Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday: Back to Work, WPBT Summer Classic, and Folding into the Money

By Pauly

After seven straight days of covering the WPT Championship, I had two days off (alas, I still had to meet deadlines over the weekend so it was a total reprive). Now that it's Monday, I'm back to work covering the WSOP Circuit event at Caseser's Palace for Poker News. Once again Shecky assembled our all-star reporting team of the Poker Shrink, Amy Calistri, Change100, Shronk, Tiffany, Leanne, BJ, ad myself. Head over to Poker News and check out our live updates starting at Noon local time. There will also be plenty of photos and videos. The WSOP Circuit event will be the fifth poker tournament (in four different cities; Melbourne, LA, Monte Carlo, and Las Vegas) that I have covered for Poker News.

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Congrats to brdweb for winning AlCantHang's blogger bracelet race. I could not play and donated to the worthy cause. I posted and folded into 22nd place. Any of you who finished after me should be embarassed that you placed behind a dead stack! AlCantHang is hosting another one soon that will be open to both readers and bloggers. Stay tuned for more details.

And stop by Falstaff's blog to get more info on the blogger gathering this summer in Las Vegas. Since it's smack in the middle of the WSOP, my participation will be limited. Schedule permitting, I'll do my best to join in the festivities.

Also stop by Sloshr's blog for details on the blogger tournament at the Orleans. Both Falstaff and Sloshr are working hard to make sure you have a great trip, so when you get a chance, thank them for their work. Organizing any event over 50 people is a pain in the ass and they're doing an amazing job. Thanks guys.

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Shecky wondered if my gambling loses in Las Vegas had eclipsed my paycheck from PokerNews for the WPT Championships and WSOP Circuit at Caeser's. It's getting close. With expenses like travel, rooms, and food... plus the loses at the sports book, craps tables, and poker... I'm close to breaking even!

Last night, the Suns covered which helped ease the pain. I'm only stuck about 1.7K betting on sports this trip. I seem to win all my baby bets and can't win a big bet to save my life.

And I'm making good decisions at the poker table, although I've posted two losing sessions in consecutive days at Green Valley and at Red Rock.

Change100 and I played up at Red Rock and she continues to run well. I played 8/16 Limit with a half kill to 12/24. I was the third youngest player at the table that featured plenty of local rocks. I quickly labeled the one of the younger guys a sausage jockey/calling station in my mental notes. He'd say, "Nice catch!!" to everyone if they beat him in a pot.

He also pissed through three buy-ins while I was there after I tilted him. Everyone folded to him on the button and he raised my big blind. I defended with 10-6o. The flop was J-10-3 and I check raised him. I knew he had nothing but he called anyway. I fired out at the turn when a King fell. He folded and said, "Nice catch."

I flipped over my hand and said, "I defend my blinds so you better have good cards or the balls to call me to the river, sausage boy."

I missed almost every big draw that I had and did not flop any sets even though I got a barrage of small and medium pairs. The biggest pot that I won was with Jd-7d. Before the cards were dealt, I decided to make a move regardless of my hand. I had not played any post in two orbits and I was in late position. There was a limper in front of me and I raised. Four players in the pot and I flopped a flush draw and bottom pair. I turned a gutshot and made my flush on the river. I beat a guy who rivered a set and another who rivered a straight. That was the biggest pot I won that session.

The largest pot I lost in the session was with A-K in a kill pot. There must have been close 150 in the pot preflop and I flopped a King. I jammed the pot on the flop and on the turn. Even though an Ace fell on the river, my hand was no good as a clubs flush filled in on the last card. I made a crying call with two pair knowing I was beat to a flush.

I've been in Las Vegas for ten days and I'm stuck about $400 playing live poker. I've posted a profit for the same amount hitting and running at 15/30 on PokerStars and 8/16 on Full Tilt from the comforts of my hotel room at the Castle. Ironic, don't you think? Like rain on your wedding day...

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

AlCantHang's Bracelet Race, French Pai Gow, and Tilting Locals

By Pauly

Tonight, AlCantHang is hosting a WSOP bracelet race for bloggers only. See below for the details.

Sadly, I have a function to attend and will not be playing in the tournament tonight. I signed up and will be donating to the worthy cause.

I rarely get to play in blogger tournaments any more due to a hectic work schedule, or I'm on the road traveling, or real life gets in the way. I really wish I had more time to play these things and when I do end up playing, it's in an airport terminal somewhere or in a hotel room or I'm busy multi-tasking and working on a deadline.

Best of luck to everyone tonight.

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In the first seven days I was in Vegas, I played poker for an hour and that was the WPT media tournament at Bellagio. The only other gambling I've done was a couple of losing bets at the sportsbook. I'm stuck a little under 2K betting on the NBA. Thank God for Utah last night, otherwise it would have been worse.

Meanwhile, Change100 had been on a tear. She final tabled one tournament at Planet Ho, chopped the media event, and schooled the locals at the Mirage. We finally had a chance to gamble on Saturday. We went to Paris for brunch with Benjo and he wanted to learn how to play Pai Gow. We taught him at Bally's and he picked up the game quick. I won a few bucks but we donked it off at the craps table. No TJ Cloutier sightings.

We went to dinner at Green Valley Ranch last night and met up with the Poker Prof and Flipchip for sushi. After dinner, we headed to the poker room where I bumped into Mike from PokerPages and Charlie Shoten.

I signed up for 10-20 Limit but the list was never called. I donked around at 4-8 with a half kill and ended up tilting my table by playing hands like 6-2s, 8-6s, and 7-4o. I scooped a monster pot when I cracked some guy's K-K. He looked like Borat and said very bad things about women and their place in poker... according to him, they shouldn't be playing.

"If you lose to a woman," he said, "you should leave and quit playing poker."

It was great to crack his Kings. He raised preflop and I called. The flop was J-7-3 and he bet out. I raised and got the guy next to me to fold. Borat three-bet and I four-bet. The turn was another 7. He bet, I raised, and he called. The river was a blank and he check-called me. I flipped over 7-4o and the dealer almost fell out of his chair. The guy next to me mucked A-7 after my raise on the flop. Borat looked like he wanted to punch me then shook my hand. My response? "High five!"

My tilty table broke and I was moved to Change100's table. She was on slight tilt courtesy of a Vietnam veteran who was playing looser than a tranny hooker from Ho Chi Minh City. Her table was not as fun as mine and I lost a monsterpotten in a kill pot. I saw a flop in a seven way pot with 9s-7s. I flopped an opened ended straight draw, check-raised the flop of K-10-8, turned the straight when the 6 fell and kept jamming until the river when a Jack spiked. I bet out and a woman who reminded me of Joy Behar from The View raised me on the river.

"I can't believe you were chasing a gutshot with A-Q," I said as I called her raise.

She showed A-Q and I said, "Nice catch, twat."

I cashed out and got a shake at Fat Burger instead of playing any more with menopausal women and Vietnam vets.

When we got back to the Strip, I couldn't sleep so I fired up PokerStars and played 15-30 Limit for an hour. I won a small profit and cashed out. I was sweating a 500/1000 NL full ring game on Full Tilt that featured Ozzy87, Patrik Antonius, Gus Hansen, Tony G, and Malaysian billionare Michael Sampoerna... who I met in Australia.

I have Sunday off before I have to cover the WSOP Circuit Event at Caesar's from Monday through Wednesday for PokerNews. That will be the last tournament I cover until the WSOP. I can't wait to take four weeks off from poker and rest up before the WSOP begins on June 1.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Carlos Mortensen Wins the 2007 WPT Championship

By Pauly

After a week of non-stop poker action, the WPT Championship concluded on Friday night with the final table. Held in the Bellagio Ballroom at Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas, the final table was being taped for the 100th episode of the WPT. It's also the last show that will be aired on the Travel Channel as the WPT switched channels and heads over to the GSN for Season 6.

There was a little extra hoopla surrounding the final table. Plenty of WPT execs and suits were milling around because of the 100th episode. In addition the tournament was the WPT Championships... and the largest tournament that the Bellagio has ever held and the largest prize pool in the history of the WPT. Aside from the last three WSOP Main Events, no other poker tournament had awarded a richer first place prize.

Final Table Players
(Photo courtesy of BJ Nemeth)

Despite all the distractions that the WPT had to endure in Season 5 (the lawsuits, the headache with French authorities, the death of Paul Hanum, and ending the relationship with the Travel Channel), the final table of the WPT Championships truly epitomized everything that is great about poker. At the same time everything that is absolutely wrong with the industry was magnified at the WPT Championships. The yin and the yang. Bottom line... the poker boom would not have been possible without televised poker and without online poker. The WPT and ESPN play a major role in igniting the boom from helping bring poker into your living room and spreading the excitement and addictive quality of poker to the farthest corners of the globe.

The final six players entered the ballroom hoping to make poker history and take down $4M. I picked Carlos Mortensen to win for a reason. He was the best player at the final table and he's played under the bright lights. Playing in the Fontana Room is one thing. Having to bring your A-game on a TV set in a room filled with press and fans is an entirely different beast. Players have to deal with more distractions. That's when the entertainment side takes precedent and poker becomes the afterthought. Poker tournaments usually have their own rhythm. Sitting at a WPT final table can be erratic with unscheduled breaks due to technical issues like mics falling off or lights not working. Plus the crew has to take breaks to load more films into the cameras. The worst thing about the final table is having players recreate some of the action after it happens. Such as folding your hand again or showing your cards to the hole cams because the crew didn't get a good shot. Alas, that's part of poker these days.

Carlos Mortensen was also chasing history and when it was all over he smashed a few records and made a distinction for himself that may never be replicated ever again. After winning the 2007 WPT Championships, Mortensen became the first ever player to have won a WSOP Main Event and won the WPT Championships. Mortensen also set a record at Bellagio by being their first $5M man. No other person has won that much in multiple Bellagio tournaments. Mortensen made one of the most amazing comebacks that I have ever witnessed at the final table of a major tournament. Mortensen also won the richest prize in WPT history and made a few leaps on poker's all time money list. If there was ever a doubt who's the best tournament player to ever come from Europe, Mortensen's track record will be hard to dismiss. El Matador is not just one of the best players to hail from Europe, he's proven that he's one of the best tournament players... of all time.

