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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Danny Nelson and Team Aced Capture Titles at Dream Team Poker

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The team poker concept came into the poker arena several years ago, but it was Dream Team Gaming that took it to another level. The company was formed in 2007 and held its first invitational tournament in late 2008, which turned into an event that raised eyebrows in interest and garnered praise from those who played in it. After several months, the first public Dream Team Poker event was announced, and registration opened for the March 27-29 event in Las Vegas.

While there was some trepidation about the number of teams that would pony up the $500 + $50 per person for a three-person team, the faith in the concept was there. And soon, they realized that there was no worrying to do. The spots sold quickly, and more than a week before the event, it was announced that the 170 team openings were sold out. Caesars Palace was unable to accommodate more than the 510 players expected.

When the players arrived in Las Vegas and began the official registration process, it was revealed that only 148 teams were in attendance. No explanation was given for the rather significant difference in numbers, but the poker room full of 444 players on those 148 teams was deemed a success nevertheless. The prize pool was $222,000, and it was divided between the team and individual prizes. There was $133,200, or 60 percent of the prize pool, set aside for the top seven teams, first to receive $59,940 to split amongst the three team players. And there was $88,800, or 40 percent of the pool, awaiting the individuals who finished in the top 25 spots of the event, with $24,063 of it going to the ultimate individual winner.

Explained simply, the format of the tournament is that the teams of three players each will begin the tournament by playing their own stacks individually, and each person will be given a score based on their finish in the event, i.e. finishing in 400th place receives a score of 400. Team scoring would then take the best two scores for each team, add them, and come up with the lowest overall score to determine the winning team. Team conferences are allowed in order to maximize the team strategy aspect, but individuals are also seeking to do their best to cash in the tournament independent of their teammates.

When the players were at their respective tables and donning their Dream Team Poker jerseys, complete with team names, the company’s CEO, Daniel Delshad, took the floor with his father, business partner, and mayor of Beverly Hills, California, Jimmy Delshad, to introduce the event. They were joined by Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley for the command to shuffle up and deal the cards, and the tournament was underway in the afternoon of March 28.

Action began with several players making their way to the exit, including Ed Schoenberg of the El Diablos, who left daughter Erica and Dave Stann to hold on for the team. And only a short time into the day’s play, an entire team was eliminated, as David Williams, Matt Giannetti, and Nenad Medic closed the books on the chances of Team Slackers.

As the day wore on, other teams were eliminated in full, such as Team Tao of Pokerati (Dan Michalski, Pauly Maguire, and Shane Schleger) and Team Six Hands Four Nuts and a Rack (Jerry Yang, Erik Aude, and Kristy Gazes). By the dinner break, there were just over 100 players remaining, but the plan was to play down to 27 by the end of the night, so the Day 1 festivities were far from over.

After dinner, more teams went down, like Team Favorites (Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, and L.A. Lakers owner Jerry Buss), Team PokerRoad (Joe Sebok, Jeff Madsen, and Courtney Harrington), and the aforementioned El Diablos. As the field thinned to the 27 mark, the tournament staff decided to let the players vote to end the day or play down to the money, which would be at 25 players. The vote was not conclusive, but it seemed to be Jamie Gold who convinced everyone to play for two more eliminations.

When that happened, the first day of action came to an end with John Regis of Team Poker Masters in the chip lead with 480K, followed by Philip Rousseaux of Team Claddaghs, Gerald Percival of Team Runner Runner, Rob Bisano of Team Pocket Rockets, and Tom McEvoy of Team #1. The only team with two players remaining was Team Aced, with Ashley Nataupsky and Jamie Gold still representing.

The 25 finalists returned for Day 2, along with their formerly-eliminated teammates who kept hope alive for a solid team finish based on their partners still in the running for a high score. As the day progressed, the following players were ousted in the individual money category:

25th place:  Thor Hansen - IPPA Tour ($888)
24th place:  Kia - Smoking Aces ($888)
23rd place:  Marsha Waggoner - #2 ($888)
22nd place:  Phil Palermo - Hellmuth Busters ($888)
21st place:  Michael Sims - Ari’s Training Center 4 ($888)
20th place:  Arshid Torkamaw - The Clones ($888)
19th place:  Jarrod Klein - Party at the Mansion ($1,066)

With 18 players remaining, it was determined that the team scoring could conclude that Team Aced had won first place, as Gold and Nataupsky were still in the tournament. That guaranteed Team Aced a grand prize of $59,940 to be split amongst the three players on the team. Other teams, however, were still in the running for the other payouts.

