The first thing you notice upon entering the PPT set is the look is different than that of its cousin, the WPT. The PPT set has the look of an old warehouse, where people have gathered to play a hush hush game of good ol' backroom poker.
But, the participants don't look like they are dressed to play in a backroom. The feel for the players is definitely "I know I'm going to be on TV, and I am dressed for the occasion.". One thing of note for the PPT that is different is the players are allowed to wear logos that are prominent, and everyone except Bigler was wearing some kind of online poker wear at this table.
Another change from the WPT is, at the PPT final table we have the return of the "action clock". Players have 90 seconds to make a decision when the action is on them. Once a show, each player has the option to extend that time period by 30 seconds. In the past, some may remember I was negative toward the addition of the action clock to a WPT telecast. Now, after careful consideration, and watching the action clock in, well, action again, I have decided....I still don't like it.
As for the rest of the production, the lighting is more focused, without the motion lights circling the room. The atmosphere is more subdued than the festive atmosphere that the WPT creates. The PPT focuses on the poker itself.
One welcome addition to the PPT is the addition of Jan Fisher to the table announcer role, the role held by her friend Linda Johnson for many of the WPT telecasts. Fisher is joined by the commentators Mark Seif, and Matt Korvoy (sp?), who call all the action in a set up roughly similar to that of Mike & Vince's set up on the WPT.
To refresh your memory, since the last hand played in this tournament was three weeks ago, here are the players that remain, and their chip counts.
Seat 1- Chris Bigler 296,000 chips
Seat 2- Alan Krell 190,000
Seat 3- Daniel Negraneau 549,000
Seat 4- Erick Lindgren 453,000
Seat 5- Dennis Waterman 185,000
Seat 6- Asher Derei 133,000
On to the poker now, as the one amateur (wait, isn't this supposed to be the PROFESSIONAL Poker Tour??) left in the field was the first to go out. Alan Krell apparently won his spot into this event online, and he made the most of it by getting to the final table. But Krell was the first to go tonight. Krell pushed pocket sixes a bit too hard, and ran into the trip 5's (that would eventually become the quad 5s) held by Chris Bigler. Bigler rivered the fourth 5, but didn't need it, as his set was good. Alan Krell got ten minutes of camera time, and $25,000 for his trouble.
Daniel Negraneau was here, but something seemed amiss. It may have just been me, but Daniel did not seem on top of his game, and called about 130,000 of his chips to Bigler and was out kicked. Daniel is as good as they come, but his instincts may have been a little off tonight.
Asher Derei had already had one double up, but he had also been clipped in a big pot by Lindgren, and he decided his AJ was good to move in. Chris Bigler had pocket 10's in the big blind, and quickly called. The board came Q758K, and Asher was out of his first television final table in 5th place.
Down to four, the chip counts looked like this...
Dennis Waterman 100k
Dennis Waterman was now the short stack, and the target at the table. Dennis managed to double up off Erick with an A7 versus Erick's 10 10. The real trick here was Dennis did it without an Ace. Two 7's on the flop made Erick the guy with precious few outs.
But Dennis had to make a stand, and he chose to do so with AQ of hearts. This time it was Daniel who had the pair, and had to call. Daniel's Jacks held up, and Dennis Waterman was the fourth place finisher.
Now down to three, the chip counts were...
Next, the hand that shaped the rest of the night occurred. Erick raised from the button, Bigler called from the small blind, and next was a chapter out of "Who wants to be a Millionaire". Daniel, in the big blind decided to "ask the audience" whether he should call. Of course, the audience wanted action, and encouraged Daniel to call. Daniel did, and it put him in a bind. Erick led out for 80,000 after a flop of J83, and Bigler folded. When it got back around to Daniel, he raised the bet up to 230,000. Erick took a minute, and decided to move all in.
Daniel then went into the tank, and actually called his one "time out" for the show, thus buying him 30 extra seconds to decide whether to call or not. At the end of the extra 30 seconds, Daniel still could not decide, the table turned red, and Daniel's hand was declared dead. Lindgren took down the pot, and was now the chip leader at the table. Daniel shook his finger at the audience in a fun display of "see what you made me do", but the damage was done.
The very next hand proved to be Daniel's last. Daniel moved in with A7, and for the second time tonight, the big blind (Lindgren) woke up with pocket tens. The board came three 9's, and two little cards, and the night was over for Daniel. He went over to his interview, but came back to punch Lindgren a few times after Lindgren announced that he had bluffed Daniel off the hand two hands earlier. Daniel finished in third place, and collected $60,000. If you read his blog, you will know that only makes him down $380,000 for the trip. Yikes.
Now down to two, Lindgren had a massive chip lead (1.4 million to 400k). Lindgren did a really good job of playing the big stack, and moved on Bigler 4 or 5 times in the first 10 hands of heads up play.
Eventually, Bigler had to pick a hand, and chose A2 of hearts to make his stand. Lindgren had pocket 3's, and chose to call. The flop was a very funny scene, as both players leapt with a "woo hoo" when the flop came down. Bigler saw an Ace, and tested his vertical leap (not great in case you were wondering), only to see the third 3 for Lindgren as the flop was A Q 3. Bigler's 'woo hoo' turned into 'DOH!' when he saw the 3. The turn, and river brought no help, and Chris Bigler finished 2nd, and picked up $100,000 for his troubles.
At the end of the day, the champion was Erick Lindgren, who had his parents join him on stage to celebrate his victory. In addition to the $200,000 top prize, Lindgren got his entry into the $25,000 WPT championship at Bellagio.
The last month has been quite an experience, and I want to thank Tournament Director Cheri Dokken, and Jeff, Ginger, and Kevin for really making this a month to remember. Until next time....Thanks for reading.