Mortensen had a little help at the final table. Chipleader Paul Lee played super passive and allowed Mortensen to jump into the lead. The shortest stacks in Mike Wattel and Tim Phan busted out and out of the four remaining players, Mortensen was by far the most experienced. He'd need to use ever bit of his poker acumen when he was crippled down to just over 1M. It was an odd hand against Kirk Morrison. Mortensen flopped TPTK with A-Q but Morrison flopped a set of Jacks. All the money went in on the flop as Morrison doubled up. It appeared that El Matador was toast. Down to just 1M with WPT's hyper accelerating blinds, the future looked bleak for Mortensen.

He never lost his cool and fought back. He stole some blinds and doubled up to 2M. Then 3M. Then he caught a break. Guy Laliberte, one of the richest men from Canada, busted out in 4th place. Laliberte played fearless poker over the last couple of days. Since he was already filthy rich, the prize money did not mean that much to him. He was able to separate the money from the game and that's part of the reason he played so well. With the rich guy out of the tournament, Mortensen found himself as one of the last three players. Morrison held the monster lead and the passive Paul Lee became a target for both Morrison and Mortensen.

Mortensen patiently waited for his moment to strike and fought back into contention after he doubled through Lee on Hand #86. He went from 1M to 12M in one of the most remarkable comebacks in WPT final table history. Lee busted out on the next hand courtesy of Kirk Morrison. When heads up play began, Mortensen trailed Morrison 19.4M to 12.8M in chips. The majority of the pros in the room gave the edge to Mortensen despite the chip count.

"Carlos is one of the top 3 heads-up players in the world. Behind myself of course," mentioned a shitfaced Gavin Smith who had been drinking heavily in the crowd. "There's nobody in the world that I'd rather play less than Carlos Mortensen heads-up."

It took 95 hands but Mortensen managed to emerge victorious. Too bad that the heads-up match was a crap shoot thanks to the crazy blind structure at WPT events. The first five days featured 90 minute levels. The final table levels decreased to 60 minutes but when players get heads up, the levels are 30 minutes. At one point the blinds were 600K and 1.2M. Mortensen had about 10 big blinds left. When the level was bumped to 800K and 1.6M with 300K antes, there was 3M in the pot before the dealer dealt the cards! That represented 10% of the total chips in play. The blinds had never gotten that high at a WPT event according to Linda Johnson.

The last twenty or so hands became a push-fest like a turbo SNG on PokerStars or one of those poorly structured tournaments on the Strip that hungover sunburnt tourists play. It's a shame that the biggest tournament on the WPT manipulated the play so badly.

"This is not poker," said Daniel Negreanu. "There's no skill left. It's just go all in. The only way you can screw up is to fold."

"This is a total crapshoot," agreed Joe Sebok. "This is why internet players do better at this point."

But at least it was exciting. Whenever one play got close to busting the other, they'd miraculously spring back to life. Like an old school heavyweight boxing match that you'd see on ESPN Classic, the two just beat the shit out of each other and just when you thought one player was done... momentum swung the other way. Morrison caught the 10d twice on the river to come from behind and double through Mortensen. While Morrison could not deliver the knockout blow to Mortensen.

And on Hand #182 of the final table, Carlos Mortensen raised to 5M and Kirk Morrison raised all in. Mortensen called with Kh-Jh. Morrison flipped over As-4d. He flopped a pair on a board of 7c-4h-3c but Mortensen took the lead when the Jc fell on the turn. The river was 3d and Morrison ran out of river luck.
The Money Winners:
1. Carlos Mortensen (Las Vegas,NV) $3,970,415
2. Kirk Morrison (Topeka, KS) $2,011,135
3. Paul Lee (Los Angeles, CA) $1,082,920
4. Guy Laliberte (Beverly Hills, CA) $696,220
5. Tim Phan (Westminster, CA) $464,110
6. Mike Wattel (Phoenix, AZ) $309,405

Carlos Mortensen - 2007 WPT World Champion
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

Erick Lindgren backs Mortensen so I have no idea how much Mortensen actually won, nor do I know who else had a piece of him. What I do know is that the quiet and humble Mortensen said very little after he won.

"I do not have the words to describe how this feels," he said to the audience.

I think Mortensen summed it up best when he said, "I tried really hard."

Mike Sexton described Mortensen as a "player's player." He also remarked that we might never see anyone win both the WPT Championship and the WSOP Main Event.

"Carlos got knocked down so many times," said Gavin Smith. "He got up and kept fighting. If you are going to make it in tournament poker, you to be able to handle adversity and tonight Carlos proved he's the best in the world at handling that."

Kirk Morrison was a gracious second place finisher. He said, "This was fantastic. I couldn't be more happier than to lose to Carlos. I've been gone for a very long time but this is tremendous."

Click here to view the video with Kirk Morrison.

Morrison had taken about five years off from tournament poker. Since his return, he cashed in four straight WPT events which tied a record held by Daniel Negreanu.

Carlos Mortensen used to be known as the quiet guy at the table who erects weird chip sculptures. Now, he'll be known as one of the best tournament players of all time. I'm glad for Carlos Mortensen because there are some really nice guys in poker and he's one of them. I'm thrilled that he won instead of a douchebag like some of the other assclowns on the poker tour.

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Don't forget to check out Flipchip's WPT Championship photos.

Also take a peek at the Poker News extensive WPT Championship video gallery that includes dozens of videos by together by our mulitmedia guru Shronk. He has videos if Doyle Brunson, Patriik Anotnius, Gavin Smith, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Joe Hachem.

You can review the live blogging updates of last night's final table on Poker News. If you liked our work at PokerNews, tune in Monday for our coverage of the WSOP Circuit evet at Caesar's Palace.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Friday, April 27, 2007

WPT Championships Day 5: Making the Final Table and Tommy Vu Bitch Slaps Hellmuth

By Pauly

The great 20th century American poet Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (a.k.a. Snoop Dogg) once said, "I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind." That line seemed appropriate at Day 5 of the WPT Championships as the 27 remaining players slowly made their way down to the final 6.

Last Saturday at the Bellagio, the first flight of 639 players forked over $25K with one thing on every entrant's mind... to make the final table and be in a position to win $4 million. After 99 episodes of the WPT, there's not a sane person in poker who does not know that WPT final tables are a crap shoot. Even though chipleader Paul Lee has over 1/3 of the chips in play... anything can happen at the final table of a WPT event due to the accelerated blind structure at the TV table.

While WPT co-creator Lyle Berman played in the WPT Championships, he was constantly told that the structure sucked ass. Roland de Wolfe, who is the only player to have won an EPT event and a WPT event, told Berman that the WPT should use the same final table format that the EPT does. Berman's response, "Send me their blind structure and I'll take a look."

Alas, there's nothing he can do about it right now. The levels were ninety minutes in length with a gradual increase in blinds. Once the final table starts, the levels drop to under an hour with much bigger jumps. The suits at the WPT want action for the TV program... not to have an event where the final six players actually play poker to determine who's the next WPT World Champion. That's what I loved about the WSOP main event with two hour levels and that's why the European players prefer the EPT over the WPT.
The WPT Championship Final Table (with chip counts):
1. Paul Lee (Los Angeles, CA) 11.8M
2. Carlos Mortensen (Las Vegas, NV) 6.5M
3. Guy Laliberte (Beverly Hills, CA) 4.69M
4. Kirk Morrison (Topeka, KS) 4.194M
5. Mike Wattel (Phoenix, AZ) 2.887M
6. Tim Phan (Westminster, CA) 2.162M

Final TV Table Payouts:
1. $3,970,415
2. $2,011,135
3. $1,082,920
4. $696,220
5. $464,110
6. $309,405

Day 5 Money Winners:
7 Thomas Wahlroos $278,465
8 Scott Fischman $247,525
9 Tommy Vu $216,585
10 Jimmy Tran $185,645
11 Grant Lang $154,705
12 CK Hua $154,705
13 David Levi $154,705
14 Jake Minter $154,705
15 Sorel "imper1um" Mizzi $154,705
16 Jim "KrazyKanuck" Worth $123,670
17 Richard Anthony $123,670
18 Phil Hellmuth $123,670
19 Loi Phan $123,670
20 Ben Johnson $123,670
21 Tom Pniak $92,820
22 Raymond Davis $92,820
23 David Baker $92,820
24 Paul Wasicka $92,820
25 Adeeb Harb $92,820
26 Roland de Wolfe $92,820
27 Robert Wazelle $92,820

Here's some quick background on the players...

Chipleader Paul Lee doesn't play too many big events, but a glance at his Hendon Mob stats show that he plays tons of smaller buy-in events all over Southern California. He was freerolling into the WPT Championships after winning a different event at the Bellagio last week.

Carlos Mortensen is the best player to come out of Spain and is considered one of the top 10 pros in all of Europe. The 2001 WSOP bracelet winner is trying to become the first WSOP Main Event champion to win a WPT World Championship. Mortensen is in an elite club of four players (along with Joe Hachem, Doyle Brunson, and Scotty Nguyen) who have won the WSOP and at least one WPT event. Mortensen is clearly the best player at the final table. El Matador is my pick to win it all.

Guy Laliberte
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

Guy Laliberte sneezes $100 bills. The guy named Guy is originally from Montreal and the founder of Cirque du Soleil. Whispers made its way through media row about his estimated net worth. Some said $5 billion but the actual number is somewhere between $1 and $2 billion. BJ did his homework and said that Forbes listed him at $1.5 billion. He's playing for chump change, which means he's fearless at the tables. He was tipping the Bellagio cocktail servers $20 bills for bringing him Fiji water. Change100 said that he wore a $600 cashmere sweater. All I could say was, "I like the eagle on the back."

