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World Poker Tour Championship - $25,000 buy in Main Event - Day One

World Poker Tour Championship - $25,000 buy in Main Event - Day One 0001

With the poker room here being renovated, the main event of the World Poker Tour Championship was (mostly) held in a room called the Fontana Bar. The Fontana Bar has a small stage, which works out well as an elevated area for the "featured table". But every table here is a featured table. With 452 of the finest poker players in the world ponying up $25,000 each, only the crème de la crème of the poker world are here playing. For example, here are ½ of the players at table seventeen: Phil Ivey, John 'World' Hennigan, TJ Cloutier, Steve Z, Michael "Grinder" Mizrachi, and Jim McManus.

The Bellagio is such a great environment, and in fact, our 'press table' is outside of the Bellagio, overlooking the lake where the fountains are putting on a show. This is by far the nicest 'press area' in the history of tournament poker, and I could get used to this. But the show that most people are interested in is inside the doors, where 17 of the 22 tables are being played (the other five tables are in a remote area across the casino). Most of the big names are in this room however, and this truly feels like the Superbowl of Poker.

The Superbowl is played in two halves, and so is the World Poker Tour Championship, as there are two 'flights' being played for the first five rounds of this tournament. Half the field is playing today, and the other half will start tomorrow. Players who survive day one will return on Wednesday to play out the rest of the tournament. The structure of the tournament is designed to give the maximum amount of edge to the more skilled players, with six full days of poker to be played. That is a lot of poker.

Speaking of poker, through the first break, we had zero eliminations, which is indicative of the level of skill, and lack of gambling in the early levels. The one player who stood out through the first break was Michael 'Grinder' Mizrachi, who had accumulated 70,000 chips in the first 90 minutes of play. Also big early were Joe Awada, Josh Arieh, Lyle Berman, and Greg Raymer.

Action was really slow, as the starting chips were so large relative to the blinds that people had all day to play. One notable late entry was Mr. Late entry himself, Phil Hellmuth who likes to show up a bit late to big events...the bigger the event, the later the entry. This is the WPT Championship, so Phil sauntered in at the beginning of level three.

It took four hours before I saw a 'name' player all in, which was Carlos Mortensen. Carlos took A9 of clubs against AK, and survived with a third club on the river to double up.

Early eliminations today were Layne Flack, Hoyt Corkins, and Freddy Deeb. Deeb turned a straight, but ran into a flopped flush. The first star on star bustout happened as Andy Bloch moved in on John Juanda with a flush, and straight draw. Juanda had flopped a set, and needed to dodge 13 cards to double up. The river was a Queen, however giving Bloch Broadway, and putting Juanda out on Las Vegas Blvd.

The bad beat of the day award goes to John Shipley. John took his Kings against Lee Watkinson's Jacks...You know the rest, and Shipley was out of chips.

This was not a day marked by action, though as by even at the end of level 4, the average stack still had over 144 times the size of the big blind...plenty of room for a little play.

The prize structure for this event is as flat as any I can remember. One in FOUR AND A HALF players cashes in this event. 100 of the 452 starting players will get paid. The payouts are:

1st place - $2,856,150

2nd - $1,698,390

3rd - $896,375

4th - $518,920

5th - $377,420

6th - $264,195

7th - $188,710

8th - $150,970

9th - $132,095

10th- $113,225

11th thru 15th - $94,355

16th thru 20th - $75,485

21st thru 30th - $56,615

31st thru 40th - $47,180

41st thru 50th - $37,740

51st thru 100th (!!!) - $30,000

At the end of level five, we are done for the day. We have 178 players left, and some notables that have left us are Martin deKnijff , Chip Jett, Dan Harrington, and Chip Reese. Here are some selected (and rough) chip counts. Flight 'B' of day one begins tomorrow. See you then.

Scotty Nguyen 233,750

Eric 'E-Dub' Weiner 230,000

Robert Alexander 180,000

Greg Raymer 150,000

Alan Goehring 150,000

Josh Arieh 140,000

Thunder Keller 130,000

Ron Rose 129,000

Dan Alspach 120,000

Russell Rosenblum 120,000

Andy Bloch 116,625

Barry Greenstein 115,000

'Grinder' Mizrachi 100,000

Isabelle Mercier 93,000

Steven Brecher 85,000

Erik Seidel 85,000

Eskimo Clark 83,325

Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson 75,000

Annie Duke 71,000

Robert Mizrachi 70,000

Huck Seed 65,000

David Chiu 65,825

T. J. Cloutier 65,000

Steve Z 65,000

Phil Hellmuth 58,650

Phil Ivey 55,000

Lee Watkinson 55,000

Lyle Berman 55,000

Chris Bigler 52,775

Kathy Leibert 50,000

Doyle 50,000

John D'Agostino 50,000

Joe Awada 50,000

Mel Judah 48,000

Joe Cassidy 40,000

Harry Demetriou 38,000

Todd Brunson 35,000

Surinder Sunar 33,675

Dewey Tomko 30,000

Paul Wolfe 25,000

Kenna James 25,000

Howard Lederer 23,175

Carlos Mortensen 17,000

Gus Hansen 11,000

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