If you love the thrill of an all-in, the first two hours of ESPN's coverage of the NAPT Venetian $25,000 Bounty Shootout were tailor-made for you. An accelerated structure, a field of 49 aggressive pros and a $5,000 price on each player's head made for an action-heavy evening of televised poker. Add to that a $100,000 bonus for collecting the most bounties and the whole concept of equity was turned on its head. Seven tables of seven started this event and by the end of the first two episodes, six sharpshooters were left, each of them at least $75,000 richer.
The featured table(s): Hour one saw John Duthie, Greg Raymer, Phil Hellmuth, Hevad "Rain" Khan, Hoyt Corkins, Adam "admo" Richardson, and Steven Paul (fka Steve Paul-Ambrose) take the stage. In the second hour, Daniel Negreanu, John Hennigan, Phil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond, Brett Richey, Lee Markholt, Andrew Robl, and Alex "AJKHoosier1" Kamberis took seats under the lights.
Who else played?: Annie Duke, Faraz Jaka, Vanessa Rousso, David Williams, Phil Laak, Joe Sebok, Chris Moneymaker, Joe Cada, Jason Mercier, Peter Eastgate, Dario Minieri, Tony G, Hasan Habib, Matt Glantz, Issac Haxton, Justin Bonomo and Joe Cassidy to name a few.
Tilt Phil Hellmuth. Tilt him early: During the first level of play, EPT creator John Duthie dared to four-bet his against Hellmuth's ace-king. After a lengthy speech that we mostly tuned out, Hellmuth reluctantly made the laydown. Later on, Duthie pulled the same move, this time with aces against Hellmuth's pocket threes. Hellmuth called the four-bet, but folded to Duthie on the flop. Duthie ultimately busted the Poker Brat. Hellmuth three-bet shoved for 17 big blinds holding and Duthie called with the dominating . There was no love for Hellmuth on the board, and Duthie pocketed the bounty. Ever the gentleman, Duthie told Hellmuth the truth about what he was holding on those two previous hands.
Scott Seiver's six-shooter: Seiver knocked out every player at his table, collecting six bounties worth a total of $30,000. His victims included Antonio Esfandiari, Barry Greenstein, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Sorel Mizzi, Chau Giang, and Brian "tsarrast" Rast, the latter two taken out on the same hand. Seiver also earned $75,000 for winning his table for a total haul thus far of $105,000.
Best makeover: The curly, grown-out fro and hipster glasses? Not a bad look for David Williams.
Biggest fashion faux-pas: The light gray suit Alex Kamberis donned at the feature tables was juuuuust this side of "Miami Vice" territory. However, Faraz Jaka's unfortunate knit beanie, complete with side flaps and braided tassels was truly not ready for prime time.
The sick call award: John Duthie limped in from the small blind holding , and Adam Richardson raised from the big blind holding . Duthie called and hit an open-ended straight draw on the flop. He check-called a 3,500 bet from Richardson, then checked again when the hit the turn. Richardson checked behind. The river was the , and despite missing his draw, Duthie led out for 11,000. Richardson somehow found a call with his king-high and took down the pot.
Norman Chad’s shtick-of-the-week: “It’s tough to win a bounty shootout in a sweater vest” (as Adam Richardson is eliminated by Hoyt Corkins’ runner-runner straight).
Floppus avoidus: Apparently, all the years of bad beats have led Chris Moneymaker to develop a severe psychological tick. When faced with an all-in situation, Moneymaker’s brain synapses fire, releasing a chemical that leads him to flee the table as the board is dealt. The damage is so severe that Moneymaker’s fight or flight responses were still igniting, even after he rivered a royal flush when all-in with against Jason Mercier’s .
Moneymaker eventually eliminated Mercier, but could not get past Ashton “theASHMAN103” Griffin. Moneymaker ran his queens into Griffin’s aces and was unable to get away from them, even on an ace-high flop. Griffin turned a full house and Moneymaker got his chips in the middle drawing to a single out. He succumbed a few hands later, his falling to Griffin’s pocket fives. His consolation prize? $15,000 in bounties.
Who’s moving on?: Ashton Griffin, Bretty Richey, Peter Eastgate, Joe Cassidy, Faraz Jaka, Scott Seiver, and Hoyt Corkins each won their first table and will move on to the seven-handed final.
Are you ready to take your game on the road? LAPT and WSOP satellites are running right now on PokerStars.