Kirk Morrison won a WSOP bracelet back in 1988 and has been away from tournament poker the last few years. What a way to make a resurgence into poker! Out of everyone who made the final table, Morrison gutted out some of the toughest situations.

Mike Wattel is a former WSOP bracelet winner who had been best known as Cyndy Violette boyfriend. I think he looks just like Mike Gordon (the bass player from Phish). I have also never seen Wattel not wear shorts. I wonder if they'll make him wear long pants for the final table. He went from 1M in chips to 3M in less than fifteen minutes winning several small pots in a row. He stepped up his game late in Day 5.

Tim Phan just made his second WPT final table. I'm a fan of Phan because he uses his tournament winnings to support his extended family in California and overseas.

So what happened on Day 5?

Phil Hellmuth showed up late. Not like Hellmuthian late (anything over one hour), but the Poker Brat was the last player to arrive and had not sat down until the second hand was dealt. On the first hand that he played, he doubled up. He started 18th in chips and that hand put him closer to the Top 10. However, his run would not last long.

Hellmuth headed straight for tiltdom after his Kings were cracked by the Lizard King Kirk Morrison. Both Flipchip and I agreed that Hellmuth played his hand poorly on all streets. The best NL Hold'em player in the world succumbed to FPS... Fancy Play Syndrome.

Here's the hand: A very loose Morrison raised 75K preflop and Hellmuth smooth called with Ks-Kh. Mistake #1. The flop was 6s-5c-3s and Morrison fired out 150K. Hellmuth smooth called again with a flush draw and gutshot on the board. Mistake #2. The turn was the 3d and Morrison checked to Hellmuth who underbet 150K when the pot was 450K. Mistake #3. Morrison called Hellmuth's weak bet. The river was the 2s and Morrison fired out 225K. Hellmuth called his value bet with straights and flushes out there. Morrison tabled As-7s for the nut flush, while Hellmuth angrily showed his pocket Kings. That's when Hellmuth blew up and began berating Morrison.

Everyone in the room knew that Hellmuth fucked up and that his anger was misdirected. Hellmuth should have punched himself in the balls. The best NL Hold'em player in the world is not supposed to make a rookie mistake like that with $4 million and history on the line. I could justify the smooth call pre-flop in order to trap Morrison. But not raising the flop with all those draws was a total rookie mistake.

"I'll get all of his chips," Hellmuth steamed as he referred to Morrison in the third person. "Tournament after tournament these donkeys give away their chips to me. I don't have to chase them down. They come to me eventually."

Hellmuth and Tommy Vu (yes that Tommy Vu from those 1980s infomercials) were jawing back and forth. Vu sensed weakness and went for the attack. They had some interesting banter on one particular hand where Hellmuth min. raised preflop and Vu called. The flop was Kc-8h-7s and Vu checked to Hellmuth. He bet 70K and said, "I'm expecting you to check-raise me, but I have to bet my set of Kings."

Vu went into the tank for a few minutes which irritated Hellmuth.

"I'm playing against the best player in the world," sarcastically quipped Vu. "I need time to think."

Hellmuth called a clock on Vu as he counted out his chips. Vu min. raised Hellmuth as he pushed 140K past the betting line. Hellmuth quickly min. reraised 70K more.

"Let's see if you really have something," Hellmuth said.

"I don't have a clock still on me," joked Vu to the TD.

When the TD said no and walked away, Vu counted down some more chips and took more time. That bothered Hellmuth even more.

"Come on Tommy! If you have a set of 8s, let's do it. Just push all of it into the pot."

Just before Hellmuth called a clock on Vu for the second time in that hand, Vu min. raised again as he tossed out 140K chips.

"Looks like they are playing limit poker," joked the TD to the crowd.

Hellmuth was steaming. He stood up and sighed. He said he had Queens and folded. Vu didn't show his hand as Vu became a quick crowd favorite for standing up to the Poker Bully.

Hellmuth busted out an hour later at the hands of Thomas Wahlroos from Finland. Hellmuth went to battle with J-J but ran into Wahlroos' A-A.

"First time I got (pocket) Aces in the last two days," Wahlroos told me.

The young Fin, who made the WPT Paris final table, got a large applause from the spectators at the Bellagio on the rail who were cheering against Hellmuth.

Former WSOP Joe Hachem was on the rail most of the afternoon. Tiffany and Shronk got an interview with him where he discusses WPT final table strategy.

Click here to watch the Hachem video.

Thomas Wahlroos issued the Bad Beat of the Day. With 8 players remaining, he cracked Scott Fischman's Aces with the Hilton Sisters. Wahlroos rivered a four flush to cripple the surly Fischman who was in a bad mood the entire tournament. He is not as loud as Hellmuth or Matusow, but he has a reputation to be a constant complainer at the tables which is why most of the pros I've talked to don't like his attitude.

"What are you in such a bad mood for?" teased Tommy Vu. "You just won at least a quarter of a million!"

My pick to win it all, Thomas Wahlroos, ended up being the TV bubble boy when his As-10s did not hold up against Paul Lee's A-Q. If Wahlroos came from behind and won that hand, he would have been the chipleader. His luck ran out as he headed to the rail. Here's the picture of that intense moment that BJ took as I stood right behind Wahlroos.

(Photo courtesy of BJ Nemeth)

The final table is set to go at 5pm local time. BJ Nemeth and I will be co-blogging the final table together for Poker News. He'll be doing the play-by-play while I will be providing the color commentary. Check out our live updates at Poker News.

* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 5

The WPT hosted a media tournament for us in the Fontana Room before the action started for Day 5. Chops from WCP and RawVegas played as did Lacey Jones, along with a slew of us from PokerNews such as Gaz, Shecky, BJ, myself, and Change100. I was crippled in the first orbit when I turned a boat and my opponent had been slowplaying quads on me. Ouch. I got my money back when I open-shoved with K-9o and was called by Ed from Gutshot. He had 8-8 and I flopped a King. I lost a race against Owen when his Hilton Sisters beat my Big Slick. I busted out on the next hand with Q-4o. Meanwhile, Change100 made the final table and went on to win it. She chopped with Craig from Gutshot when they were even in chips. She won two free nights at the Bellagio and a free meal for two at any MGM/Mirage eatery! Nice score.

Phil Hellmuth drew the most railbirds in the Fontana Room. They stood six or seven deep to catch a glimpse at the Poker Brat. It reminded me of rubberneckers on the highway slowing down to look at the carnage of a car wreck. Hellmuth would need to jaws of life to get his ass out of the mess he was in.

Charlie Shoten made a cameo early on and told me about the movie he's trying to make in Hollyweird. It's a mocumentary about poker and the concept seems hilarious.

Johnny Chan walked around in media row and stood on the rail most of the day. That's rare. Several members of the media tried to ask him who he had a piece of but he didn't say.

Other pros wandered around and Snoopy from Blonde Poker asked, "What level of poker celebrity do you have to be in order to be allowed inside the ropes?" I told him that you have to be high up. Chan and Hachem get automatic entry along with guys like Gavin Smith who have won a WPT event. I'm sure if Dutch Boyd tried to cross the line, he'd get tossed out.

(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

Carlos Mortensen must have been inspired by influenced by Antoni Gaudi's buildings such as La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. If you ever watch Mortensen play in a tournament, he'll do weird things with his chips like line up all the side designs in a row or erect his chips into odd shapes. At one point, Mortensen took several minutes to undo his sculpture in order to count out his chips when he moved all in with K-K. Tommy Vu was bothered that Mortensen was slowing up the game. "He not allowed to build a house no more!" Vu complained to the dealer. The most upset seemed to be Scott Fischman who sat right next to El Matador. Mortensen's sculpture drew the attention of the media including every photographer in the room who wanted to snap a photo of his masterpiece and Fischman doesn't like any media around his table.

Snoopy offered me $1 to knock down Mortensen's stack. I offered him $100 to snatch Fischman's hat off his head. We both declined.

A drunk Gavin Smith wandered up to the final table with a cocktail in his hand and chatted with Wahlroos. "Rum and coke?" asked Wahlroos. That Finnish kid makes some amazing reads.

The final table (of ten players) had a true international flavor to it with four players of Asian descent, three Americans, two Europeans, and one French-Canadian.

Change100 approved of all three of Isabelle Mercier's outfits. The poker fashionita made three appearances in the Fontana Room and she wore three different outfit changes. That's a move right out of Joe Speaker's playbook.

One anonymous reporter in media row referred to another media person as "the biggest tool in poker." Snoopy wanted to know what that meant. I guess British people don't use that term. I explained to him what a "tool" was and he gave me some comparable British slang such as... tosser, tosspot, twat, shirt lifter, or poo pusher. Of course my favorite one was... sausage jockey. Heh. The former biggest tool in poker now has the new title of... The biggest sausage jockey in poker!

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out Flipchip's WPT Championship photos.

Also take a peek at the Poker News extensive WPT Championship video gallery put together by our mulitmedia guru Shronk. The video gallery includes interviews with final table players Paul Lee and Kirk Morrison.

BJ and I will be live blogging the WPT Championship Final Table directly from the Bellagio for Poker News. It starts at 5pm local time or 8pm for all you east coasters.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

WPT Championship Day 4: The Carrot Top and Hellmuth Blows Load

By Pauly

When I arrived at the Fontana Room, the fountains in the Bellagio lake were being cleaned by guys in scuba gear. While word was out that James Woods was lurking around with his new 17 year old girlfriend that he picked off of MySpace. Jimmy Woods is a pussy magnet but he wasn't playing at the WPT Championships this year. Wonder why he missed it?

Day 4 of the WPT Championships continued with 54 players. 27 players would bust out in less than three levels and play would be suspended by TD Jack McClelland. The eliminations went quick and I welcomed the short day especially because the Fontana Room was opened to spectators and several of them would wander off into where I was working.

