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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

First Five Days of the Foxwoods Poker Classic

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Twice during each season, the World Poker Tour travels to Foxwoods, a resort including the world’s largest casino located in the lush forests of Mashantucket, Connecticut. Along with the WPT, and its reporters and television production crew, players come from all over the world to play the $10,000 buy-in tournament. This year, the field was 346 deep with a heavy concentration on East Coast players.

Day 1: Friday, April 4th

When registration was complete, the player count was 346, creating a $3,230,014 prize pool and a $967,300 first prize. The total number of players was down from last year, mainly due to a great number of tournaments on the horizon and exhaustion from the busy schedule at the beginning of the year. Some players won’t miss a Foxwoods tournament because of the structure, short days, starting stacks of 30,000 in chips, and the respect with which the casino treats the players. Others find the travel to the out-of-the-way casino to be a daunting task, and they contend that the payout schedule is too top-heavy.

The 346 players who did make the trip got off to a typical start with numerous eliminations. The first notable player to leave the tournament room was David “The Dragon” Pham, who busted just short of the end of level one. Other early exits included Amnon Filippi, Noah Schwartz, Hasan Habib, Isaac Haxton, Tom Dwan, Bernard Lee, Justin Bonomo, TJ Cloutier, Cliff Josephy, and Lee Markholt.

At the end of the day, there were 218 players left; not in that number and probably trying to find a late-night flight home were Nick Schulman, David Williams, Allen Kessler, John Phan, Alex Jacob, Tuan Le, and Sully Erna.

Sitting atop the leader board was last year’s champion, Raj Patel, with 192,000. Paul Snead and Brock Parker were close behind, and others making up the top ten included Barry Greenstein, Erick Lindgren, and Eugene Katchalov. Twelve players bagged and tagged over 100,000 in chips each and would return on Day 2 with some momentum.

Day 2: Saturday, April 5th

With a little more than half of the original field, the second day was bound to slow a bit, but the first level saw the field dwindle from 218 to 170 players. Some of the recognizable players in that group were Phil Ivey, Bill Gazes, Chris Reslock, and Beth Shak.

As the day went on, the prior day’s chip leader Raj Patel continued to amass chips and stay near or at the top of the board. Others who were unfortunate enough to go the opposite direction and get rid of all of their chips were Men Nguyen, Joe Sebok, Bill Edler, JC Tran, Hevad Khan, and Victor Ramdin.

Besides Patel, another of last year’s final table players made a solid run on Day 2 – Tony Cavezza. He shot up toward the top of the leader board early in the day and sat with more than 250,000 in chips but eventually lost it all toward the end of the day. The man they called “Bagels” would not get back to the final table in back-to-back years. But still hanging in there was last year’s second place finisher, Paul Matteo.

When it was all said and done, only 75 players remained. Paul Snead overtook Patel to become the chip leader with 472,700, though Patel was a solid second place with nearly 400,000. Eddie Ting was in third place with Ted Forrest behind – both with over 300,000. Former WPT champ Joe Tehan was also in the top ten with 287,300.

Day 3: Sunday, April 6th

This was to be the day that 40 of the players would make it into the money, but it would be a longer road than expected. Play slowed in the middle of the day, even more so when hand-for-hand play began six hours into the day. Some of the players eliminated prior to the money bubble were John Juanda, Kathy Liebert, Young Phan, Vincent Procopio, Erick Lindgren, Nam Le, Alan Goehring, and Barry Greenstein.

Once the bubble did burst, with the elimination of Svetlana Gromenkova, the field seemed overrun with amateurs or players who don’t travel the larger tournament circuit. Even so, there was some tough play that took the number of remaining contenders down to 33 by the end of the day.

Beginning with the 40th place finisher and going in order of elimination, the following players all left with $22,610 for their efforts: Mike Crawley, Kevin Mason, Joe Tehan, Jason Suh, David Stefanski, Scott Blackman, and Ken Adams.

Allen Bari sat with the most chips at the end of the day; his total of 814,500 was quite a bit ahead of any others. Eddie Ting, Raj Patel, and Paul Snead followed, with Joe Simmons in fifth. Paul Darden and Erik Seidel were also in the top ten, each in the 400,000 chip range.

Day 4: Monday, April 7th

The day started without knowing whether they would play down to the final 18 players or the final ten, but as the action turned out to be moving at a snail’s pace, it seemed that they might be happy just to get to 18. Finally, it was the aggressive pros taking advantage of the amateurs’ fears that sped up the process.

Ted Forrest and Erik Seidel were two of the most aggressive players of the day – both chipping up, eliminating opponents, and climbing steadily up the leader board. Ultimately, with rising blinds and antes, and some players not allowing the slow play to continue, the day ended with only ten players.

The following are the bustouts in order beginning with 33rd place: Daniel Woolson, Phil Bodey, Chris McCormack, Paul Snead, Jim Petrillo, Alex Kamberis, Jim Silva, Eddie Gravalese, Eddie Ting, Paul Darden, Jim Martin, Kenny Chanthamala, Brock Parker, Eddie Sabat, and Rich Meli.

When they reached 18 players, everyone redrew to take seats at the last two tables. The eliminated players in 18th through 10th place were as follows: Michael Santoro, Matt Brady, Ben Zamani, John Spadavecchia, Joe Simmons, Chris Dombrowski, Randy Spain, Raj Patel, and Steve Weinstein.

With the downward spiral and subsequent bust of Raj Patel, there is no chance of a repeat winner. (Many who witnessed the entirety of the final table in 2007 said it was the worst final table poker they had ever seen. It can’t be assumed that this was the majority opinion, but there may have been a little sigh of relief heard somewhere in the distance when the last of the 2007 final table players busted this year.)

Day 5: Tuesday, April 8th

Nine players returned to play down to the final six. While most anticipated being in the tournament room for less than an hour, they were surprised that it took several.

The players came into the day with Erik Seidel and Adam Katz as the only ones with more than two million in chips, and Ted Forrest and Andrew Barta the only players above one million. Those four players would survive the day.

Not so fortunate was Michael Farris, who came in with the shortest stack. His first all-in move ended in a chopped pot, but several hands later, he was eliminated by Robert Richardson whose pocket 7’s held up against K-10. Farris left with $40,378.

Allen Bari was another short stack who pushed with A-Q but Barta called with pocket Kings. He flopped a King for trips, and Bari was out in eight place for $48,450.

Natale Kuey was the next to make a stand with his smaller stacks and A-3 up against Seidel’s K-3. He doubled up and made another run at it. Kuey moved with A-K and was called by Tedd Forrest who had pocket sixes. The board turned another six for Forrest, and Kuey was eliminated in seventh place with $71,061.

The final table was set to be played out on Wednesday, April 9th at Foxwoods. The players are ready to go as follows:

Seat 1: Erik Seidel – 3,820,000
Seat 2: Frank Cieri – 403,000
Seat 3: Robert Richardson – 526,000
Seat 4: Ted Forrest – 2,347,000
Seat 5: Andrew Barta – 1,522,000
Seat 6: Adam Katz – 2,311,000

Will one of the seasoned veterans of the game – Seidel or Forrest – be able to hang on to their large stacks and take the title? Forrest already has one WPT victory under his belt, and Seidel is in search of his first. The other players will have to contend with those two threats, but it’s certainly been done before. As always, it’s anyone’s game.

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