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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

2008 World Poker Open – World Poker Tour $10,000 event – Day 1A

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Tunica, for many poker professionals, is an inconvenience... a stop in the road they feel required or obligated to attend because of the history of the event and its attachment to the Binion family... and because it is a televised World Poker Tour event. I remember once riding with Daniel Negreanu in a van back to the Memphis Airport and heard him complain about various things in Tunica, especially in regards to the food choices. He's not the first person I've heard these complaints from and perhaps the most over used excuse after a bust out in the main event here is "I just wanted to get out of here."

Why even bother coming?

Are the food and entertainment choices minimal in Tunica? Yes.

Should that be a concern when you're here to try and win a poker tournament? No.

The Goldstrike hosts a damn good tournament. It has in my opinion, always been one of the best run tournaments on the poker circuit. They treat their players well (certainly better than the big corporation known as Harrah's does at the World Series of Poker) and try and provide them with everything they need.

In fairness to Negreanu, I did hear him tell Ken Lambert (director of operations for the tournament) the other night in the lobby, that he loved what they had done with the place and that was a huge improvement from past years.

I speak with Gavin Griffin for a few moments before the tournament kicks off. Gavin is sans the pink hair he sported over the summer. We talked about cancer and its devastating effect on people and their loved ones. This is something I have firsthand experience with as I lost my mother a little over a year ago to cancer. Gavin sported the radical hairdo in support of his girlfriend who had overcome breast cancer. Three years later and he said she is doing great. I did ask him how poker was going and he said it had been up and down... cash games good... tournaments not so much. Unfortunately for Gavin, that trend would continue as he would not make it through the end of Day One.

I asked Johnny Grooms why this is a two day event since the Goldstrike could easily accommodate the full field in one day. “A couple of reasons,” he tells me. “First, we wanted to accommodate players playing in the tournament at the Grand. Second, we wanted to give players playing in the Aussie Millions time to get back and play in this event. We would have lost 15 or so Full Tilt pro's if we had only one day.” Only 117 players played today (including 4 women), but Johnny expected a bigger number tomorrow for the aforementioned reasons and the fact that there were no NFL games being played (give a poker player a choice on which day to play and I can assure you many of them will take the non conference championship date). Of course, having players distracted by watching a football game might be an edge. Hmmmm.

Grooms kicks off the tournament with the standard announcements and throws in a line which I think not one person believes... “The NFL games will not be available in this room today.”

Players start with 20,000 in chips and the blinds at 50-100. They are playing five 90 minute levels with no dinner break, meaning play will end at approximately 8:30 p.m. local time.

Among the notable players in the field today are Dutch Boyd, Kido Pham, Hoyt Corkins, Devilfish, Humberto Brenes, Bradley Berman, Andy Philachack, Steve Billirakis, Toto Leonidas, David Pham, Chris Reslock, Mark Seif, JC Tran, Nam Le, Surindar Sunar, and Jamie Gold.

Scared hand of the day:

David Pham raises to 300 from late position and is flat called by the button. The big blind moves all in for oh.... 20,000. Pham and the button laugh and quickly fold and the big blind states “I didn't want them to get two pair.” Does this mean he's going to move all in anytime he plays a hand because they can always “maybe” get two pair?

Amateurs who are not used to playing with professionals can often make unusual plays like the one I just described. Twice today, there were situations where an amateur (as far as I know) made mistakes with their chips. Both times the professional in the pot with them tried to take advantage of the mistake by making a re-raise. Both times the professional in the pot ended up losing the hand. Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for.

The first hand involved Ted Lawson and an amateur on a Q-10-3 two diamond flop. The amateur decides to call Lawson's flop bet but inadvertently throws out one too many yellow chips. He tells the table that he just meant to call but Lawson wants his action and says “it's in there now.” The amateur is required to raise and he makes a minimum raise to which Lawson predictably re-raises. The amateur seems resigned to playing the hand regardless... either that or he is tilting and/or thinks Lawson is full of it... because he moves all in. Lawson calls with A-Q and while he is ahead of the amateur, he's not that far ahead as the amateur has Q-9 of diamonds. The turn is a jack giving the amateur more outs and the river is an 8 of diamonds. Just like that Lawson is out.