Phil Hellmuth entered Day 4 as the chiplead and he squandered it all. He didn't go on mega tilt. He decided to play loose and aggressive to start out the day and that cost him a few chips. Then he took two big hits doubling up David Levi and Sorel "imper1um" Mizzi. When the day ended he had slipped to 19th place in chips with more than one million less than he started with.

Paul Lee jumped out of nowhere to take the lead. He won a monster pot off of Loi Phan which helped put him in the lead. Carlo Mortensen went on a rush to end the day third in chips. Mortensen got the majority of his stack after flopping a set and having it hold up against Ray Davis' nute flush and guthot straight draw. If there was one time to have your flopped set hold up... it would be on Day 4 of the WPT Championships.

Doyle Brunson came by to sweat Lyle Berman. He was trying to get Berman to donk off his chips so they could play over at Bobby's Room in the Big Game.

Click here to see the Doyle Brunson video.

Doyle Brunson thinks that Hellmuth and Mortensen are the two best players left in the field. My pick to win it all is Finland's Thomas Wahlroos. He made a final table at the WSOP last year and final tabled the last WPT event in Paris at the Aviation Club. Keep an eye on that Scandi.

I'm also rooting for a guy named Robert Wazelle. He looks like a guy you'd see in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead show selling doses. The old hippie wears Birkenstocks and has long scragly hair.

Noteworthy players who cashed on Day 4 included... Lyle Berman (29), David Oppenheim, (31), Mark Gregorich (32), Bill Gazes (33,) ZeeJustin (35), Jared "TheWacoKidd" Hamby (44), Patrik Antonius (52), Danny Alaei(53).
Here's a Top 5 chipcount:
1. Paul Lee 3,601,000
2. Kirk Morrison 2,980,000
3. Carlos Mortensen 2,429,000
4. Sorel Mizzi 2,256,000
5. Thomas Wahlroos 1,847,000

Notable Stacks:
Tim Phan 1,273,000
David Levi 1,258,000
Grant Lang 1,201,000
Mike Wattel 1,060,000
CK Hua 760,000
Phil Hellmuth 738,000
Paul Wasicka 581,000
James "KrazyKanuck" Worth 556,000
Roland de Wolfe 460,000
* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 4

I could hear the screams from the neartest craps table about 150 yards away from the Fontana Room. There was a hot shooter throwing which meant that people were winning money. I love it when the average Joe gambler takes money from a casino.

Hellmuth and Lyle Berman were discussing endorsement deals for various companies like soft drinks. Hellmuth mentioned Jay-Z's deal with Pepsi a couple of times. Hellmuth likes rap and he loves Jay-Z. I wonder what he thinks of Hellmuth?

At one point Hellmuth liked how Mike Wattel played a hand and he took time out to commend him. "That's the Hellmuth Seal of Approval," mentioned Snoopy who happened to be standing there next to me on the rail.

Tim Phan explained to some of his tablemates that 25% of all tournament earnings goes to his family. "My family is my charity," he said. They should be happy because he's going to win at least 23K. He still has plenty of chips so his family is still in the running for 1M.

After you spend enough time in Vegas, you come to accept things that would normally make you shake your head in disgust. I heard a bizzare story involving Carrot Top. It's an off the menu thing that most of the local hookers know about. It's sort of like ordering from the secret menu at In & Out Burger. As the story goes, comedian-freakazoid Carrot Top would pick up high priced hookers and pay them double. They would do a sexy striptease for him before he made them get down on their knees and he jerked off on their faces. So the next time a working girl comes over to you at the Hooker Bar, ask her how much a Carrot Top costs.

John Bonetti came by to sweat his good friend Phil Hellmuth. Bonetti is in his late 70s or early 80s and needs the assistance of one of those scooters. While trying to navigate a tough corner, he smashed into the table where the Gutshot guys were working. Bonetti spilled all the drinks on their table.
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Lyle Berman
2. Phil Hellmuth
3. Loi Phan
4. Mark Gregorich
5. Patrik Antonius (and no Dan, I didn't peak but I know you would have!)
* * * * *

Don't forget to check out Flipchip's WPT Championship photos.

And you can follow the WPT Championship by visiting our live updates over at Poker News.

While you are there, peek at the Poker News extensive WPT Championship video gallery put together by our mulitmedia guru Shronk. The video gallery includes interviews with your favorite pros such as Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Tim Phan, and Thomas Wahlroos.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

WPT Championships Day 3: Tilt-a-Phil

By Pauly

"Fuck!" screamed Phil Hellmuth as he slammed his fist on the table after the pot was being pushed to Shawn Buchanon.

Hellmuth had been on fire despite having Carlos Mortensen and Gavin Griffin at his table. Just a few minutes earlier he was the first player past the 1 million chipmark. Before that hand was dealt, his stack topped 1.5M after he took two big pots off of Paul Lee with K-K and a set of 10s. Hellmuth was calm and in control until that hand. Then he exploded.

I took this photo moments before the blowup

Here's what happened. Hellmuth raised under the gun to 20K and Buchanon reraised to more than 50K at the CO. Hellmuth called as the flop was 10d-6d-3h. Hellmuth check-called a 120K bet. The turn was 7d and both players checked. The river was the 9c and both players checked again.

"I got a pair of sixes," announced Hellmuth as he tabled As-6s. Buchanon flipped over K-7 for a pair of sevens.

"Fuck!" screamed Hellmuth as he slammed his fist on the table.

I still can't tell if those outbursts are genuine or fabricated. Regardless, for the next twenty minutes, Hellmuth put on a show for everyone in the Fontana Room. He spoke so loudly that you could have heard his whining across the street at the Paris casino. A wall of media surrounded his table as he berated Buchanon.

"This motherfuckin' kid just bluffed off 200K to the best player in the world! Nice play, genius! There's no way you are going to last the day," Hellmuth said as he pointed at Buchanon who was sporting a retro Boston Redsox Ted Williams jersey.

"Playing against the best players in the world and bluffing off your stack with K-7? Nice play genius," he continued. "You're supposed to be busted."

"Who's stacking the chips, Phil?" needled Amnon Filippi who sat at the adjacent table.

"Sit down you baby," another pro shouted.

Hellmuth ignored the catcalls from the other tables and stood up.

"Sucking out on me? I can see right through your soul," he said as I tried my best not to laugh. "I'm at the top of my game and you suck out on me. He looked right at me and I saw it in his eyes."

"Learn to take a beat," said Buchanon who was visibly rattled after waking up the sleeping giant.

"Everyone knows not to bluff me. They tried yesterday. Time after time and I picked them all off with Ace high. Bottom pair. Second pair. Didn't matter. I always knew when the were bluffing. Make sure you write that up on the internet," he said as he pointed directly at me.

"I'm playing for $4 million and history, pal. What are you playing for?" the Poker Brat continued. "The way you're playing you won't last the end of the day."

Hellmuth's verbal tirade lasted over thirty minutes as he would not let up. His table was next to be broken up and he pleaded with the floor person not to break them up.

"I got to get my chips back from that donkey," he said.

Side note... Buchanon would end up busting out in 57th place winning $46,410 while Hellmuth was moved to Raymond Davis' table. Davis would take the chiplead for a while before Hellmuth made a rush near the end of the day to finish up as the chipleader with 1.8M in chips and 54 players remaining.

The big story on Day 3 were the rapid fire bustouts. Although 212 players started the day, the money bubble broke as some of the bigger names in the field failed to cash such as Phil Ivey, Jen Harman, Chip Reese, Billy Baxter, Shannon Shorr, Gavin Griffin, Erica Schoenberg, My Main Man Freddy Deeb, Isabelle Mercier, Amir Vahedi, Allen Kessler, Joe Sebok, Berry Johnston, Vinnie Vinh, Andy Black, Martin De Knijff, Jamie Gold, Hoyt Corkins, Jani Sointula, Liz Lieu, JC Tran, David Singer, JohnnyBax, NeverWin and Nordberg.
Here's the payout list:
1: $3,970,415
2: $2,011,135
3: $1,082,920
4: $696,220
5: $464,110
6: $309,405
7: $278,465
8: $247,525
9: $216,585
10: $185,645
11-15: $154,705
16-20: $123,670
21-30: $92,820
31-40: $77,350
41-50: $61,880
51-100: $46,410
Noteworthy players who cashed included Ross Boatman, Barny Boatman, Joe Tehan, Humberto Brenes, Lee Markholdt, Bob Stupak, Anna Wroblewski, Ram Vaswani, Bryan Devonshire, Sam Grizzle, Melissa Hayden, James Van Alstyne, Sammy Farha, Johan Storakers, and David Daneshgar. They took home $46,410 each.

Vanessa Rousso
Photo courtesy of Flipchip

Everyone kept an eye out for the Poker Pixie (as dubbed by Otis). Anna Wroblewski was among the chipleaders to start Day 3. She was trying to make the money along with attempting to be the last female standing. She took out Isabelle Mercier. Liz Lieu was eliminated when she tried to bluff at a pot on the turn. Jen Harman busted out early followed by Erica Schoenberg who cashed in last year's WPT Championships. Although Melissa Hayden was shortstacked and not catching any cards, she outlasted everyone except Anna and made the money. Hayden was freerolling into the event after winning a seat in the Super Satellite the day before the event started. Hayden is currently 10th on the Women's All Time money list and has made 3 final tables at the WSOP.

The Poker Pixie's run ended when Grant Lang rivered a flush on her and she finished in 70th place.

"I was impressed with how she played," mentioned Phil Ivey in an interview with PokerNews. "She's tough to read and mixes up her play a lot. And she's a presence at the table. That's a good thing."

