NAPT Venetian: Day 1, levels 1 and 2 (75-150)
2:10pm: Break time
After two levels of play, the massive field is taking its first break of the day.
2:02pm: Casual Cada
He looks quite intense during a hand, mouth slighly open and eyes focused on the board cards as if they could change at any moment. But there is a confidence below the surface that makes his actions seem casual and easy.
On a 3♠ 6♣ T♦ flop, there was quite a bit of action that resulted in Cada calling his opponent's raise. The Q♦ on the turn prompted both players to check. And when Cada bet the 4♥ on the river, his opponent folded in an animated fashion that made Cada look even more relaxed when he showed A♥ T♠ before raking the pot.
All in a day's work.
1:54pm: I'll CU later
Andrew "Good2CU" Robl arrived in the middle of the second level and has already made his presence known. Just now he opened with a raise to 400 from early position, and the table folded around to the big blind who called. The flop came all babies -- 2♣7♣4♠ -- and the big blind quickly checked. Robl fired out a largish bet of 2,050, sending the BB into the tank for a long while before deciding he would pick another spot to tangle.
1:51pm: Beretta. Chuck Beretta
We'll say it right now. There has never been a better name for a poker player than Chuck Beretta. You've not heard of him? No surprise. Nobody really has. He's playing here today after winning a series of freerolls. His prize was a chanc to meet WSOP champ Joe Cada and play in today's Main Event. He said he really doesn't know what he's doing. We don't believe him.
"I was just fooling around on the internet," Beretta said. "I figured, I'm 72, I'll fool around."
1:48pm: Prodigies among us
Depending on the circles in which you run, there's a good chance you know the names Jeff Sarwer and Ryan D'Angelo. D'Angelo, of course, is the young poker prodigy who won two WCOOP bracelets last year. Sarwer is a famous Canadian chess prodigy who has found success in the poker world. Today, they sit side-by-side.
1:46pm: How much did Ivey bet?
Tony Cousineau and Gavin Smith are killing time in the early levels chatting about the betting habits of their buddy Phil Ivey.
"How much did he win on the Super Bowl," Cousineau asked,
"I heard he bet a million," Cousineau said.
"Yeah, but with him you hear a lot of things," Smith said. After a pause, Smith shrugged again and said, "I bet he won though."
Meanwhile, Lisa Hamilton, last year's WSOP Ladies event champion sat quietly in the two seat raking pots, oblivious or unconcerned about Ivey's betting habits.
1:45pm: Play ball!
Orel Hershiser seems comfortable at his table, playing a slow and steady game as he usually does. But his calm demeanor shouldn't be mistaken for timidity. As we approached his table, he quietly bet out on a 3♥ 7♣ 7♦ 5♥ board, which induced an even quieter fold from his opponent.
Those newly acquired chips went to Orel, who stacked them neatly atop his glass box holding his signature baseball. The lovely autographed gift will go to any player who can eliminate him from the tournament, though if he keeps up this steady pace, that could be quite a long time from now.
1:35pm: 855 and counting
"Are you collecting your bets?" Asked Team PokerStars pro Chad Brown of fellow team member Daniel Negreanu, pointing to the board showing we are now up to 855 entrants for today's event.
"I said 850!" replied Negreanu with a grin and a nod. Sounds like our large field might have proven lucrative for Kid Poker. And for everyone else, too, for that matter, as we are now looking prize pool of around $4 million!
1:32pm: Deeb out of retirement
Although we've yet to put eyes on him, we hear that the once-retired Shaun Deeb has ended his promised retirement to play today. Welcome back, Shaun!
1:27pm: A few more faces
Okay, with a crowd this big (854 and counting) we're going to miss people on our first, second, and third passes through the room. We've just noticed James "mig.com" Mackey, actor Brad Garrett, and LAPT Playa Conchal champion Amer Sulaiman.
1:22pm: Level up
Players are now working with 75-150 blinds.
1:14pm: Good start for Liebert
Kathy Liebert has already accumulated some chips here in the early going. She claimed a bunch just now in a hand after having made a set with pocket eights she successfully got an opponent with A-K top pair-top kicker to relinquish a big part of his stack.
1:05pm: Faces in the Crowd
Making a full circuit of the nearly 90 tables, spread across several rooms, takes a while, but we've managed the journey a couple of times and have seen a number of familiar faces along the way.