18th place:  Paul Ringer - NLP ($1,066)
17th place:  Bobby Ramirez - West Coast Rounders ($1,066)
16th place:  Jeremy Ward - Do Work ($1,066)
15th place:  Rob Perelman - Totally Unrewarded ($1,332)
14th place:  John Fotris - Sex Panthers ($1,332)
13th place:  Gary Wieck - The Three Amigos ($1,598)
12th place:  Lisa Parsons - Lady Luck ($1,598)
11th place:  Robert Pisano - Pocket Rockets ($1,776)
10th place:  Masih Bahadori - Poker Poison ($1,776)

At that point, the final nine players were reorganized to sit at the last table of the tournament, and after a break, play continued. The second, third, and remainder of the team finishes were still to be determined, so much attention was being paid to the way the final table would play out. The final table chip counts showed John Regis with a significant lead holding 970K in chips, followed by Danny Nelson with 850K. The short stacks were Jamie Gold with 200K and Joe Shukys with 213K, and notable Tom McEvoy was still in the fight with an average stack.

Jamie Gold was soon eliminated when his 10-6 ran into the A-K of Danny Nelson. The ninth place finish gave Gold a $2,220 prize to go with his Team Aced winnings.

Next at risk was Joe Shukys of Team Palace, who went to bat with 10-8 on an A-9-8 flop, but John Regis called with A-4 for top pair. The turn produced a 4 and the river was meaningless, giving Shukys an eighth place finish and $2,664 for the effort.

It didn’t take long after that for David Pollack of Team Pass the Sugar to move all-in with A-7, but Ashley Nataupsky woke up with A-J and the dominating hand. The board bricked for Pollack and sent him out in seventh place with $3,552.

After that, it was Tom McEvoy of Team #1 who shoved with A-7 against the pocket tens of Gerald Percival. The board of 6-4-3-8-4 gave McEvoy a sixth place finish and $3,996 to go with it.

Play slowed a bit while waiting for the next all-in move to turn into an elimination, but it eventually happened to a player who had led for most of the day’s action. John Regis of Team Poker Masters pushed all-in with pocket sixes, but Philip Rousseaux called with K-Q of diamonds. The board started out innocently enough with 7-4-2-7, but it was the queen on the river that sent Regis out of the tournament in fifth place with $5,328 in prize money.

After helping secure her team’s top prize for that group division of the event and become the last member of her team standing, Ashley Nataupsky finally pushed all-in with 9-7 from the small blind, but Percival called with pocket aces. The board couldn’t help with K-6-3-7-5, and Nataupsky was ousted in fourth place, which was worth $6,660 to go along with her portion of the Team Aced prize.

The final three players decided to discuss a potential deal, after which they announced that they - Gerald Percival, Philip Rousseaux, and Danny Nelson - would accept an even chop. Each player would walk away with $13,000, but the action would continue to find a winner, who would also receive the trophy and an additional $6,000 for the ultimate victory.

Soon after, Gerald Percival of Team Runner Runner decided to risk it all with only 9-3 of hearts, and Rousseaux called instantly with K-Q of hearts. When the board ran out A-4-10-7-10, Percival was gone in third place but guaranteed the agreed-upon amount of $13,000 for it.

Heads-up play began with Philip Rousseaux holding on to about 2.9 million chips to the 1.5 million of Danny Nelson. It began slower than most spectators anticipated, but Nelson was able to chip up and take over the lead. The two eventually tangled to end the game. After seeing a K-8-4 flop, Rousseaux committed the remainder of his chips with J-8, but Nelson’s K-9 for top pair was in the lead. The 6 on the turn and 7 on the river gave it to Nelson and left Philip Rousseaux of Team Claddaghs with a second-place finish and the chop-amount of $13,000 in prize money.

Danny Nelson of Team claimed the title of Dream Team Poker individual champion, which was worth $19,000 in prize money.

With regard to team finishes, as noted previously, Team Aced (otherwise known as Smoking Aces) was the winner of the first place team prize of $59,940. The entirety of the team payouts were as follows:

1st place:  Smoking Aces ($59,940)
2nd place:  Claddaghs ($33,300)
3rd place:  The Clones ($15,984)
4th place:  Party at the Mansion ($10,656)
5th place:  Hellmuth Busters ($6,660)
6th place:  Pocket Rockets ($3,996)
7th place:  Ari’s Training Center 4 ($2,664)

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