With the final table set for Friday, there's three days of poker scheduled with only 54 players remaining. There's a small chance that they could get down to 6 players by the end of Day 4. Tournament officials will have to make a decision during play on Wednesday. It would be nice to get a day off or having a very short day on Thursday.
Top 10 in Chips:
1 Phil Hellmuth (Palo Alto, CA) 1.827M
2 Raymond Davis (Commerce, CA) 1.704M
3 Loi Phan (San Marino, CA) 1.419M
4 Kirk Morrison (Topeka, KS) 1.327M
5 Roland De Wolfe (London, England) 1.287M
6 Thomas Wahlroos (Helsinki, Finland) 1.189M
7 CK Hua (Rosemead, CA) 1,041M
8 Carlos Mortensen (Las Vegas, NV) 939K
9 Mike Wattel (Phoenix, AZ) 935K
10 Ian Johns (Seattle, WA) 862K

15 Sorel "imper1um" Mizzi (Toronto, Canada) 703K
16 Abe Mosseri (New York City, NY) 646K
17 Tim Phan (Westminster, CA) 646K
20 ZeeJustin (Los Angeles, CA) 625K
24 Paul Wasicka (Boulder, CO) 558K
25 Jimmy Tran (Las Vegas, NV) 550K
28 Bill Gazes (Las Vegas, NV) 510K
29 Lyle Berman (Minneapolis, MN) 501K
31 Jared "TheWacoKidd" Hamby (Henderson, NV) 494K
35 David Oppenheim (Los Angeles, CA) 424K
37 David Levi (Las Vegas, NV) 360K
39 Mikael Thuritz (Stockholm, Sweden) 333K
43 Danny Alaei (Las Vegas, NV) 278K
47 James "KrazyKanuck" Worth (Toronto, Canada) 230K
48 Praz Bansi (London, England) 219K
49 Mark Gregorich (Las Vegas, NV) 197K
54 Patrik Antonious (Las Vegas, NV) 38K

* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 3

Before Day 3 started I walked into the bathroom and saw Paul Wasicka trying on a baby blue Full Tilt hat. He normal wears a magnetic logo but left it at home. "Guess I'll have to go with the hat today," he said.

There were two Chops sightings in the Fontana Room in consecutive days. Chops from Wicked Chops Poker fame and now was checking out the scene. I love Wicked Chops Poker...

Change100 and I ate breakfast at the Bellagio's cafe behind the conservatory. We had a nice seat along the rail overlooking the flowers. She opted for the Bellagio omelet which is filled with Maine lobster. Jani Sointula sat at a nearby table.

When I set up my laptop in media row about thirty minutes before the start of Day 3, I overheard two dealers talking about poker they played off the Strip. They each shared bad beat stories. I decided to come up with a rate sheet to hear bad beat stories:
Liz Lieu = Free
Readers = $1
Dealers = $5
Bloggers = $27
Pros = $100
European Pros = 100 Euros
Just before the action began, Shecky told me that he saw Phil Ivey at the Fontana Bar buying a watch from some guy wearing a PokerStars shirt.

Sweet Sweet Erica

Erica Schoenberg wore a white silk shirt and black shorts. She also has a pink iPod mini and might be the sweetest person in poker.

In his interview with Poker News, Phil Ivey said that he's only playing two WSOP events this summer. Guess which ones?

"They think I'm an idiot," imper1um told LeAnne our new PokerNews reporter. No one at his table knew that he was the number one ranked online player in the world. At the end of the day, he was 15th in chips.

At one point play was suspended as officials "went to the tape" to figure out a chip discrepancy. I got an unexpected fifteen minute break so I sprinted to the sports book with Benjo. The French kid is my new sidekick. I'm thinking about adding him and Snoopy to my NYC entourage with Derek, The Rooster, and F Train. Anyway, I got Benjo hooked on sports gambling. I feel awful because he's down since the trip started. Everything we bet on goes to shit. I even made him cash out all of his $50 bills and get new ones. I told him about Grubby's superstition that $50 are bad luck. He told me that it is tough to get $100 bills from French banks because of all the counterfeit issues. Anyway, we lost on the Nets-Raptors game. Spread was 5 and Nets lost by 6. Merde!!

I think that I got a waitress fired because she refused to serve me (either water or mineral water - I go to the bar to drink booze) on two consecutive days in media row. All the other waitresses brought me Perrier or bottled water. One even told me to take back my a tip. Anyone who's been around me knows that I'm a generous tipper. For some reason that one waitress snubbed me. She really set me on tilt when she actually pretended to take my order than never brought me anything. I metioned that to one of the floor supervisors that I know. He said that some pros complained too and that he'd pass along the complaint. We never saw her again. I wonder if they'll ever find the body...

Once the money bubble approached, for some reason security guards were letting in spectators which was a nightmare. Sometimes I see how casinos run things and I'm amazed at their decisions. With $4 million on the line, you figured that the Bellagio would ban all spectators and rope off certain areas. But that didn't happen.

The Poker Shrink almost pummeled a reporter from a different outlet. If you have never met the Poker Shrink, he's one of the nicest guys that I've met. But he's also a big dude. I definitely wouldn't want to piss him off. That guy was lucky I talked the Poker Shrink down. Otherwise he would have gotten an atomic wedgie been tossed into the Bellagio lake.

Foiled Coup showed up with his German stripper friend, who wore a lime green Marilyn Monroe dress. He was still sans camera and hoped that James Van Alstyne would bring one in for him.

Amy Calistri and I did a dial-a-shot at the Fontana Bar with AlCantHang.

Shronk told me that he saw Ray Davis shooting dice with Davidson Matthew and Amnon Filippi on one of the breaks. Davis was still in the tournament and was late a few minutes getting back to his seat.

At one point Gavin Smith was doing chipcounts for PokerWire. It's a tough life. One minute you're a millionaire. The next you're broke and doing chipcounts on Roland de Wolfe. I'm joking about Gavin being broke. Then again, when you drink as much as he does and throw around a ton of cash in outrageous prop bets, I'm shocked that he's not busto.

Linda Geenen dealt in the Fontana Room during the last level. I had not seen her yet on this trip but I barely spent any time in the poker room. She gave me a big hug.

I lost $20 doing coinflips with Gaz. Talk about a bad beat. I called heads and tails fell. So rigged. By the way, Gaz told me a hilarious story about getting pulled over by Las Vegas police. Gaz is an Aussie and staying at a friend's house while he's away on business. Gaz drove Hux's car from the Bellagio to the house.

"Hux tells me if I get pulled over, the registration and insurance is in the glovebox," Gaz said. "Sure enough, I got pulled over about 10pm on the way home tonight. I think maybe it was just cos I didn't look like I knew where I was going (I missed the turn-in to the condos) and was riding the inside turning lane a little. Anyway, the cops get out of the car and I do the donkiest thing of the year. I go to get the paperwork out from the glovebox. Cop A shouts "He's reaching!" and both cops draw their guns. My hands were in the air so fucking quick. Scary shit. I reckon if I hesitated, they shoot. So they get to car, tell me put my hands on head and get out, so I do, explaining to them I am from Australia and Australian license was in pocket. They checked it, tell me next time put my hands on the steering wheel if I am pulled over, and let me go."

Gaz was almost shot by trigger happy Las Vegas cops. They let him go when realized he wasn't a tweaker, just an Australian.

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out Flipchip's WPT Championship photos.

And you can follow the WPT Championship by visiting our live updates over at Poker News.

While you are there, peek at the Poker News extensive WPT Championship video gallery put together by our mulitmedia guru Shronk. The video gallery includes interviews with your favorite pros such as Phil Ivey, Zee Justin, Humberto Brenes, Roland de Wolfe, and Patrik Antonius.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

WPT Championship Day 2: Phil Hellmuth Poker

By Pauly

I wanted to sleep in on Monday morning, but I had to get up early for an appointment with a real estate guy about an apartment rental for the World Series of Poker this summer. My guy found a good property less than ten minutes away from the Rio. He showed Change100 and myself the furnished apartment with a big screen TV and free internet. It was in a gated community with tennis courts and a couple of pools. All I could think was... 1. Who the fuck plays tennis outdoors in balmy Las Vegas? and 2. I wonder if the gates are tall enough will keep the miscreants out?

Sure the Redneck Riviera might have been fun to read about, but it was an unpleasant experience living there. I'm still shocked that my building unit didn't blow up from the homemade meth lab upstairs or that I didn't get clipped in a drive-by-shooting. The bright lights of the Strip don't reach out into those darkened areas of Las Vegas where the sketchy souls operate. Most of them gravitated to where I used to live on Tropicana.

I ended up renting the new apartment for two months. It's not as nice as my apartment with Grubby in Henderson, but it's much closer to the Rio which will cut down on my commute from almost an hour a day. That means about five or six extra hours of sleep per week this year. Plus the apartment in the Bella Vita was the first and only place I had to look at. The last thing I want to have to do is schlep all over Vegas seeking out Tweaker-free apartment complexes with a decent internet connection. I paid my deposit and was set up before the action started for Day 2 of the WPT Championships at the Bellagio.

Anna "The Poker Fairy" Wroblewski
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

The nymph-like Anna Wroblewski began Day 2 as the chipleader and did her best to keep herself at the front of the pack. She has been playing with an air of confidence that I had not seen in a very long time. Plus she's been having fun. Although she admits she's a little nervous, she's been running over her table at times despite the fact she's barely 90 pounds and has been drinking heavily like AlCantHang at happy hour. At one point, the Poker Fairy was knocking back a shot of Jagermeister chased by a glass of Red Bull. Most of the day, she sat at her table on two stacked chairs and swigged a bottle of beer.

You should check out an interview that Tiffany did with her during one of the breaks.

Click here to view the video of Anna

Phil Hellmuth and Jamie Gold started Day 2 in the poker room since the Fontana Room could only hold 24 of the 48 tables that would be needed to host the remaining 479 players. For the most part both players were behaved as they focused more on the hands in front of them than talking smack with one another.

