It was the event that kicked off the entire 2010 WSOP. Though it is covered by few media outlets, it is the inaugural tournament of the summer and allows those who normally service others in casinos and the world of poker to sit around the table for a change and compete for their own glory. The $500 Casino Employees NLHE tournament was Event 1 on the WSOP schedule and made way for other events to follow at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.
The field of 721 players made for an entire prize pool of $324,450, and the last 72 players were to be paid. Though the numbers were lower than the previous year’s event, the prize pool was a solid one for the players. The money bubble burst late into the evening on Day 1, courtesy of Dan Miller in 73rd place, and a few cashes were in the books by the time the night ended with 53 players remaining.
Those 53 players returned on Day 2 for what was to be their final day of play. On Saturday, May 29, they gathered at 2:30pm and resumed play, all with the $71,424 first place prize money in mind.
The first bustout of the day was Maureen Johansson, whose pocket aces were cracked by eights, as David Patent found the case eight on the river to eliminate Johansson, who took away $1,265 for the bad beat. The day moved forward with Bellagio tournament director Jack McClelland departing in 19th place, at which point the final 18 players gathered on the last two tables. They went to dinner soon after and returned with Kent Washington, the previous day’s chip leader, still atop the leaderboard with 332K.
It was after 10pm that David Patent’s elimination in 11th place, prompted the tournament staff to seat the final ten players at one last table. But one more player had to go before the official final table was set. It took quite awhile but Jonathan Kotula finally became the player to commit all-in, and he did it with . Arthur Vea was along for the ride with . The board came , and Kotula couldn’t beat the pair of aces. Kotula left in tenth place with $4,273.
The final table was set, though no official starting chip counts were given for the nine players, as they simply continued play.
Not long after, Motoyama and Silvey tangled preflop, and Motoyama called all-in for his tournament life with . Silvey had only , but the board came to give Silvey two pair and the pot. Yuta Motoyama finished the tournament in ninth place with $5,434.
Then the chip counts were given for the final eight players:
|Seat 1: ||Christopher Reider ||120,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Arthur Vea ||560,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Matthew Hollinger ||250,000 |
|Seat 4: ||empty |
|Seat 5: ||Jeffrey Bennett ||140,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Hoai Pham ||400,000 |
|Seat 7: ||Patrick Silvey ||250,000 |
|Seat 8: ||David Villegas ||190,000 |
|Seat 9: ||Kent Washington ||190,000 |
The next few rounds saw Reider and Washington both double through Vea, but by the time players reached the break just before 2:00am, Vea still led the pack with 512K.
Bennett was one of the shorter stacks and finally moved all-in preflop, but Silvey came over the top all-in to isolate with . Bennett had to show his , which caught straight outs but didn’t materialize into anything on the board. Jeffrey Bennett exited in eighth place with $6,969.
On the 70th hand of the final table, Villegas made his move with , but Reider was right there with . The board of finished the job and eliminated David Villegas in seventh place, which was worth a trip to the cashier cage for $9,029.
The next twenty or so hands saw Vea lose some ground but double back through Pham to stay alive.
But Washington didn’t have the same luck. He moved his short stack all-in with , which got a call from Reider and his . The dealer gave them a flop to give Reider the pair of sevens. The turn and river changed nothing, and Kent Washington was gone in sixth place with $11,829.
Only a few hands later, Silvey made the decision to push all-in for his last 150K holding , and Vea made the call with . The flop of brought the set for Vea but the flush draw for Silvey. The on the turn also gave Silvey hope for a double-up, but the on the river squashed that, leaving Patrick Silvey with $15,677 for the fifth place finish.
On the 151st hand of the night, Hollinger was down to 73K and pushed preflop with . Vea called from the big blind with only , but the board of gave Vea trip sixes, and Matthew Hollinger left the table in fourth place with $21,047.
A short while after, Pham doubled through Reider, and the latter didn’t take long before pushing all-in when he looked down at . But Vea called instantly with . The flop of was void of any help for the short stack, and the on the turn gave Vea the set. The simply finished it off, sending Christopher Reider out in third place with $28,655.
No chip counts were given at the time that heads-up action began, but it only took ten minutes to find the tournament’s winner.
Vea and Pham got involved to see a flop. When Vea checked it, Pham pushed all-in. Vea called all-in for his tournament life with , and Pham didn’t hesitate to turn over . The turn produced the and the river the , which ended the match. Arthur Vea finished the tournament in second place and walked away with $44,079 for it.
Hoai Pham, a native of Vietnam and poker dealer at the Village Club in San Diego, won the $500 Casino Employees NLHE tournament, the first event at the 2010 World Series of Poker. He took home $71,424 for the accomplishment and will be awarded his WSOP gold bracelet on Sunday, May 30.