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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

The Round Table – Sights and Sounds from the Bellagio $25,000 World Championship Weekend

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The pros have come out from all over the world to participate in one of the biggest tournaments of the year.

Just before the $25,000 event started, Jennifer Harman hosted the second annual charity poker tournament for the SPCA on Friday afternoon and lots of pros came out to show their support including Barry Greenstein, Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Michael Mizrachi, Jeff Madsen and TJ Cloutier – who I busted. I took 11th and from what I know the highest finishing pro was Kevin O’Donnell who finished 10th. Tiffany Michelle from PokerNews took 8th. First place finisher, Seth Dupre took home a $10,000 seat into the 2008 WSOP Main Event.

The Championship Event of the WPT Kicked off on Saturday, April 19th and was split up into two day 1’s to accommodate all of the players. There were a lot of pros noticeably absent from the first day, which was predicted by pro Dan Shak. “That’s why I decided to play today,” he told me.

Those that also decided to play the first day included David Williams, Dario Minieri, Erik Seidel, Cliff Josephy, Eric Froehlich, and Nick Schulman. The total number of day 1a players ended up at 210.

With the bigger buy-ins come the tougher fields. There aren’t too many fish in an event like this and almost every player was a known name and sitting at a stacked table. Two of the toughest of the day featured Hoyt Corkins, Mike Sexton, Phil Hellmuth, Adam Levy, Lee Markholt, Bruno Fitoussi, and Barry Greenstein. And at another table were Jonathan Little, Jonathan Westra, Brandon Cantu, Michael Gracz, Andy Black, Joe Sebok and Scott Clements.

Also with an unfortunate draw were Tom McCormick, Daniel Alaei, Roy Winston, Kristy Gazes, and Doyle Brunson.

Those that busted on day 1 included Eric Froehlich, Ted Lawson, Scott Clements, Hasan Habib, and Jonathan Little.

Brandon Cantu finished the day in the top five chip counts along with Billy Baxter, Darrell Dicken and Steve Billirakis.

This weekend wasn’t just about poker; there was a birthday to celebrate too. Clonie Gowen and I went out with Chris Ferguson for dinner and drinks to celebrate his big day on Saturday night. We didn’t stay out too late, though, as both of them had to play the next day.

Day 1b of the tournament kept the Fontana Lounge, where the tournament is being held, filled to capacity with 335 players.

All of the notable players were out in full force, including Mike Matusow, Gavin Smith, Kevin Saul, Freddy Deeb, Beth Shak, Bryan Devonshire, Jennifer Harman, Phil Ivey, Dan Harrington, Huck Seed, Jerry Yang, Sam Farha, Amir Vahedi, Daniel Negreanu and Howard Lederer.

One of the toughest draws of the day, and possibly of the tournament featured Kathy Liebert, Paul Wasicka, David Baker, Chris Ferguson, Jordan Rich, Erica Schoenberg, Nenad Medic and David Chiu.

You may have noticed two names that were playing day 1b that haven’t been around the WPT events in a couple years, Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson. Both have come back to play after the WPT restructured their player agreement and clarified the player rights.

Jennifer Tilly was one of the early eliminations of day 1b, along with Beth Shak, Phil Laak, Allen Cunningham, Justin Bonomo, Gavin Griffin, Andy Bloch and Lee Watkinson.

Those that not only made it to day 2 but got a hold of a lot of chips were: Kenny Tran, Robert Mizrachi, Carlos Mortensen, Jordan Morgan, David Benyamine, and Tom Dwan who was wearing a silly hat after a lost prop bet.

That was my weekend in Vegas for the Championship – you can find out what happens and who makes it down to the final six when the tournament airs on the World Poker Tour’s new home on The Game Show Network or check back as PokerWorks will have the information.

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