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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

The Round Table – Sights and Sounds from Aruba – We’ve Landed!

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I’m off to the Aruba Poker Classic in…well duh, Aruba!

After meeting up with Adam ‘Roothlus’ Levy and his brother at the terminal in Miami we hopped on the plane and I promptly lost money playing gin with Adam – after I just taught him the game. Awesome.

After a crazy techno infused cab ride to the hotel – which by the way Adam excitedly told me how he loves to listen to techno while playing poker – we arrived at the Radisson Aruba Resort and met up with my friend Trishelle that had arrived earlier in the day.

We all grabbed a cocktail at the open bar and visited with some other players that were hanging around the area, including Joe Sebok, Liv Boeree, Annie Duke, Scott Ian (Anthrax guitarist) and last year’s winner Travis ‘TravestyFund’ Rice.

The next morning Annie held a poker camp to freshen up the players before the tournament the next day. Several other pros attended and dealt hands to the attendees and discussed hand play.

After the camp Annie invited me to yoga with her but instead of going Adam, Trishelle and I went parasailing. Annie has been passionately attending Bikram yoga (when the room is heated to around 105 degrees) so she and Matt Savage had an instructor fly down to Aruba to hold sessions for them.

The welcome party was held on the beach and featured multiple open bars, and buffets.

There was quite an interesting surprise at the party when poker player Jeff Pursell got on the stage, dropped to his knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Colleen Jacobs, who he had met playing online. They had both made the final table of an Omaha tournament a year ago and the rest is history.

The next afternoon the tournament kicked off. It was pretty much a sea of unknowns to me but I did spot a few familiar faces.
Perry Friedman was talking to Justin Phillips at the table next to him about Everybody Loves Raymond. Justin evidently has figured out the name of the TV show since his WSOP Main Event where he called tablemate Ray Romano’s show Everybody Loves Raymer.
 
Even though they weren’t playing today Cliff ‘JohnnyBax’ Josephy and Tracy Scala were spotted hanging out near the tournament room telling funny poker stories to Adam Levy.

One table, that was referred to as a ‘dream final table,’ included pros Matt ‘GrinderMJ’ Juttelstad, Jeremy ‘chipsteela’ Menard, Dylan ‘imalucsac’ Linde, and Joe ‘ender555’ Ebanks.

Speaking of online, Craig ‘MrCasino’ Gray was one of the first pros to bust before the first break of the day. Along with him, other bust outs included Perry Friedman, James Van Alstyne, Pat Poels, and recent bracelet winner Jason Young.

Cardrunners founder Taylor Caby survived the day with 21,250 chips even though he was at one point down to 4000 chips when the blinds were 200-400.

The final chip leader of the day was Allie Prescott who you may remember from ESPN sweating out a million dollar bet against Gavin Smith at a WSOP Circuit event a couple years ago.

Of the 262 day 1a entries, 150 made it on to day 2.

Day 1b kicked off with a bang when one player was bluffed out of a big pot and went psycho! He slammed the table, paced around and of course did some yelling.
 
Allen Kessler also got into an intense hand early when he ran K-K into A-A. After the king fell promptly on the flop he sheepishly said, “I’ve never won that before in my life.”

Tiffany Michelle and current Aruba Poker Classic title holder Travis Rice shared a table together although neither could get anything going and were eliminated from the tournament early into the day.

Phil Hellmuth was unexpectedly quiet at his table, but only because he wasn’t there. He was on his way to Aruba after busting late in the WSOP Europe Main Event and in his absence sat a stick with a photo of him taped to it.

Some players were betting how many chips he would have by the end of the night. He wasn’t expected till 11pm which was coincidently the same time the tournament ends for the night. Hellmuth eventually busted in the last level of the day, even though he held the winning hand, because he wasn’t there.

Layne Flack and a Deal or No Deal poker fan contestant that Annie had given lessons to after she won over $300,000 on the show were seated together although neither made it to the end of the day.

Speaking of Layne, he shared an interesting fact with me. At this year’s WSOP he broke a record previously held by Stu Ungar. As of July 2008 Layne has 12 final tables, 6 wins. Ungar’s legacy was left with 10 final tables 5 wins.

Adam Levy had a rollercoaster day. He was down to 5600 at one point and then over 19,000 a few minutes later.

“There was like 6 hands I played and won 5 of them in a row,” Adam said.

Cliff ‘Johnny Bax’ Josephy shared that he had a tough table that included several good online players as well as pros Chip Jett and Chris Bell.

I took a break from the tournament later in the afternoon to go tubing with Liv Boeree, Joe Reitman, Trishelle and others. There is a video crew filming the event and they wanted to show some footage of what Aruba has to offer. Liv was by far the tubing champion, only falling off once after the rest of us tumbled repeatedly.

Back in the tournament room James ‘KrazyKanuk’ Worth, James Campbell and Dee Luong were all eliminated.
 
Those who made it through and joined the players from day 1a included Josephy, Chip Jett, and Michael Binger.

The total number of entries for the tournament came to 551, which doesn’t include the 17 players that never showed up in Aruba. Since they were preregistered, their buy-ins were still added to the prize pool and gave players an extra $85,000 incentive.
That brought the total prize pool to $2,672,350 with $1,000,000 guaranteed for first.

291 players remained after the first two day 1’s and returned to play the following day. Stay close for all the behind the scenes info. 

*Like a wheel, the Round Table is a circle of adventures and victories, beats and stories, and life as it unfolds with a cast of characters that may, or may not, have joined you in your home on a local TV program. There's so much more to poker than what you see on TV. Although I won't use canvas, I will paint the full picture for you as I follow the lives of some of your favorite (and some unknown) players. The Round Table is an ongoing series of life, viewed full circle.*

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