Among those we've spotted thus far are William Reynolds, Kevin Schaffel, Shane Schleger, Joe Serock, Adam Junglen, Hevad Khan, Vanessa Rousso, Andrew Lichtenberger, Jason Mercier, Shawn Glines, Dan Shak, Burt Boutin, Andreas Hoivold, Fabrice Soulier, Ryan D'Angelo, Jordan Morgan, Yvegeniv Timoshenko, Scotty Nguyen, Maria Ho, David Benyamine, and Darus Suharto.
1:02pm: Duthie wants no part of the controversy
The first level took a frustrating turn (and river) for John Duthie.
Action started in a hand with an opponent that saw each player commit 2,100 to see a A♥ T♦ 4♠ flop. Duthie bet 3,100, and his opponent check-called. After the J♦ turn card was dealth, again Duthie bet out, and the other player check-called. But when the river produced a Q♠, the player led out by pushing all-in for 5,100, which sent Duthie into the tank. He considered the options. He looked at his opponent. He turned around in his chair and contemplated the room. He even groaned.
During this thought process, he had 4,000 worth of chips in his hand, and just before he decided to fold, he accidentally dropped the chips into the middle of the table. Duthie's opponent charged that those chips now belonged to him, despite Duthie's fold, and the floor person was immediately called.
The dealer calmly explained the action as Duthie kept repeating, "Take the chips. Take them." Finally, the ruling was made that those 4,000 chips belonged to Duthie's opponent, though the rest of the table wondered aloud if it should not count as a complete call and warrant a showdown. The floor person said no, and the ruling was final that 4,000 extra went to the other player. While the rest of the table continued to debate the ruling amongst themselves, Duthie seemed to be replaying that hand in his head...over and over.
12:51pm: Fossils, Pearls, Chips, Jacks
Greg "Fossilman" Raymer and Jon "PearlJammer" Turner had built a modest-sized pot when the last community card was dealt, making for a board of 4♦3♠J♦J♣[10d]. Raymer, acting first, fired a small bet prompting a quick fold from Turner. The Fossilman showed his J♠J♥ for quads as he dragged the pot.
"I was hoping you had a flush there," said Raymer, alluding to the third diamond appearing on the end. Raymer added that if Turner had made a flush, he would've liked some sort of push back after his small river bet. "I wouldn't have raised with a flush," Turner smiled. Neither is too far removed from their starting stacks of 30,000 as we approach the end of level 1.
12:40pm: Wheels down for Barry
We've just been informed that the Barry has landed. Barry Greenstein's flight from L.A. just got him here. He's in action.
12:29pm: Settling in
The first minutes of a tournament are always hectic, as players search for their seats, get comfortable, fill out media release forms, and begin the process of sizing up their opponents. Meanwhile, family, friends, and poker fans secure their spots along the rail to see as much action as possible. And as all of this happens, the buzz eventually dies down, and serious faces and the sound of riffling chips takes over.
Joe Cada is settling in with breakfast in hand. Gavin Griffin is looking at the big picture, hoping to become the first player ever to win a WSOP bracelet, EPT tournament, WPT title, and NAPT event. He tweeted, "Here's to being the first ever quad crown winner!" And more than a few players are on airplanes from Los Angeles right now to get in on the action.
We have a massive poker tournament in progress.
12:26pm: 833 and counting
We've just received word that the field has swollen to 833 players. While there is only room for 890 players, alternates will be accepted for the first four hours today. We've also heard Barry Greenstein is on a plane from L.A. right now and should be arriving in time to play. This is going to get big.
12:17pm: Danny doubles, and fast!
These words from Daniel Negreanu's Twitter account just now: "Ding ding ding double up on hand 3 to 60k! KJ7 flop turn 3. I had JJ other guy had K3 wow."
12:16pm: Alexander all business, play underway
Seinfeld star Jason Alexander had the "shuffle up and deal" honors today, and he clearly took the responsibility seriously. "Welcome, players," he began, and after a few preliminary comments got right down to business.
"I'm not going to waste a lot of time here. I hate when people do that. They just go on and on and on and on and yadda yadda yadda and won't stop and I'm not going to have any part of that...."
Amid the grins, George finally found an end to that sentence. "Flushes beat straights," he reminded all. "Shuffle up and deal!"
12:03pm: Getting ready
The dealers are at the ready, the players are wandering among more than 80 tables trying to find their seats. In a matter of minutes we're expecting to hear "Shuffle up and deal."
11:55am: Day 1 about to begin
Players are filing in and taking their seats. They'll be starting with 30,000 in chips and playing hour-long levels. We're here and ready to report.
NAPT Venetian reporting comes courtesy of bloggers Martin Harris, Jennifer Newell, Brad Willis and photographer Joe Giron.