Gold struggled for most of the day but managed to advance to Day 3 after he rivered a set of 10s and his opponent thought he was bluffing. Hellmuth caught cards and avoided playing big pots. That's a trait that plenty of the old school poker pros have a habit of doing. In the early stages of a major tournament, they are not willing to risk the majority of their stack unless they got the best of it. Hellmuth slowly accumulated chips as he played conservatively throughout the session. In an interview with PokerNews, he managed to refer to himself in the third person. "I'm playing small pots poker. That's Phil Hellmuth poker."

Thanks for the quote, bro.

Day 2 went as fast as I had seen a tournament progress. With ninety minute levels, play should have gone a tad slower. However, there were so many eliminations that we missed dozens and dozens because they flew by us so fast. I did see a few big named pros bust out like former WSOP Champions Johnny Chan, Jim Bechtel, Doyle Brunson, Joe Hachem, Tom McEvoy, Huck Seed, and Scotty Nguyen. Last year's champ Joe Bartholdi busted out along with Barry Greenstein, Chau Giang, Allen Cunningham, Erick Lindgren, Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, Marcel Luske, Gavin Smith, Gus Hansen, Kathy Liebert, Vanessa Rousso, Dewey Tomko, Devilfish, Bill Chen, and David Sklanasky.

Roland de Wolfe avoided losing most of his stack when he flopped two pair and it held up against JC Alvarado's flush draw. That hand pushed him over the 500K mark as he snagged the chiplead away from Hellmuth in the last hour on Day 2.
Here are the unofficial Top 10 in chips:
1 Roland de Wolfe 535K
2 Phil Hellmuth 528K
3 Sorel Mizzi 499K
4 Steve Wong 476K
5 Paul Wasicka 430K
6 Patrik Antonius 408K
7 Stan Fulton 397K
8 Jake Minter 396.5K
9 Can Kim Hua 384.8K
10 Paul Lee 382.7K

Notable Stacks:
Anna Wroblewski 346,600
Isaac "I Got 800K Stuck in Neteller" Haxton 318,700
Mike Wattel 313,100
Gavin Griffin 291,400
Sammy Farha 253,300
David Oppenheim 253,000
Daniel Alaei 237,300
Freddy Deeb 235,600
Ram "I Owe Phil Ivey a Shitload of Cash" Vaswani 234,900
David Levi 233,700
Krazy Kanuck 228,200
Barny Boatman 223,500
Carlos Mortensen 220,900
Amir Vahedi 218,500
David Daneshgar 194,500
ZeeJustin 193,300
Scott Clements 171,400
Chip Reese 171,100
Robert Mizrachi 163,300
Martin De Knijff 160,500
Joe Tehan 153,400
Hoyt Corkins 148,600
Abe Mosseri 147,900
Quinn Do 145,000
Phil Ivey 143,400
NeverWin 140,700
Vinny Vinh 129,300
Rob Hollink 128,000
Amnon Filippi 122,200
Jon Little 121,300
Bill Gazes 117,600
Sam Grizzle 112,000
Rehne Pedersen 111,100
Jennifer Harman 110,600
Billy Baxter 109,500
Johan Storakers 109,300
Erica Schoenberg 107,200
Scott Fischman 101,500
Erik Friberg 101,400
Jani Sointula 91,500
Jamie Gold 91,000
Mark Gregorich 84,100
John Myung 83,100
David Dicken 83,000
Ross Boatman 81,100
Lyle Berman 80,500
Isabelle Mercier 79,600
James Van Alstyne 77,300
Liz Lieu 76,500
Joe Sebok 73,900
David Singer 73,200
Ben Roberts 70,500
JohnnyBax 70,200
Melissa Hayden 66,400
Thomas Wahlroos 64,100
Greg FBT Mueller 62,200
Bob Stupak 61,200
Berry Johnston 58,400
Bob Feduniak 55,100
Allen Kessler 52,400
Shannon Shorr 51,500
Andy Black 48,800
Humberto Brenes 44,300
JC Tran 33,700
Nordberg 26,400
* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 2

Before the tournament started, one player (presumably a satellite qualifier) asked Todd Brunson to autograph his hat. Twenty minutes later, Todd Brunson busted out. At last year's WSOP, Snoopy was the first person to point out that Todd is a dead ringer for Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons. When Brunson busted out yesterday by a set over set, I muttered underneath my breath, "Worst beat... ever."

Dan Alspach's theme of the day was cats. He had a visor and a matching Hawaiian shirt with plenty of cats on both. Doesn't he know that cats are symbols of bad luck in some cultures? Alspach lost a race late in the day and busted out, joining his main squeeze JJ Lui on the rail.

The Birth of Cool: Sammy Farha
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

Sammy Farha got the nod for funkiest shirt of the entire field. It looked like he took one of my tapestries from the good old college days and turned it into a shirt. Far out man. But seriously, is there a poker player in the universe with a higher cool quotient than Sammy Farha?

Carlos Mortensen was playing his PSP at the table while Barry Geenstein was sending text messages and emails during the down time at the tables. The TD had to make an announcement that players had to step back from the tables to text message and use their phones.

Aaron Scott gets the award for Best Boart Impression. He had his entire table laughing in stitches, including the dealer. Everytime he scooped a pot, he'd say, "Niiiiiiiiiice!'

I was pulling for a few younger Scandi players to do well like Johnny Lodden and William Thorson. Both busted out on Day 2. The Fins are looking strong with Patrik Antonius and Jani Sointula still alive.

Ram Vaswani and Phil Ivey have been avoiding each other while they focus on poker. Been hearing both sides of their golf-prop bet story ever since I was in Australia and word got out that Ram lost his shirt. My two cents... Ram got hustled because he didn't do his homework. He should have known that Ivey's golf game improved and he had been playing in Mexico with Michael Jordan. Ram should pay his debt, take the hit like a man, and get the money back on the course after the WPT ends. It's not like Ivey would ever shy away from any future prop betting. Speaking of Ram, several members of the Hendon Mob are still alive including both Boatman brothers.

Although Isabelle Mercier, Melissa Hayden, Liz Lieu and Erica Schoenberg all advanced to Day 3, I lost track of Kristy Gazes. Jimmy Choo's favorite customer was shortstacked most of the day and busted out. Anna Wroblewski still leads all of the remaining women in the field.

Erica Schoenberg
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

Newhizzle didn't look too good with series bags under his eyes. The kid looked like he had been up for a week straight. He wore a Phil Lesh and Friends t-shirt while the day before he sported an Allman Brothers Band shirt. I'm laying good odds that Newhizzle has had some experience in high altitude training.

Huck Seed, on the other hand, always looks like tired like he just got up and had been waking and baking before work. The number on his Full Tilt jersey read.... 69. I have earned enough points on Full Tilt for a FT sports jersey. Too bad they won't let me do 420 as my number.

Devilfish complained about his table that featured Joe Hachem, David Oppemheim, and Young Pham. "Slowest table in the world," he screamed. "You guys must have been out smoking joints."

Foiled Coup, everyone's favorite homeless British photographer, showed up wearing a black suit with white socks. He was with a slutty looking blonde in a skimpy outfit and took a few photos of her on the veranda. He insists that she's a model from Germany, but I could have sworn that I've seen her exotic pole work at the Rhino sometime in the past. I was shocked that Foiled Coup has shifted his deviant focus off of Asian women.

I love a good segue. I was trying to come up with a nickname for Anna Wroblewski. I started calling her Anna the Poker Fairy. But man, that's kinda lame. I could do better. How about Anna the Little Lebowski? Leave your vote for her nickname in the comments.

Scotty Nguyen had three stacks of $10,000 in bills at his table. With a shortstack to start the day, he was getting his cash handy for a high stakes cash game after he busted out.

Andy Black put his Eminem t-shirt on hold as he wore a pink Capt. American shirt instead.

Capt. Tom's Penis is still alive. He's been keeping his eye on Anna's back.

During one of the breaks, I walked over to the sports book to put a bet in on the Pistons. Fuckers barely covered. I pushed as the Pistons won by 8. A push is almost as good as a win in Pai Gow, but sucks horribly in sports betting.

In case you were wondering, the WPT Championships have been ending early around 9pm. They have been playing without a dinner break which means straight poker from Noon to Nine with four fifteen minute breaks after each ninety minute level. Since the action is over early and I rush out of the Bellagio to go back to my room to write... there has not been too many hooker sightings at the Fontana Bar. Not to worry, there will be a few late nights on the schedule. Plenty of time to get new material for my upcoming book... Existentialist Conversations with Hookers.

And back by popular demand...
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Humberto Brenes
2. Mike Binger
3. The Grinder
4. Gus Hansen
5. Jim "KrazyKanuck" Worth
* * * * *

Don't forget to check out Flipchip's WPT Championship photos. He's the best in the business.

And you can follow the WPT Championship by visiting our live updates over at Poker News.

While you are there, peek at the Poker News extensive WPT Championship video gallery put together by our mulitmedia guru Shronk. The video gallery includes interviews with your favorite pros such as Phil Hellmuth, Paul Wasicka, and Vanessa Rousso.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Monday, April 23, 2007

WPT Championship Day 1B: Gary Greenburg and the $100 Belly Poke

By Pauly

As I walked out of the Fontana Room a quick flash from a camera blinded me. A woman the size of Lawrence Taylor wearing a fanny pack and a WPT visor snapped three photos in a row as I struggled to regain my vision. She was trying to get a picture of Doyle Brunson who lumbered behind me. I wanted to grab Texas Dolly's crutch and spear the overzealous tourist in the ribs.

Almost three hundred players filtered out into the casino area where they were mobbed by hundreds of fans, friends, and family members. The scene has become all too common at poker tournaments. Our celebrity culture worships anyone we see on the boob tube including poker players. The result is a swarm of autograph seekers. Of course in the 21st century the autograph has been replaced by the photograph as people fumbled with their camera phones and disposable cameras.

