NAPT Los Angeles Bounty Shootout: Nine survive shootout in Compton
The jokes had been floating around the NAPT Los Angeles Main Event for days. Added to the schedule at the eleventh hour, the Bounty Shootout would be held at the Crystal Casino, a Los Angeles-area gaming establishment located 15 miles south of downtown in the city of Compton. Some folks were begging for T-shirts that said "I Survived the Shootout in Compton." Most were just trying to get a seat. The 81 spots sold out in short order and a substantial waiting list formed. And with the Main Event still in full swing as the final 19 played down to eight, at least three names came off that list with Michael Binger, Anh Van Nguyen and Jason Mercier making that final table. Mercier would be unable to defend his title, having won the last Bounty Shootout at the NAPT Mohegan Sun back in April, but we have a feeling he wasn't too broken up about that with the Main Event first-place prize firmly in his crosshairs.
It was a marathon day inside the Crystal, the first of the two Round 1 flights taking off at 11 am and the second finally wrapping up at around 2:45 the next morning when the field was finally reduced to nine. Each $5,000 buy-in was divided 80/20; $4,000 went into the main prize pool and $1,000 a bounty for their eventual assassin. Each player received a personalized bounty chip emblazoned with their own photo. Everyone wanted to keep those buttons, not only to preserve their own tournament life, but to display on their mantlepieces or perhaps auction off on eBay. ESPN's cameras were also there to capture the action and the finished product will air sometime in December.
Three of this year's November Nine took their shot today, and while Joseph Cheong and Jason Senti made early exits from their respective tables, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi was the first to put away his eight opponents. Mizrachi collected four bounties en route to his table win, eliminating Shannon Shorr, Jon Aguiar, Vanessa Selbst and Chance Kornuth.
Next to stamp his ticket to the final table was a man who has already enjoyed the fruits of an NAPT title. Under the lights of ESPN's featured table, Venetian Main Event champion Tom Marchese defeated Ronnie Bardah heads-up to bring his bounty total to four after eliminating Annette Obrestad, Andrew Robl and Dan Shak.
Although Justin Young has five WSOP cashes and nearly $200,000 in live tournament earnings on his resume, he's still looking to claim his first major title. Perhaps this is his time, as he took out Mohegan Sun BSO runner-up Sam Stein, original November Niner Scott Montgomery and the man who regularly challenges Phil Ivey for the most intense stare in poker, Scott Clements, en route to his table win.
Young's elimination left two heads-up tables in play, one featuring good pals Eric "basebaldy" Baldwin and Antonio Esfandiari, the other occupied by online MTT whiz Clint Coffee and Justin Bonomo. Baldwin collected the last of Esfandiari's chips when he turned the nut straight, Esfandiari catching a river ace that improved his hand enough to call Baldwin's shove. Along with the $20,000 he earned for his table win, Baldwin collected two bounties (that other one has Chad Brown's face on it).
The Bonomo-Coffee match was the last to conclude, Coffee's pocket tens holding up against Bonomo's pocket eights to give him a spot at the final table
After a short break, the 36 players in Flight B filed in, Team Pros Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Vanessa Selbst, Chris Moneymaker, Pat Pezzin, David Williams, Victor Ramdin, Chad Brown, Nacho Barbero and Liv Boeree among them. All but two of them would fall by night's end.
Kevin MacPhee (who survived a shootout with real bullets at this year's EPT Berlin and went on to win the event for more than $1.3 million) was the first player of Flight B to finish off his table. Nick Binger ran his pocket fives into MacPhee's pocket kings and the man known as "ImaLucSac" earned his third bounty of the day after eliminating Ben Lamb and Shaun Deeb.
Following MacPhee's win, three heads-up matches continued on the outer tables. It was Team Pro vs. Team Pro in the lengthy, deliberate heads-up match between Nacho Barbero, and David Williams, the latter winning the final coinflip when his pocket fours rivered a flush against Barbero's top two pair aces and nines.
Pat Pezzin had a huge chip disadvantage as his table turned three-handed, holding 18,000 against Brett Richey's 85,000 and Phil Laak's 121,000. Pezzin, however remained exceptionally patient and ground his short stack up, his key hand coming against Richey in their heads-up match. The flop that brought Richey two pair gave Pezzin the nut straight and he took a commanding chip lead, finishing Richey off a few hands later.
The heads-up battle between Michael Pesek and Moshin Charania lasted well into the wee hours, the chip lead flip-flopping with nearly every hand. With many eyes in the room growing heavy, their match finally concluded at just past 2:30 am, Charania's A♠8♠ holding up against Pesek's Q♣9♣. Charania collected four bounties in total, eliminating Victor Ramdin, Hasan Habib, and Dan Woodward in addition to Pesek.
Our final nine gunslingers will return to the Crystal Casino tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. The last man standing will collect the $134,280 balance of the prize pool while the rest will depart only with their Round 1 winnings. We'll be there with wire-to-wire coverage and do hope you'll join us again.
For a look back at any of the action you might have missed, click on any of the links below.
Complete first-round results can be found on the NAPT Los Angeles Bounty Shootout Round 1 results page.
All photography by the incomparable Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography. He gets one of these, too (©). We'd also like to send a shout-out to Paul "Dr. Pauly" McGuire for throwing this solo scribbling act a major assist with his additional reporting.