As they built the World Poker Tour set behind us, the final six tables of the Shooting Star event were moved to the other side of the floor, where the cash games had lived for the past three days. No cash games on this side today, but plenty of cash to be had.
Thirty Four players started in the quest to be on television, and win $1,000,000. Only six players would make the telecast, and only one would make $1,000,000. As an interesting twist, Tournament Director Matt Savage decided it would be interesting to play six tables of six handed play. The WPT final table is six handed, so players could prepare with a day of six handed play. The blinds were 1,500/3,000, and the average chip count was around 127,000.
The day started with a flurry of bustouts, as you might expect with so many players being fairly short stacked. Before my seat was warm, four players lost coin flips, and were out. Sean Daulat, Son Ly, Steve Kim, and James Wilson all got the worst of it early, and finished 34th through 31st respectively.
The first elimination from a player who was not short stacked was also our first bad beat. Noah Jefferson took his AK suited (diamonds) against Danny Nguyen's .AK suited (clubs). A club on the river put three clubs on the board, and Noah was done. Noah Jefferson is a good young player to watch for, and today he was the first one out at the $25,000 pay level, in 30th place.
Our first top ten chip holder elimination was next, as Ian Kalman had his Aces cracked. The flop was QK6, Ian bet out, and Danny Nguyen called. The turn was a 9, and Ian bet out, committing himself to the pot in the process. Danny raised all in, and Ian was trapped. Ian called, Danny turned over J 10 for the nuts, and Ian's day was done far too soon. Ian Kalman, 29th place - $25,000. Danny Nguyen was now building a serious stack, and may be a force to be reckoned with.
Speaking of Nguyens, (three of our final 28 players share that last name) Phi Nguyen was the next to go. Phi pushed his A9 of diamonds a bit hard, and ran into AQ. A nine hit the flop, but a Queen hit the river, and we had one less Nguyen. Phi Nguyen, 28th place - $25,000.
Next to go was Tony Ma. Tony had pocket Queens, but was unlucky to run into Bernard Ko, and his pocket Kings. Tony was a big dog, and was sick as a dog to see Bernard flip over his Kings. The board was no help, and in fact a King hit the river, which Bernard did not need. Trip Kings were good, and Ma was gone. Tony Ma, 27th place, $25,000.
All of this activity was in the first hour of the tournament. We had lost about 30% of the field in less than 60 minutes. The last one in that flurry of bustouts was a guy you could root for. Randy Larson had won his seat online for $4. That's what I said, $4. His $4 investment was an excellent one, but like all dreams, his day had to come to an end. Randy took A 10 into his final hand of the tournament. Chau Vu, who had a lot of chips, called with AQ. To make matters worse, a Queen hit the flop, and Randy's magical ride was about to come to an end. His return on investment was 6,250 times. Since we are in silicon valley, I can only think they haven't seen this kind of return on investment since the heady days of the internet boom. Randy Larson, 26th place, $25,000.
Richard Harrock was the next to go, again all of this action was on the first level of play today. Richard put his money in with AQ. The youngest player in the field, Corey Cheresnick called with pocket tens. The tens held up, and Richard Harrock was out of the tournament in 25th place, picking up $25,000.
Next up was the cardiac hand. Michael Miller moved in with Q9 of clubs. Chip Jett called with KJ. Chip was ahead on the flop of K 10 7, but the turn was a J, making a straight for Miller. The river was a King, giving Jett a full house, and giving us the second lead change this hand. Michael Miller took it in stride, and strode to the desk to pick up his $30,000 for finishing 24th place.
Next, it was Woo on Vu. Mike Woo moved in with AQ, and was called by Chau Vu with JJ. Chau had been on a rush, so it was no surprise that a Jack hit the turn, and Vu busted Woo. Many onlookers asked Woo who? But Michael knew exactly who he was a guy who was $30,000 richer for finishing 23rd place.
This was Shooting Star, and that meant there were bounties out there to be had. Our first bounty of the day was Miami John. Miami hadn't seen a hand all day, and pushed in with pocket eights. Danny Nguyen called him with KQ of hearts. Danny continued his rush by flopping a straight. Dead to runners, Miami John began running for the desk to collect his money. Danny also picked up some money, $5,000 to be exact for busting Cernuto. Miami John Cernuto, 22nd place - $30,000.
I think it important to mention that the six-handed play was already having a big impact on play. At the end of level one, we had lost 13 of the 34 players in the field.
It was only appropriate that we lost our next player on the first hand after the break as John Schorr moved in with A8 of clubs. Chip Jett had AK, and called in a heartbeat. The board was A5456, and Chip's kicker left John without any chips. John Schorr, 21st place, $30,000.
Bernard Ko was the next to go. Ko was getting short, and moved in when he found AJ. Gus did the math, and decided he had to call with AQ. Nothing hit the board to help Ko, and Ko was free to go. Bernard Ko, 20th place, $30,000.
The next elimination was Jerry Reed. Jerry was noticeable in that he wore bright satin, Asian inspired robes every day of the tournament. Today Jerry was outfitted in a really bright red satin number, which to say the least stood out. The line of the day belonged to Chip Jett, who when Reed came to sit as his table said "Man, I was going to wear that exact outfit, thank god I changed my mind.". A laugh was had by all, but Jerry wasn't laughing when his final hand came up. Jerry was a healthy favorite to Gus Hansen, as Gus called Jerry's all in with K 10. Jerry had QQ, and felt OK about it. But this WAS Gus Hansen who he was against, and that meant the King was coming. The King did come, and Jerry and his red robes were gone. Jerry Reed, 19th place - $30,000.
Billy Baxter had not had a lot of luck today, and AK looked pretty good to him. Allie Prescott had 55,and felt like he was ahead, so he called. The board of QQ225 actually rivered a full house for Allie, but he was ahead anyway. Day one chip leader Billy Baxter finished in 18th place, and picked up $40,000.
Ryan Schaffer had survived the flurry, but could hang on no more. Ryan moved his chips in with AJ, and Men the Master called him with AQ. An Ace came off, but Men's kicker held up, and Men took a long drink of his Corona, content with another victory. Ryan Schaffer had to feel OK, considering he started 26th in chips, but held on for 17th, and moved up two pay levels to $40,000.
It felt like an eternity when almost 10 minutes went by without an elimination. Then Gerson Mosbacher put his money in with AK. Danny Nguyen had QQ, and had been living right all day, and this hand was no exception. No overcard for Gerson, and he was our 16th place finisher. Gerson now had $40,000 to do with as he pleased.
I must say it was pretty remarkable to lose over half the field in the first 90 minutes of play, and nearly all of press row was having cramping in their hands from the massive amount of quick typing needed to try to keep up.
Maybe another ten minutes before we lost another player. Patrick Antonious moved his chips in with AJ, and Chau Vu, who like Danny Nguyen had been hot as a pistol called with 33. The good news, an Ace and a Jack on the flop .The bad news - a three on the flop, and Chau's hot streak continued. No help from here forward for Patrick, and the slick looking European packed his bags with the $40,000 he had earned for finishing 15th place.
We had 14 players left in, and four of them were Shooting Stars. Not for long, though as Antonio Esfandiari was all in after doubling up Sandar Szentkuti a few hands prior, and being clipped for 100,000 chips. On this hand Antonio was looking to get doubled up, as he put his money in with QQ. Andy Miller called Antonio with AQ of hearts. Antonio walked across the room, resigned to ride his fate out through Matt Savage's announcements over the PA. The flop was K 10 4 with one heart, but when Matt announced "the turn is an Ace", the magician walked over to pick up his backpack, and get his Dad, who had been here to support him. Antonio disappeared into the mist, and picked up $40,000 for his 14th place finish. Andy Miller picked up $5,000 for busting Antonio, and about 90,000 chips to add to his stack.
