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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Stars Shine at Five Star World Poker Classic Prelims

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The Five Star World Poker Classic began at Bellagio on April 2 with the first of 14 preliminary events, not including super satellite tournaments, that led up to the WPT World Championship. The no-limit hold’em series is one of the most anticipated throughout the poker year, and as players descend upon Las Vegas to play the $25,000 World Poker Tour main event, they take advantage of a tournament series with a great structure and sizable fields.

The 2008 series brought some of the best players in the world to the Fontana Room at the Bellagio, and the number of well-known players who finished in the money and won some of the events confirms that skill wins out more times than not. Cash games are also reportedly in full swing as the big names brought big money into Vegas to play high stakes poker. The game is at its full potential in April in Las Vegas.

Events began on April 2 and finished on April 18 in preparation for the start of the first day of the main event on Saturday, April 19. All preliminary events have been concluded with the exception of the ladies event – now the WPT Ladies Championship – which played down to the final six women who will return on April 25th to play to the winner in front of the WPT television cameras.

The results for the preliminary events were as follows:

#1 $2000 NLHE – 237 entries
Winner: Mike Chow $139,495
Notable finishers: James Mackey (3rd), Michael Mizrachi (7th),
Billy Baxter (9th)

#2 $2500 NLHE – 148 entries
Winner: Eric Baldwin $148,860
Notable finishers: John Kalmar (3rd), David Levi (4th),
Thayer Rasmussen (6th), Shannon Shorr (7th)

#3 $3000 NLHE – 136 entries

Winner: Shawn Cunix $127,370
Notable finishers: Ralph Perry (3rd), Zach Hyman (7th)

#4 $5000 NLHE – 106 entries
Winner: Scott Clements $206,280
Notable finishers: Ted Lawson (2nd)

#5 $2000 NLHE – 180 entries
Winner: Zach Hyman $100,950
Notable finishers: Alan Smurfit (5th)

#6 $2500 NLHE – 149 entries
Winner: Billy Baxter $149,755
Notable finishers: Allen Kessler (3rd), Danny Wong (7th)

#7 $3000 NLHE – 129 entries
Winner: Michael Mizrachi $154,960
Notable finishers: Nam Le (5th), Shannon Shorr (7th)

#8 $5000 NLHE – 134 entries

Winner: Toto Leonidas $189,400
Notable finishers: Brandon Cantu (6th), Scotty Nguyen (8th)

#9 $2000 NLHE – 283 entries
Winner: Paul Smith $203,495
Notable finishers: Pat Poels (2nd), Mark Seif (8th)

#10 $2500 NLHE – 231 entries
Winner: Darrell Dicken $223,330
Notable finishers: Roy Winston (2nd), JC Tran (7th)

#11 $1500 NLHE Ladies Championship – 150 entries
Finalists: Nancy Todd Tyner (107,400), Janice Kim (32,900),
Cindy Kerslake (16,400), Vanessa Selbst (182,200),
Donna Varlotto (68,600), Van Nguyen (42,300)
Notable finishers: Karina Jett (7th), Erica Schoenberg (10th)

#12 $2500 NLHE Seniors – 137 entries

Winner: Billy Baxter $138,990
Notable finishers: Alan Smurfit (8th)

#13 $5000 NLHE – 179 entries
Winner: Michael Binger $317,280
Notable finishers: Bruno Fitoussi (2nd), Shannon Shorr (3rd),
James Mackey (4th), Erick Lindgren (5th), Lee Watkinson (7th),
Noah Jefferson (9th)

#14 $5000 NLHE – 232 entries

Winner: Christopher Bush $355,180
Notable finishers: Eric Froehlich (5th)

Winners of all preliminary events were awarded $25,000 seats into the WPT World Championship in addition to the prize money for their individual tournament.

Billy Baxter has had the best tournament results of any player thus far at the Five Star World Poker Classic with two victories and an additional final table finish. Scott Clements and Michael Binger won events to add to their already stellar poker resumes. Toto Leonidas, one of the most aggressive and steadily successful players in the game, with numerous cashes but few wins, took a victory in this series.

Shannon Shorr, who recently declared a hiatus from poker to return to college, made three final tables. Others like James Mackey and Alan Smurfit made two final tables. And two players each claimed a victory and another final table finish – Michael Mizrachi and Zach Hyman.

Despite successes in these events, the slate is clean going into the WPT World Championship. And players are anticipating a high turnout. Last year, 639 players ponied up the $25,000 buy-in to create a prize pool of nearly $15.5 million. Carlos Mortensen battled through and won the tournament in 2007 to claim the $3,970,415 first prize.

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