NAPT Los Angeles: Grippo squeezing chip lead on Day 1a
It's a well-worn story that has the starry-eyed optimist make his or her way across the western United States to a city that can turn simple copywriters into the world's biggest stars. It is, too, a long-told tale that has those hopefuls doing little more than turning into the city's best baristas.
The story that's not yet been told as many times is how leather-tailed poker players from places like Chicago, Illinois can come to this western poker oasis and find a way to top a poker tournament that could award life-changing money.
Today began the last event of the 2010 North American Poker Tour, a circuit that's wound from the Bahamas, to Las Vegas, to Connecticut, and finally the land under Los Angeles' sun. Day 1A of NAPT Los Angeles welcomed 330 players to The Bicycle Casino, a sizable field that will most likely be eclipsed on Day 1B. If predictions hold, this could easily best the size of the field from the Mohegan Sun event.
When today ended, approximately 162 remained. On top of the list of those fortunate few is Nicholas Grippo, the man who went on a late-evening tear and finished on 235,100. In place to run down the chip leader on Day 2 are Tom Middleton (229,100) and Scott Fischman (224, 600).
It was a bloody day for Team PokerStars Pro. The early levels scatter-shot the Team Pro ranks in such brutal fashion, one wondered if there would be any left standing to hold up the PokerStars flag. One by one, Barry Greenstein, Greg Raymer, Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boeree, Pat Pezzin, and Richard Toth fell off the chip count page. They were only survived by Chris Moneymaker (75,500), Chad Brown (57,500), and the birthday-celebrating Jason Mercier who finished with 173,200 candles on his cake. Team Online's George Lind also bagged up 79,700.
Day 1B will pick up at 1pm on Saturday, an afternoon that is sure to see a lot of local weekend warriors make their way to Bell Gardens for a day in this giant cardroom. When it's all said and done, we're looking at a prize pool that will almost certainly top $3 million.
We'll be putting up full chip counts on our NAPT chip count page after we receive them from the tournament staff. Join us back here for all-day and all-night live reports from the floor of The Bicycle Casino.
See you then.
For a look back at how Day 1A went minute-by-minute, see any of the links below.
All photography © Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography