NAPT LA: Watch out, the Canadians are coming!
by Pat Pezzin
I just landed in Los Angeles and I am really looking forward to be playing the NAPT LA Main Event at the Bike. It will be my first live event since busting the WSOP Main Event on Day 3 back in July. Despite the dry spell of recent live tournament play, I've been playing a large number of multi-table tournaments (MTTs) online at PokerStars. The WCOOP was at the height of the online MTTs during this stretch. Though I did not walk away with a bracelet as hoped, I still had a reasonable eight cashes with the best being a 7th-place finish in the 10k High-Roller 8-Game Championship.
After the WCOOP, I took a few weeks off poker and drove through the gates of the Midwest in St. Louis, Missouri to play in the 2010 North America Bocce Championships. The event took place at the Italia-America Bocce Club in a wonderful part of the city called "The Hill". It is a very cozy part of St. Louis that has held on to its Italian heritage and old-world charm; every corner of The Hill abounds in Italian restaurants and cafes, pizza parlors, bakeries, delicatessens and specialty stores. Even the fire hydrants painted in the traditional Italian colours of red, white and green hold a quaint allure.
As the defending Champions representing Ontario, Canada, my team and I finished a disappointing 3rd place, with the Championship going to the state of Michigan. Many of the young bocce-players had been following the weekly ESPN coverage of the Main Event and were asking for my predictions on who would take home the nearly $9 million grand prize.
The suspense came to a culmination this week as the "November Nine" (two of whom were fellow Canadians) finished playing for the pursuit of every poker player's greatest dream. Arguably, this year was the most talented Main Event final table ever. Of course, there have been some stacked pre-Moneymaker great final tables, but I think most of those finalists would tell you, that they would give up anything if they only knew then, what they know now about the game. The game has evolved so much in the past few years that the knowledge and skill of the players and the level of play in this post- Moneymaker era, far exceeds that of the majority of players in eras bygone.
Watching the final table on ESPN this week, I was impressed by the level of play, particularly, though not exclusively by fellow Canadian Johathan Duhamel, who became the first Canadian World Series of Poker Champion in history.
As much as I was rooting for my friend "Grinder" to pull-off the greatest single season WSOP ever, it was awesome to watch Jonathan's determined route to victory. I had met Jonathan at a PokerStars dinner back in August in Toronto, and was very impressed by the young 23-year-old chip leader. He seemed very confident with the task ahead and spoke with such assurance and maturity that I just felt he would make the best of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I am confident he will be a great ambassador for the game, especially in Canada, as he is a well-spoken, down-to-earth individual, who is bilingual in Canada's both official languages. Hopefully his triumph will result in bringing an NAPT stop to a Canadian city in the near future.
Watching Jonathan take it down filled my heart with Canadian pride - but more importantly fuelled my desire to take one down. Watch-out LA, us Canadian boys may just be a force to be reckoned with!
I will be posting updates from the NAPT LA on both my Facebook Fan Page and on Twitter.
See you at the tables!