Next to go was Jason Berilgen. Jason moved in with KQ, and Gus called him with AQ. The board came all little cards, and Jason had a nice run, which was now over. At this point, Gus was sitting on a big stack, and you could begin to see yet another WPT final table for him. Jason Berilgen, 13th place - $60,000.
With 12 left, the approximate chip counts were..
Danny Nguyen 714,000 chips
Gus Hansen 660,000
Chip Jett 621,000
Chau Vu 409,000
Jay Martens 402,000
Sandar Szentkuti 396,000
Andy Miller- 301,000
Men the Master 266,000
Jan Stein 152,000
Corey Cheresnick 138,000
James Van Alstyne 132,000
Allie Prescott 130,000
Now down to two tables, they would play two six handed tables, until they get to ten, then combine to one, and play down to the final six for the TV table.
Allie Prescott was the next to go. Allie was second in chips entering the day, and hadn't had a lot of luck today. Allie's streak continued, as he took JJ into battle for all his chips. Danny Nguyen called with A2 of diamonds, and was running hot. Danny stayed hot, as the first card off was an Ace, and Allie was dead to two outs. No miracle for Allie, who was our 12th place finisher, and picked up $50,000 for his troubles.
A strange pot was next, as Jay Martens moved in for 375,000 chips into a 50,000 pot. The board read 458, and Danny Nguyen called instantly with two pair (45). Jay was on a move, and had A7 for a gutshot. No gutshot for Jay, but running Aces kicked Danny in the gut, and cost him almost 400,000 in chips. Jay Martens was now the chip leader after being hit with a miracle.
Almost two hours until the next player had to jet. That player was Chip Jett. Chip was holding pocket nines, and moved in to a flop of 6 3 2 with two clubs. Gus did the math, and made the call. The turn was a 5 of clubs, giving Gus a flush, and Chip was out of chips. Such a flurry of activity ensued, that neither Gus, nor the tournament staff realized right away that Gus was due $5,000 for busting Chip. Gus took the money however, and Chip took the $50,000 for placing 11th.
Now the play was consolidated into a final table of ten. Gus had a mountain of chips, as did Danny Nguyen, and Jay Martens.
James Van Alstyne, who was the chip leader entering the day was the next to go. The last hand before dinner break, James moved in with pocket nines, and ran into Sandar's KK. A third King on the flop made James Van Alstyne's nines all but dead. James Van Alstyne, 10th place - $65,000.
Down to nine, the counts looked like this:
Jay Martens 1,014,000
Danny Ngyuen 886,000
Gus Hansen 699,000
Sandar Szentkuti 504,000
Men the Master 400,000
Corey Cheresnick 314,000
Andy Miller 288,000
Chau Vu 196,000
Jan Stein 101,000
The next player out was Jan Stein. Jan had essentially not played a pot for the last hour or so, and he moved all his chips in with QQ. Corey found AK of clubs, and re-raised to isolate Jan. The flop was J72 with two clubs. The turn was the Ace of Spades, Jan wouldn't need to play any more hands. Jan Stein, 9th place, $100,000.
I am going to coin a term here. From just started Pokernews.com dictionary "Gus'd: Adv When an all in player gets called by a hand that is a big dog, and has no chance to win". Chau Vu got Gus'd. Chau moved in with AK, and Gus Hansen called with K 9. The flop was 10 8 7, giving Gus an opened ended straight. The turn was a 6, and Chau had been Gus'd. Chau Vu, 8th place, $130,000.
On the next hand, Gus got into a pot with Andy Miller, The flop came K 2 10, and Andy Miller moved in with AK. Gus had flopped a set, and called immediately. For the record, this is not being "Gus'd" as this is a more traditional way to win a pot. There were no miracles for Miller, and we were down to our TV table six. Andy Miller, 7th place - $160,000.
The six players to play tomorrow on TV are:
Gus Hansen - 1,007,000 in chips
Men The Master Nguyen 250,000
Jay Martens 1,165,000
Danny Nguyen 881,000
Corey Cheresnick 769,000
Sandar Szentkuti - 250,000
The final table will tape at 4pm. See you there.