonardi, and Mark Seif who gave this look to me after his opponent got lucky on the river with a fourth spade to make an ace high flush over his king high flush.

Robert Williamson showed up a couple hours late on Wednesday. His wife Kate explained that he was playing cards very late. It worked out well, though, because he finished the day with 31,900 chips.

Ultimate Bet kept the drinks coming Wednesday afternoon. A champagne bar was erected by the tournament room and players knocked out found some solace after their beat. A sushi chef also prepared some crab and tuna rolls for attendees to nosh on. Ultimate Bet sure did keep their players happy and hydrated.

I ran into Freddy Deeb in the afternoon and asked him if he was down in Aruba to reclaim his title. "It's not about the title any more, I want that money," he said with a laugh. "I have the H.O.R.S.E. title and that's all I need!"

Even though Mike Matusow didn't play Day 1b it still featured some animated players in the day's lineup. After rushing back to the poker room after the one hour dinner break Jason ‘J FREE' Fretag tripped and broke his toe. "It's so broken," he said. "It's all purple."

Possibly inspired by the champagne bar and not bothered by the $5000 entry, two players decided to have a drinking contest at their table. "I had 8 beers that last level," one of the culprits, Victor Bigio, commented.

Even with his mass consumption of booze, Bigio still made it to day 2 along with Robert Williamson, Jim ‘POKERPRO33' Campbell, Jonathan ‘FireyJustice' Little and Alex ‘Traheho' Torelli.

Stay tuned to find out who walks away with the top prize in the conclusion to the Aruban Poker Adventures!

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