The how to lose a monster pot to a calling station hand of the day:

Flop the nut straight with 8-7 of spades on a 9-6-5 two heart flop. Decide not to slow play and bet the pot... 1,000. Receive the call you want. The turn is a 3 of diamonds putting two diamonds on the board. Well if he called 1,000, he'll probably call 2,000 right? Bet 2,000. Receive the call you want. The river is an ace of diamonds. Your opponent leads out for 4,000. Oh sweet you think... he must have hit two pair with that ace. You move all in. Your opponent calls. He has 6-4 of diamonds for runner, runner flush.

As Mike Matusow would say... “Poker, poker, it's all skill.”

In addition to Gavin Griffin, Mark Seif makes an early exit at the hands of David Pham. Gotta hand it to Seif, he's either out early or makes it deep... although lately it seems like it's more of the former than the latter.

Early on Dutch Boyd, Surindar Sunar, David Pham, and Jamie Gold found themselves sitting pretty having 35K or more. On the other end of the stick, Devilfish, J.C. Tran, Hoyt Corkins, and Daniel Negreanu had an uphill battle to fight as they were all under 10K.

I notice, making my walk through, that one of the tables contains three WPO bracelet winners from this year. The pros might not know who they are but I do, and two of them are Jonathan Tare and Matt Culberson who both made multiple final tables. From what I had seen of their play, I expected them to do well in this event. They would not disappoint me
Negreanu fights back from the short stack and even gets up to 40K at one point. One of the hands that helped him get there was a confrontation with the talkative Jamie Gold who, as is his custom, started talking and acting up a storm once he moved all in against Negreanu. “You got me,” Gold said, putting on his jacket and standing up. Negreanu almost seems to believe him and the two banter back and forth for nearly five minutes. Negreanu tells Gold that he's done a great acting job... Oscar worthy... because he doesn't know what to do.

He ultimately makes the call though and Gold just taps the felt and mucks his hand and is eliminated from the tournament. Gold hasn't done much since his WSOP main event win and I think it's safe to say that not many people are surprised by that fact. It would not all be rosy for Negreanu, however, as he would be eliminated shortly before the end of day one.

Hoyt “I'm All In” Corkins started doing just that in the middle stages of the day. It's a good thing Phil Hellmuth, his arch nemesis, was not at his table... he would have gone nuts. It was working well for Corkins as no one was calling and before the day would end, Corkins would be back in contention after having been a short stack at one point.

Most interesting and questionable play by a professional of the day award:

Keith Lehr raised from the cutoff to 1K. The button re-raised to 3.5K. Lehr either has a big hand or thinks the button is re-stealing because he re-pops it to 10K. The button doesn't waste much time before moving all in for an additional 6K or so. There is now 27K in the pot. Lehr has approximately 15K in front of him. He folds, flashing a 2, even getting 4.5:1 on his money. The button says he had A-K. Despite the misstep, Lehr would bounce back and have over 30K by the end of play.

Devilfish has done notoriously well in this tournament. Today was not his day, however, as he was knocked out when his queens ran into two players who had A-K. Usually that's a good thing for pocket queens but when a king came on the flop, his fate was sealed.

Former WPT event winner Jose Rosencrantz wins a huge pot against another relatively big stack with pocket aces against jacks. Why do people feel like they have to go all in with jacks pre-flop so often? After the hand, Jose had nearly 85K... a stack size he would maintain through the end of the day.

Play ended with 64 of the original 117 players remaining.

The unofficial top 10 included my “sleeper” Matt “Cubby” Culberson as the chipleader with nearly 100K. Rounding out the unofficial top 10 were:

Antonio Salorio 90K
Matt Sterling 87K
Johnny Price 86K
Ken Christopher 85K
Jose Rosenkrantz – 82K
Chris Ingram 81K
Chris Reslock 75K
William Payne 73K
Aaron Lasater 71K

Other notable players and their approximate chip counts:

Dutch Boyd 66K
Hoyt Corkins 65K
Jonathan Tare 62K
Nam Le 50K
An Tran 46K
David Pham 44K
Kido Pham 38K
Humberto Brenes 36K
Surindar Sunar 35K
Keith Lehr 33K
Toto Leonidas 26K
Brad Berman 20K
Freddy Deeb 14K
Steve Billirakis 6K

Play will resume with Day 1B action tomorrow at noon. Check back here to see who made it through to Day 2!

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