Monday, March 07, 2005

You Are My Shooting Star

I know, cheesy title from a cheesy song but I couldn't resist.

Today was day one of the first round of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Tournament. For those who live under a rock or don't get the travel channel, this tourny is unique in that certain players (pros or celebrities) have a $5000 bounty on their heads. Knock out a shooting star and they pay you $5000 in cash, at the table, plus give you a t-shirt that says "I knocked out (name of star)". The shooting star also autographs the shirt and does a picture with the winner.

I arrived at Bay 101 about 30 minutes before the start of the tournament. The inside of this facility isn't all that impressive. It could use some new carpeting and new poker tables as well as some paint on the dingy white walls. What was impressive was that I started to recognize people as soon as I walked in. Some I knew by name, like Mel Judah, and others I knew their face from some poker tourny on TV but I couldn't tell you anything more about them. It was a bit surreal to see all these famous faces around me.

This next paragraph is for the ladies, especially April from Not a Poker Blog. Men can feel free to skip ahead to the tourny action in the paragraph following.

I saw Phil Gordon about thirty seconds after I walked in the door. He was chatting with a lady at the International Poker Association booth. I must say that TV does not do this man justice. He was dressed in black from head to foot while wearing a black leather jacket and sunglasses sitting atop his head. Later he would remove the jacket to reveal his Full Tilt shirt and add headphones to drown out distractions. I stood near him a few times but didn't approach him or speak to him. There just didn't seem to be an appropriate time. In the few times he wasn't at his table he was engaged in conversations or signing autographs. It was still cool to see him and I managed to find spots on the rail where I could keep an eye on him.

I found a spot on the rails near tables 17 through 20. Shooting Stars I could see from this location included Dan Harrington, Tom McEvoy, Scotty Nguyen, Chip Jett, and Phil Gordon. I never really found a location where I could actually see the action but every time a Shooting Star was all-in Matt Savage and a camera crew would run to the table and call the action.

Levels are 60 minutes and they are playing 8 1/2 levels today.

Level 1: Blinds 25/50, 200 players
  • Kathy Liebert was the first shooting star to go all-in with 10, 6. I believe she won with a pair of tens.

Level 2: Blinds 50/100, still 200 players
  • Scotty Nguyen all-in with KK vs. QQ and Scotty doubles up.
  • Layne Flack (a.k.a. Mr. All-in) goes all-in for the first time. His 7,5 wins against 7,8.

Break 1: Players race for the bathrooms or outside for a smoke. I stay where I am because it's one of the better spots. Kathy Liebert is interviewed to my left and Layne Flack comes over to chat with Chip Jett.

Level 3: Blinds 100/200, 199 players
  • Gus Hansen, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, and Carlos Mortensen arrive from the airport. I believe all played in the Heads-up tourny in Vegas yesterday and I know Chris made the final and finished around 2 a.m. so I wasn't surprised to see them arrive late.
  • Mimi Tran becomes the first shooting star to get knocked out.
  • Phil Gordon, who was short-stacked, went all in with AK vs. AQ. His kicker holds up.
  • Phil Hellmuth showed up at this point for interviews and bragging (he won the heads-up tourny). He doesn't actually play until tomorrow.
  • Layne Flack goes all-in 3 times during this level and gets lucky every time.
  • Gus Hansen goes all-in with QQ vs. AQ, no aces fall and he doubles up.
  • The shocker of this round is when Carlos Mortensen goes all-in with 66 vs. KK. The Kings hold and Carlos is out after playing only 4 hands.

Level 4: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25, 182 players

  • Dan Harrington goes all in against Erik Seidel, who had Dan covered. 33 vs. 8, 6 off. Dan's 3's double him up.
  • Antonio Esfandiari goes all in on a big pot, gets called by the chip leader and flips over the nut flush.
  • At this point some tables have broken up and Chris Ferguson is now seated with Gus Hansen and Dan Harrington.
  • Scotty Nguyen's AA holds up against AJ and it's rumored he is in the chip lead.
  • Layne Flack goes all-in 2 more times but his luck finally dies and he is eliminated.
  • About 5 minutes later Dan Harrington and Chris Ferguson are all-in with Chris covering Dan. I didn't catch what the hands were but Dan was eliminated.
Break 2: I walked to my car to ditch my purse. I had eaten a nice lunch at the Bay 101 deli and didn't need my money anymore. I caught Phil Gordon signing some autographs and then it was time for more play. Oh, and note to self, boots are only comfortable for about 2 hours of standing.

Level 5: Blinds 150/300 Ante 50 151 players left.
  • Barry Greenstein doubles up against the guy that took out Layne Flack.
  • Gus goes all in with 2's and triples his stack.
  • Gus all in again with 88 vs. AK suited and wins again.
  • Barry Greenstein all-in with AQ and a flopped straight.
  • Freddy Deeb eliminated when his AK doesn't hold against Q, 10 of hearts.
Level 6: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50, 129 players left
  • Scotty Nguyen moved briefly to Gus's table. They get in a hand and Gus's AQ beats Scotty's AK. Definitely a hit to Scotty but he is still alive.
  • Kathy Liebert eliminated in a 3-way pot. Guy with KK wins.
  • Gus and Chris Ferguson's table is broken. Gus moves to Tom McEnvoy's table while Chris is now sitting with Phil Gordon.
Dinner break and I head home. They still have 2 1/2 levels to play but my feet are killing me. Plus it was getting really crowded. I have no idea what the chip count is or how many people are left. I'll try to find some information on this later and do a little update to this post.

I also wanted to let you all know how Max Pescatori was fairing. He was made a shooting star to fill in for someone who wasn't going to make it and I think he went out right before the dinner break but I am not sure on that. If you have comfirmation please leave a comment.

Tomorrow I will only be able to get over to Bay 101 for a couple of hours in the afternoon but I promise a short write-up after I get home from class. UPDATE: Phil Gordon was eliminated in 90th. His set of 4's beat by a set of 9's. Randy Jensen had the chip lead at the last update and Sammy Farha was also in good shape. For more updates check out Matt Savage's site.

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