The 2008 edition of the PartyPoker Premier league kicked off yesterday at 3 Mills Studio in London, with 12 of the world's top stars battling it out for a million-dollar prize pool. In the PartyPoker Premier League, the invitees are battling through preliminary rounds of six-handed tournaments to win their way to the final table. The top four point-getters from the preliminary rounds are assured seats, with the remaining players battling heads-up for the remaining two seats.
The 2008 field includes nine returning players from 2007, including 2007 champion Juha Helppi, Dave 'The Devilfish' Ulliott, Tony G, Andy Black, Phil Hellmuth, Ian Frazer, Vicky Coren, Roland de Wolfe and Eddy Scharf. New faces for 2008 include Annie Duke, Marcel Luske and Alex Kravchenko, who burst onto the international poker scene at the 2007 World Series of Poker, recording six cashes and winning one bracelet.
The first heat was a six-handed tournament featuring Helppi, Ulliott, Hellmuth, Luske, Duke and Tony G. The 2007 champ Helppi was the first to bust when he found himself short-stacked and facing a preflop raise from Annie Duke. Helppi called all in with , and Duke tabled . The board ran out , and Duke's ace kicker played to send Helppi out in sixth for zero points in Heat #1.
Ulliott was next to bust when he moved all in over the top of Marcel Luske's preflop raise with . Luske called with , and hit the flop. The turn and river came down and brought no help to the Devilfish, who exited in fifth. Phil Hellmuth busted next when he got his chips in good against Annie Duke with to Duke's . Hellmuth, though, was drawing thin after the flop, and the rest of the board ran out to bust the 11-time WSOP bracelet winner.
Marcel Luske went out in third place when he lost a race with Annie Duke for his tournament life. Duke's held up against Luske's , leaving Duke heads-up with Tony G for the Heat #1 win. Duke took more than a 2:1 chip lead into heads-up play, but Tony G came from behind to knock out Duke and secure the win. In the final hand, Tony G got the chips in ahead with against Duke's , and the board ran out to give Tony G the heat.
At the end of Heat 1, Tony G had the points lead for one of the final-table spots, as the leader board looked like this:
1st: Tony G, 9 pts.
2nd: Annie Duke, 5 pts.
3rd: Marcel Luske, 3 pts.
4th: Phil Hellmuth, 2 pts.
5th: David Ulliott, 1 pt.
6th: Juha Helppi, 0 pts.
Heat 2 saw Andy Black exit first, when Roland de Wolfe check-raised with after a flop and Black called with . The turn came the , and Black was still ahead with his pair of nines, but the on the river gave de Wolfe the flush and busted Black with zero points. Vicky Coren exited next when she moved all in over the top of Eddy Scharf's preflop raise, with to Scharf's . The board ran out , and Coren was out in fifth.
After a long period of four-handed play, Ian Frazer ran his short stack into Eddy Scharf's aces while holding . The board brought no help for Frazer, and he was eliminated. Scharf was next to fall, just a few hands later, when he ran into Alex Kravchenko's . Scharf picked up a flush draw when the board read , but the on the river gave Kravchenko a full house as Scharf made his flush, and Scharf was eliminated in third.
de Wolfe and Kravchenko battled back and forth for quite a while before all the money went in on the final hand. De Wolfe moved all in preflop with , and Kravchenko called with . The board came down , and de Wolfe's jacks up secured his win in Heat #2.
At the end of Day 1, the leader board for the PartyPoker Premier League stands as follows:
Tony G, Roland de Wolfe: 9 pts
Alex Kravchenko, Annie Duke: 5 pts
Marcel Luske, Eddy Scharf: 3 pts
Phil Hellmuth, Ian Frazer: 2 pts
Vicky Coren, David Ulliott: 1 pt
Andy Black, Juha Helppi: 0 pts