NAPT Venetian: Day 1, levels 7 and 8 (400-800-100)

napt-thumb.jpg9:19pm: Day 1 concludes
The last hands of Level 8 have been dealt, and the bagging has begun. Looks like approximately 510 players remain from our starting field of 872.

In the late breaking news department, Erica Schoenberg and Eric Baldwin both busted right near the end of the evening. And with a late rush to lead the Team PokerStars charge, Chris Moneymaker ends the day with a gaudy stack of 207,300.

Finally, in our search to identify an overnight chip leader, we have landed a strong suspect: Andy Seth with 245,600.

9:03pm: What's your hurry?
Strange situation on Table #56 just now. A three-way all-in. Board 7♦3♠Q♠J♦8♣. Player with J♠J♣ very happy. Player with [10s][10c] less so, but still with chips. And the guy with J♦9♥ -- who had also had a few left over when all was said and done -- well, he was nowhere to be found. Not realizing he was still alive, he'd already left the scene.

His stack may survive the night without him, as we are looking at just ten minutes of play remaining.

8:43pm: Chen up
Blinds and antes meant 2,100 was in the middle when a player UTG raised to 1,800. Dennis Phillips, sitting to his left, called, as did one other player. Friend of PokerStars Bill Chen then picked up his remaining chips and set them down with a thump before him, putting himself all in for 19,400.

All folded, including the original raiser and Phillips, and the action was on the remaining player. "Might be priced in here," he said, scratching his head. His opponent, co-author of The Mathematics of Poker, probably could've helped him with that problem, but he kept mum.

Finally he called, showing Q♦J♦ to Chen's [10h][10c]. The board came 9♠7♦2♥A♦6♣, and Chen survives, more than doubling to about 45,000.

8:38pm: GG, Gavin
He left the table laughing. It wasn't a genuine, that-was-a-funny-incident laugh, but more of a reaction to something that a person just cannot believe.

Griffin quickly told us the gory details of the hand that started with him holding only 15 big blinds. He looked down at K-Q of diamonds and raised it up, and his opponent called. When the flop came Q-10-4 with two clubs, Griffin decided to push all-in with his top pair, but the other player called with 2-3 of clubs. "And he got there, of course," said Griffin of the club flush that appeared to eliminate him from the tournament.

After he recounted the story, the laughing stopped. It really wasn't funny to begin with anyway. GG, GG.

8:30pm: Montel lets his cards do the talking
Preflop action had created a nice-sized pot of approximately 15,000, with two players -- Montel Williams, sporting a big stack in the small blind, and his opponent in middle position -- there to see a flop of 9♠3♣K♦. Williams bet 13,300 without hesitation, and with only a little hesitation his opponent skedaddled.

Before dragging the chips, Williams wordlessly let his cards sail through the air and land upwards in the middle for all to see: A♠A♦. It's been a good day for the talk show host. He's now up over 110,000.

8:16pm: Mercier finds mercy
Just as the Level 7 ended and the color-up began, Jason Mercier found a key spot for a double-up, leaving him to charge into the last level of the night with about 40,000 in chips.

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8:05pm: Last level coming up
A short break before Level 8 to take care of our first coloring up of the event. Goodbye green (25) chips! Everyone wants bigger ones, anyhow.

When play resumes, the blinds will be 400-800 with a 100 ante. The big board shows that 590 players remain of our starting field of 872.

7:59pm: Schoenberg ships some Hinkleward
There was a mass of chips in the middle, curling around the five community cards -- 9♦5♥Q♥[10c]Q♣. Erica Schoenberg had checked, and Blair Hinkle had swiftly fired a bet of 21,200. After a couple of minutes' thought, Schoenberg pushed her cards forward to concede the hand. She now has 48,000, while Hinkle skips up over 60,000.

7:53pm: The knaves hold
Tom McEvoy isn't a showy player, but when he gets it in, it's worth watching. He just got pocket jacks in against a weak ace, held, and doubled up.

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Tom McEvoy


7:39pm: Hellmuth sent away by American Airlines
We approached as a large hand was brewing between Eric Levesque and Phil Hellmuth. The latter looked a bit anxious, as if he had a big hand and wasn't sure how to act on it. But the two were satisfied to see a 4♠ T♠ 5♥ flop. That was when the theatrics began.

Hellmuth checked, and Levesque (on the button) bet 4,500. Hellmuth began questioning his options aloud. He looked a few tables over to where Daniel Negreanu was seated and asked for his assistance, not realizing Negreanu was wearing his headphones. A fan saw the antics and went over to Negreanu to deliver the message, at which point Negreanu walked over to Hellmuth. "What's the problem?" he asked.

Hellmuth began a short discussion of how players would have acted on certain hands in the old days, and it wasn't long before he cut himself off and declared that he was raising all-in for about 10,000 more. Levesque snap-called and flipped over two red aces, while Hellmuth showed his black queens. The dealer finished the hand with a J♦ turn and 3♦ river.

Needless to say, Hellmuth was not quiet or happy, but he was required to pack his things and leave the table.

7:30pm: For the Nguyen
With about 8,000 in the middle and the board showing J♦2♣J♥, Scotty Nguyen bet 6,400 from early position and Vanessa Rousso made the call from a couple of seats away. The turn brought the 5♥, and a quick bet of 15,500 from Nguyen. Rousso went deep into the tank, stealing looks at the expressionless Nguyen at the end of the table. Finally Rousso let it go.

"I have a good hand," said Nguyen, pushing his cards forward, then pointing at the cards, inviting Rousso to turn them over. She did, showing Nguyen had had Q♦Q♥. "Good bet," said Rousso with a nod.

Nguyen is up to about 90,000 now, while Rousso has 80,000.

7:14pm: Back in action
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 640 players remain out of the 872 who started the event. Among some of the more recognizable names with big stacks: Greg Raymer, Barry Greenstein, and Daniel Negreanu.

7:00pm: Playing for their dinner
With two levels left to play tonight, the players are on their way back. If they survive, they can go eat their dinner with the knowledge they have something to play for tomorrow.

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NAPT Venetian reporting comes courtesy of bloggers Martin Harris, Jennifer Newell, Brad Willis and photographer Joe Giron.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in North American Poker Tour