The air quickly filled with cigarette smoke as nicotine jonesin' players lit up. It had been over ninety minutes since their last cigarette and they chainsmoked and told other smokers bad beat stories while they fought off the sunburnt camera vultures. Several more camera phones appeared out of nowhere as fans grabbed a piece of any poker pro they could find. One young woman got groped by Devilfish as they posed for a photo near the slot machines. Another guy and his nine-year old son took a photo with Scotty Nguyen who held a beer in one hand and put his other arm around the kid.

"Excuse me," asked one forty-something guy with a beer gut the size of a boulder said as I made my way through the dense deluge of people. "Is Gary Greenburg playing?"

"Gary who?"

"Gary Greenburg. That guy who gives all his money to those African kids."

"You must mean Barry Greestein," I corrected him.

"Yeah Gary Greestein," he said.

"No. He played yesterday, but his son is over there," as I pointed to the Fontana Bar where Joe Sebok talked with a slimmer Gavin Smith.

I rushed over to the sportsbook and put in a couple of bets on the NBA playoffs. Since I had not played a single hand of poker since my arrival in Las Vegas on Friday, I needed my gambling fix. I craved action and bet the Mavericks, the Spurs, and the Cavs. I also bet the Yankees heavily. They had not been swept in Boston in what seemed like almost a decade. The game seemed like a lock. I went 1-3 with my picks as I found myself stuck a grand without playing one hand of Hold'em or Pai Gow.

I felt bad for Benjo because I got him involved with one of my vices.

"What have you done to the poor chap?" Jen from Blonde Poker said in her very proper English accent. "He's been in America for two days and he's picking up your bad habits."

"Strips clubs are next," I answered.

After reading about my March Madness adventures in the sportsbook at Red Rock with my brother and Senor, Benjo was intrigued about the sportsbooks in Las Vegas. He asked me about sports betting with the spread when we were in Monte Carlo. Back in France he bets on football but wanted to get in on some sportsbook action. He pulled out a $50 bill out of his wallet and told me to put it on the same team I was going to bet. Since Tony Parker was also French, it seemed like the right thing to bet on the Spurs. Of course, I felt terrible that my pick went down the crapper. Not only did I piss my money away, I also lost Benjo's money.

I grabbed a beer at the Sportsbook bar and walked back to the Fontana Room. I stood outside to observe the scene while the break ended. Spectators pestered the maroon blazered security guards to let them inside, while a wedding party walked through the entire crowd. They must have been taking wedding photos in the conservatory that had been pumping out flowery aromas due to the recent rotation of flora which fit into the spring theme. The groom carefully held up the bride's train as they navigated the crowd of degenerate gamblers and poker wastrels and all I could think was that 1 out of every 2 marriages fail in America. The young couple were a walking coinflip.

Back in the Fontana Room, there was barely any room to walk. A Dutch film crew camped out on the table in front of me which made it difficult to get in and out of my work area. I must have ruined dozens of shots as the camera guy cursed me out in Dutch.

The day was quiet even though Mike Matusow played. He was on the other side of the room and was relatively calm. Compared to the first day, the action was slow and nowhere as entertaining as the Phil Hellmuth and Jamie Gold spectacle. Those two should go on the road together.

Photo courtesy of Flipchip

The only fireworks involved Vinny Vinh and Devilfish. The two are feisty and love to talk smack. Vinh had been needling Devilfish all afternoon.

"You are not a Devilfish. You are a little fish," explained Vinh.

"Who are you?" shot back Devilfish. "Come to talk to me after you write a poker book."

That might have been the only banter all day which was minor compared to the Hellmuth-Gold pissing match.

The big story had to be the strength of the field with some of the best players in the history of poker. Over 20 multiple WSOP bracelet winners played on Sunday in the WPT Championships such as Doyle Brunson (10), Johnny Chan (10), Erik Seidel (7), Billy Baxter (7), Layne Flack (5), Ted Forrest (5), Huck Seed (4), Scotty Nguyen (4), Allen Cunningham (4), Daniel Negreanu (3), Chip Reese (3), Chau Giang (3), Dewey Tomko (3), Bill Chen (2), Mile Matusow (3), Minh Nguyen (2), Carlos Mortensen (2), Sam Farha (2), Humberto Brenes (2), Pat Poels (2), and Steve Z (2).

Oh in case you had a hard-on for things like chipcounts... Sammy Farha ended Day 1B as the chipleader with over 200K. Anna Whatshername ended Day 1A as the chipleader in her flight.

Players who did not advance to Day 2 included: Phil Laak, Erik Seidel, Clonie Gowen, The Grinder, Antonio Esfandiari, Ed Moncada, Marco Traniello, Layne Flack, Jen Tilly, Max Pescatori, Gene Todd, Bill Edler, Nam Le, sbrugby, Jeff Madsen, John Gale, Cyndy Violette, John Juanda, David "The Dragon" Pham, TJ Cloutier, Shaniac, Men The Master, Barry Shulman, Doug Lee, Mike Woo, Tuan Le, Johnny World Hennigan, Chad Brown, and Davidson Matthew.

* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 1B

Ted Forrest busted out on the second hand. He had his Aces cracked by the Hilton Sisters. Hollis Stabler rivered the set. Live poker is rigged.

Mike Matusow showed up to the tournament feeling sick. He skipped the first hour of play and took a nap on one of the plush circular couches that lined the wall of the Fontana Room.

Joe Hachem arrived fashionably late as he took a page out of Hellmuth's book.

Gus Hansen sat a table with Erick Lindgren, Lee Watkinson and Doyle Brunson. After hands that he played, he'd been see talking into a voice recorder in Danish.

Doyle Brunson bluffed Erick Lindgren out of a pot with.... 10-2. He showed the cards and flashed a huge smile. Lindgren rapped his fist on the table and said, "Nice one."

At the EPT Championship in Monte Carlo, there were over 200 press badges issued in a 604 player tournament. That's a ratio of 1 press member for every 3 players. At the WPT Championship, there were around 60+ badges issued for 640 players or one member of the press for every ten players.

Isabelle Mercier listened to a pink iPod mini at the table. Jen Harman has the same one but in green. Isabelle also sported a Montreal Canadians t-shirt. For most of the day, she was perched up on her chair... barefoot. She smoked a lot on the veranda where most of the European players hung out on their breaks.

Max Pescatori wore all red (from the waist up) including a red shirt and a red skull cap. The Italian Pirate was seen drinking Pellegrino.

Steve Hall aka Foiled Coup is having another rough tournament. Poor guy. Last year at the WPT Championships, he had his badge confiscated because it was a Poker Pages badge and he had quit their organization. The owner found out he was using their credentials and she bitched out a few WPT suits. They grabbed the badge and threw it in the trash can. This year, Foiled Coup has a badge since he's working for an Italian poker site. However, his laptop is on the fritz along with his camera. He had a borrowed digital camera with instructions that were in German. He would have switched it to English, but he couldn't figure out how since it was stuck in German mode.

Antonio Esfiandari's girlfriend somehow convinced the security guard to let her into the Fontana Room. She delivered him a pizza and a fruit cup. He didn't get a chance to finish the fruit cup. The magician busted out on the last hand of the day when his 9-9 ran into J-J.

Jen Tilly stormed out of the Fontana Room after she busted out. Hey, at least Bride of Chucky outlasted her boyfriend The Unabomber.

Benjo sweated David Benyamine's table in the poker room (where they had to use a couple of tables for the tournament). A few drunk fans on the rail were joking about Benyamine's recent weight gain. One guy offered Benjo $100 to poke Benyamine in the stomach. Benjo walked over to Benyamine and told him (in French) that he had a shot at free money if he could poker his belly. Benyamine laughed and said it was OK. Benjo poked him a few times and collected a $100 bill. He was up for the day after I lost him $50 on the Spurs game.

* * * * *

Don't forget to check out Flipchip's WPT Championship photos. And you can follow the action from live updates over at Poker News that are written by yours truly.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

WPT Championship Day 1A: The Golden Bluff and Anna Who?

There could have been worst places to work than the Fontana Room at the Bellagio Casino. Even though I was wedged up against the back wall on a table that was underneath one of the gigantic plasma screens and my laptop barely fit on the tiny table more suited for hobbits than a tournament reporter, I couldn't complain. As I glanced over my shoulder out the glass window that overlooked Las Vegas Blvd., I could glimpse at the majestic Bellagio fountains with the faux Eiffel Tower in the background. Then right in front of me sat the greatest show in poker.... Phil Hellmuth.

Ten time-bracelet winner. Youngest WSOP world champion. "Best NL Hold'em player in the world," as he's often claimed, the Poker Brat is as much as a marketing genius as he is a sensationalistic megalomanic hyena-hooting crybaby. Love or hate him, you can't take your eyes off the guy who is often the tallest player in the room and compulsively clad in all black. Aside from Mike Matusow, there's not a louder guy in poker.

Since I started covering tournaments, I've seen Hellmuth kick over chairs, call dozens of his opponents donkeys, admit that he can dodge bullets, and walk off the TV stage at the WSOP main event over to media row where he asked BJ and I what we were writing about him. I even interviewed him in the hallway at the Rio and I asked what was on his iPod. He happily showed me a ton of rap and hip-hop.

"I like Jay-Z," he said.

In the past two years, I had never had a better seat to cover poker. I sat right in the middle of Phil Hellmuth and Jamie Gold's tables. To my left was Hellmuth who berated everyone within a twenty-five foot radius and to my right was Gold who played nearly every hand and talked a fast as he played. There was never a dull moment in the Fontana Room because both players constantly jawed at their tablemates and when they grew bored of that, they talked shit with each other.

Hellmuth was operating in rare form. He arrived ninety minutes late in true Hellmuthian fashion. He sat down at his table just as the players went on the first break. He walked outside to the veranda where he chatted with Gold who sat at a table and ate a jumbo shrimp salad. John Bonetti, dressed like an old-time NBA referee wearing black sweat pants and a white and black shirt, pulled Hellmuth aside and quickly told him about Gold's bluff.

