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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

The Round Table – Sights and Sounds from the Los Angeles Poker Classic

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Although there was some confusion on the starting time of the Los Angeles Poker Classic this year, almost all of the 665 players that registered made it there on time. Last year the LAPC began at a leisurely 3:30 pm and this year they mixed things up and kicked off at 12:30.

One person who wasn’t happy about that change was Daniel Negreanu. He had just flown in from Europe and didn’t get much time to relax before the new start time.

Besides the murmur of voices and occasional laughter, the sound of chips being rifled was overwhelmingly exuding from the ballroom where the tournament was being held.

Most of the field was seated upstairs with only five tables being set in the high limit area down below.

The tables that were downstairs included a pretty stacked table with two WSOP Main Event Champions, Huck Seed and Phil Hellmuth as well as excellent tournament players Kido Pham and Young Phan.

Back upstairs, the current CardPlayer Player of the Year, David Pham was seated with Layne Flack and Jared Hamby.

Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen, who is having a great LAPC showed up just after the start of the event. Men took down two preliminary hold’em events earlier in the month here at the Commerce and cashed for over $100,000.

Isabelle Mercier was back in the States and looked like a California girl herself with a newly blonde mane.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss came out for the event and found himself seated at Mimi Tran and World Series rap superstar Prahlad Friedman’s table.

As for other ‘celebrities’ Rick Solomon was spotted sans Pamela Anderson. And a couple of tables over sat talk show host Montel Williams who ended up finishing the day near the top of the pack.

As I was walking through the tables Erick Seidel stopped me to chat about music. He said he had been listening to Shelby Lynne lately and suggested I borrow his iPod to check her out. Great suggestion!

The ‘Survivor’ Jean-Robert Bellande was in the house and in good spirits after just signing a deal with Bodog and being pumped to head to the NBC Heads up next weekend to partake in the matches. He was seated next to Evelyn Ng along with Danny Smith and David Plastik.

There was a reunion on one of the outer tables where WSOP Main Event Champion Jerry Yang found himself seated at the same table as Lee Watkinson. The LAPC wasn’t as good for them, as both were busted later in the afternoon.

A lot of pros kept turning in their seats to check out the basketball being broadcast from the Commerce’s new flat screen TVs around the room. Mike Sexton and Peter ‘Nordberg’ Feldman both kept an eye on the games as well as sports fanatic Erick Lindgren, and Josh Arieh.

Greg Mueller spent the earlier part of his day walking around and chatting with friends instead of taking his seat to the right of Alex Jacob.

One couple that did get confused about the starting time was Jennifer Tilly and Phil Laak. They quickly found their seats near the rail and at side by side tables. Tilly took her spot in the 4 seat at the already crazy table of Brett Jungblut in seat 1, Erick Lindgren in seat 2, Josh Arieh in seat 3, and Nenad Medic in seat 8.

I caught up with Brett Jungblut on the first break to ask him about his super stacked table. “They are harmless now,” he explained, “but when the blinds go up they will be tough. This is a pretty sick table.”

Everyone likes to spend their breaks for a tournament differently. Some run towards the building line at the restrooms, others like Erick Lindgren and Phil Ivey chat with friends. Amir Vahedi opted to smoke a cigar, while last year’s heads up champion Paul Wasicka relaxed alone on a couch with his iPod, and Raymond Davis loudly discussed a hand he just played.

Gavin Smith was in good spirits as usual
; spending his breaks chatting with friends and WSOP circuit event nemesis Peter Feldman. Decked out in matching beige shirt and hat, Gavin said things were going good so far at his table.

Gavin’s radio partner in crime, Joe Sebok, had a different answer to how things were going for him. “Things are going great!” He told me. “Wait, I mean in life things are going great. In the tournament I am getting my ass kicked,” he said with a laugh. Sebok kept getting ‘kicked’ and busted before the end of the day.

Just before Phil Hellmuth’s table broke downstairs, Phil bet out on the flop and the 3 people in the hand including Huck Seed and Young Phan folded. Phil shook his head, laughed and showed a flopped set of fours. Young smiled and gave Phil a knuckle pound. A lot of railbirds were disappointed as Hellmuth was moved to a table deep inside the pack, back upstairs.

Last year’s LAPC winner Eric Hershler
was seated near the rail and looked serious in his dark sunglasses and headphones. He said things had been pretty flat at his table so far and that it was a pretty good draw but two new players that seem tough just joined.

John Phan returned from one of his breaks later in the day with dark shades on, his signature vodka Redbull concoction in hand and a smile. That smile didn’t last long though, and Phan was busted later in the afternoon.

Over at another stacked table of Bill Edler, Amir Vahedi, Jeff Madsen, and Mark Seif, Vahedi found himself in a predicament. After a heart came on the river Amir bet and seat 6 raised him. Amir reluctantly folded an 8 high flush and the guy showed him an ace high flush. Nice lay down!

Dutch Boyd was seen wandering around the Commerce later in the day after busting. Others that didn’t make it through included Shane Schleger, Scott Fischman, Hasan Habib, Mike Matusow, Liz Lieu, and Daniel Negreanu.

Those that will be showing up for day two and with a healthy stack are David Singer, the new World Poker Tour face Antonio Esfandiari , Anna Wroblewski, Theo Tran, Justin Bonomo, and Dan Harrington.

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