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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

The Round Table – Sights and Sounds from Aruba – It’s All Coming to an End

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The remaining 36 players left in the UltimateBet Aruba Poker Classic came back the next afternoon to play 6 handed all the way down to the final table.

Play went rather quickly with several of the remaining names falling just short of the final table including Zach Clark (36th) Matt Brady (31st) Jamie Armstrong (28th) Matt Vengrin (27th) and Travis Rice (16th).

Just as Phil Hellmuth’s famous penthouse party was starting up the final 7 were named.

Seat 1: Chase Steely – 1,293,000
Seat 2: Jose Roberto Santos – 211,000
Seat 3: Brandon Hall – 442,000
Seat 4: Brock Parker – 1,241,000
Seat 5: Eric “basebaldy” Baldwin – 1,573,000
Seat 6: Robert Mizrachi – 1,977,000
Seat 7: Matt Ross – 301,000

I headed up to the party with Adam ‘Roothlus’ Levy, Billy Kopp, Matt Graham, Jeff Madsen, and a few others just before The Dan Band started performing. They are a cover band that has been in several movies including Old School, and The Hangover.

Everyone had a blast dancing around and singing along and there are numerous twitter videos out there to prove it if you can find them.
We also took a ton of pictures holding bottles of Dom Perignon, because Phil always talks about his Dom and we felt we needed to have a photo shoot with it.

I was told there eventually were naked girls in the hot tub but I departed before this madness went down.


This morning we woke up to rain and gloom in Aruba.
I ran into Annie Duke that morning, she was less than thrilled. “This is my day off and I can’t even go outside!” she sadly exclaimed.
Some other people the weather affected were the 7 poker players returning to play out for the $753,330 first place prize. Originally they were set up to play on a stage set up over the pool, but with the rain and wind that plan was terminated.
Around noon things started clearing up a bit and it was decided they would finish the game in the open air restaurant Gilligans just off to the side of the pool.

Very quickly there was the first bust out of short stack Matt Ross. He earned $41,470 for his 7th place finish.

Phil Hellmuth stopped by, pointed to Brock Parker and said with a smile, “2 bracelets this year and now Aruba, that’s awesome!”

Shortly after though Brock Parker got coolered when he got all in against another 2009 bracelet winner, Eric ‘basebaldy’ Baldwin. Parker held {A-Hearts}{K-Hearts} against baldy’s Q-Q and couldn’t catch up. Parker finished 6th and added $66,810 to his already impressive cashes for the year.

Next to go in 5th place would be Santos winning $92,150.

One of the original short stacks, Brandon Hall, spent his time at the table chipping up with little pots here and there and eventually taking a big chunk of chips from Baldwin with J-J to Baldwins A-10.

One of the surprises of the night came just after Baldwin declined a deal and then was eliminated shortly after by Mizrachi when he spiked a 7 holding A-7 against Baldwin’s A-Q. Baldwin earned $126,710 for his 4th place finish.

Just as soon as Baldwin was eliminated, Chase Steely was close behind courtesy once again of Mizrachi. He took home $216,860 for his 3rd place finish.

The final 2 began the match with Mizrachi at 4.2 million and Hall at 2.8 million. The players worked out a deal and with that suddenly there was a champion.

After a couple of big pots, one where Hall called down Mizrachi with just king high, 20 year old Brandon Hall was able to take down a final table featuring multiple bracelet winners and some of the toughest competitors in the game.

The final numbers they worked out were each player taking home second place money for $414,680, with $30,000 set aside for the winner and then they divided up their chip percentage from the remaining prize pool.

Around this time Hellmuth took the stage that was once intended for the tournament many of us (already prepared in bathing suits this time) jumped into the pool to watch the Dan Band close down the party.

Bryan Devonshire and myself were officially the first two in, with Phil Hellmuth, Adam Levy, Billy Kopp, Liv Boeree, Tiffany Michelle, Nick and Michael Binger, and Matt Vengrin close behind.

Robert Mizrachi was in good spirits after it was all said and done, even jumping in the pool with the rest of us to watch the show.

Also rocking out in the pool in just her bra was lead singer of the Dan Band’s wife, actress Kathy Nijimy.

I departed just before midnight and left a packed pool behind me as I headed back to my room for the final night.


Scott Ian, Adam Levy and I all shared a cab to the airport and had a great chat with Scott about metal music, the different forms and he even shared a bit about his latest side project band with members of Fall Out Boy that he promised would be heavier than FOB’s normal sound.
After getting through customs and security, we set up our lap tops and played some cash and sit-n-go’s before departure.

About an hour before the flight Hellmuth joined us and couldn’t help but get involved in our games. Scott took down his 6 max sit-n-go first which left me down to  heads up in my 6 max in what was quite possibly the longest I’ve ever played in a 6 max down to heads up…not kidding it was back and forth for over an hour!

I couldn’t help but laugh thinking that if my opponent only knew that watching me play was 11 time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth and uber successful online pro Adam ‘Roothlus’ Levy.
After the epic match I managed to lock up the win and brought an amazing and successful week in paradise to a close.

Till next year!!

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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