Gold sat at one of the most difficult starting tables that I had ever witnessed live. The Poker Shrink and I dubbed it the Champions Table which included: Tony Cousineau, Abe Mosseri, Hoyt Corkins (2003 WPT Foxwoods Champion), Maureen Feduniak, Adam Weinraub (2007 WPT Invitational Champion), Tuan Le (2005 WPT World Champion), Jamie Gold (2006 WSOP Champion), Francois Safieddine, and Scott Clements (2006 WSOP bracelet winner). England's John Duthie, the EPT creator and first player to ever win $1 million on a televised poker tournament, was moved to the table late in the afternoon along with 2004 WPT Champion Martin de Knijff.

If his table was not tough enough, Tuan Le drew a nightmare assignment as he sat to Gold's immediate right. Le's hellacious day began with the big bluff from Gold. It was still the first level, not even an hour in with the blinds at 25-50 as the players began with 50K in chips each. Both players had a penchant for playing any two cards. Known as a cagey and unpredictable player, I was surprised to see Le check on a board of 2s-2c-Jh-7d-4c. There must have been five or six thousand in the pot and Gold looked down at his stack and announced all in. Le sat and stared at the flop for several minutes as a panicked look blanketed his face. He said he had K-K but we'll never know for sure. I put him on A-7 or a small pair like 6-6 or 5-5 because he thought for a long time as Gold stood up. At that point, a wall of media reps surrounded the table. Camera crews fought for position as Gold paced back and forth behind the table.

"Will I be the first player out?" Gold asked the media.

When he was told that no one had been busted out yet, he turned to Le and said, "I've got a huge hand. I don't know, if it's taking you this long maybe you have a huge hand, too. If you do have me beat it'll be an amazing call."

Le must have put Gold on trip 2s if he actually held pocket Cowboys. Like I said, we'll never know what he really had. Le reluctantly tossed his cards into the muck as Gold flipped over 6c-3s for the bluff. Gold flashed a crooked politican's smile as he stacked up the pot. A stunned Le sat there as he resembled a man who just crapped his pants.

"He was about a minute away from sending me home. It wasn't looking good," Gold said to no one in particular.

Once Hellmuth got wind of the bluff, he challenged Gold to a prop bet. Gold gave Hellmuth 3 to 1 odds. If Gold advanced to Day 2, Hellmuth would give him $5K. If he busted out, he would have to give Hellmuth $15K. Hellmuth tossed him a Bellagio $5K chip to hold on to.

"I expect to get that back plus 15 more," he barked.

The two kept on trash talking for several minutes when Hellmuth announced, "You're the only one in the room who had the balls to bluff Tuan Le. Every hand that I'm in with Tuan, I make sure I have the nuts. But you pulled off a bluff. Every time you bluff Tuan, I'm going to give you $500. Cash."

Gold accepted the bounty and within a few minutes he called Hellmuth over. He successfully bluffed Le and Hellmuth forked over five one hundred dollar bills. Hellmuth said he'd up the bounty to $1,000. But then he got gun shy.

"I didn't think anyone could outplay Tuan. I have to scale that back down to $500," said Hellmuth as Gold shrugged his shoulders.

Twenty minutes later Gold shouted, "Phil, you owe me another $500."

Hellmuth tossed Gold $500 more in cash as Le sat there like a sullen muppet. Dejected and on mega tilt, he'd bust out towards the end of the day when he ran into Hoyt Corkin's pocket aces.

Although at one point, Hellmuth apologized to everyone at his table about his constant whining, he eventually continued his verbal diarrhea as he shit all over his opponents.

"You throw away A-K and this donkey shows you 5-6 off suit. They think it's a good play. They don't know how bad that is," he scolded one player.

After he flopped a set with J-J and turned a boat, he took a nice chunk of one of his opponents stacks as he admitted, "I was setting you up all day for that hand and you walked right into it. That's why I broke all those records at the World Series. I know my customers."

While Hellmuth and Jamie Gold put on a show for everyone in the Fontana Room, along the other wall everyone had their eyes on Anna Wroblewski. The 21-year old came out of nowhere to win an event at the Bellagio a week earlier. As the story goes, the nymph-like Wroblewski grew up in Chicago and moved to Las Vegas when she was 19 to play poker for a living. She played around town illegally before she went broke and headed back home. She returned to Sin City after she was finally legal but lost her bankroll again. Determined to stay in Las Vegas, she found a job in the service industry grinding out a $10/hr salary. Her first paycheck was $300. Grubby would have been proud, because she cashed it and headed for the Bellagio. She bought into a satellite for a $3K NL event and won a seat. Then she managed to win the entire event collecting a free seat into the WPT Championship and $337K in cash for a first place prize.

Anna Wroblewski
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

Wroblewski bounced all over the room and out to the veranda a couple of times. At one point, Tiffany spotted her double fisting beers while she incessantly talked as the rest of her table sat in silence

"Why isn't anyone else talking?" she asked.

"Because we were waiting for you to stop," answered Irish pro Padraig Parkison.

The guys at the adjacent table had a 50K prop bet going on Wroblewski's weight. The over/under was set at 90 pounds.

She played with a ton of confidence as she became the first player past the 100K mark. She sent Jeff Madsen packing early after she flopped a set of 2's against the two-time WSOP bracelet winner. She added more chips after she scooped a hefty pot with just Ace high.

"Don't you hate it that I keep doing the right thing? They said I was a calling station," Wrobleski joked as her opponent tried to bluff at a pot with the Varkonyi and lost.

Around 8pm, Wrobleski passed the 200K mark and she ended Day 1a as the chipleader with 211K.

"Anna who?" one pro mentioned when he asked us who the chipleader was.


* * * * *

Bouncin Round the Room on Day 1A

The first day of the WPT Championships featured 304 players in all and only 220 players advanced to Day 2. More than half the field has to play on Sunday, but some of the biggest names in poker were at the Bellagio on Saturday. The field was so large that both the Fontana Room and the poker room had to be utilized.

Meanwhile in the glass encased Bobby's Room, a high stakes mixed game began that featured Gus Hansen, David Benyamine, Amir Vahedi, and Patrik Antonius.

Change100 would have had a field day ragging on the fashion choices of some of the players. Dan Alspach arrived in his typical accoutrements that included an extremely loud Hawaiian shirt and a matching visor. His wife JJ Lui sported a black Full Tilt basketball jersey with the #88 on the back and JJ Lui written on the back.

Gavin Smith went for a sophisticated new look with a sleek black Kangol newsboy cap and I hope he burned his old FT baseball hat.

Johnny Bax wasn't wearing his lime green or baby blue shirts. He opted for a canary yellow number which would be perfect if a thick London fog all of a sudden encompassed the entire Bellagio. We'd still be able to see Johnny Bax.

I spotted a couple of Europeans playing in Day 1a including Norway's Johnny "Bad_ip" Lodden and Finland's Jani Sointula. Johnny Lodden is an exceptional player who's biggest fault is his inability to shift gears... mainly into low gear. Lodden only knows how to play super fast and he's been known to amass monsterstacks in EPT events and then implode late into the tournament afer he loses several "monsterpottens" as the Swedes would say. While Patrik Antonius and Juha Helpi are often mentioned as the preeminent players from Finland, you cannot over looked Jani Sointula's game at all. He's the best Scandi poker player that you never heard of. And you can't miss the guy. With long blonde hair, he looks like one of the German terrorists and Hans Gruber's right hand thug from the first Die Hard movie.

I noticed that Hoyt Corkins wore ear plugs at the tables and I wondered if that was to prevent him from hearing Hellmuth and Gold yap back and forth.

Andy Black wore his favorite Eminem shirt. Stephen Bartley from Gutshot described Andy Black's dressing habits in Monte Carlo better than anyone I've read. Bartley wrote, "Andy Black wears the same clothes as yesterday. It's minimalist poker."

I forgot to mention the odd moment when TJ Cloutier walked up to Hellmuth and handed him a wad of cash and a couple of chips. I wondered if TJ was paying back a loan or if he was giving Hellmuth his cut after staking him.

Barry Greenstein sat with his back to one of the plasma screens. He must have had money on the Bulls-Nets game because he turned around every thirty-seconds to check the score.

Over seven tables filled with media reps crammed into the far corners of the Fontana Room as there was barely any room to squeeze through the labyrinth of poker tables. With photographers, cocktail waitresses, floor staff, and players walking back and forth, it was impossible to gain access to some tables because there was simply no way to get close to the action.

CardPlayer and PokerWire took over two full tables while the Poker Shrink, BJ, and I shared one table as other members of the PokerNews crew would stop by to use our laptops. The European press shared a table and it was great to see Snoopy and Jen from Blonde Poker covering the first ever WPT event along with Benjo, a French poker journalist that I met in Monte Carlo who loves The Sopranos. Just to put things in perspective... the entire press room in Monte Carlo was bigger than the Fontana Room where the WPT Championships were being held. Maybe it's time to host the tournament in a bigger facility such as the Bellagio ballrooms where the final tables are taped.

Liz Lieu
(Photo courtesy of Flipchip)

The always lovely Liz Lieu played in Day 1a. She had a set outdrawn early in the day and also got her Aces cracked. She told me about the hand where her opponent called a big raise preflop. On a board of 9-9-2, she bet out 3.2K, he re-raised to 5K, she re-raised to 12K, and he moved all in. She knew that he either held A-9 or 2-2. Either way, she was beat and folded A-A. Pros can and do fold pocket Aces when they have to. Her opponent flashed her his hand... 2-2. He flopped the boat and luckily for Liz that she didn't lose her entire stack. She finished the day around 43K. I didn't charge her for the bad beat story.

And last but not least, back by popular demand...
Last 5 Pros (and Guy Who Gets to Put His Penis in Celine Dion) that I Pissed Next To...
1. Jani Sointula
2. Jamie Gold
3. Renee Angelil
4. Brad Berman
5. Tom McEvoy
* * * * *

Don't forget to check out Flipchip's WPT Championship photos. And you can follow the action from live updates over at Poker News.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.