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The WPT North American Poker Championship Day 1A

The World Poker Tour Heads To Canada; 264 No Limit Hold'em Players Participate On The First Of Two Day Ones

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The World Poker Tour made a historic stop north of the border with the 2006 North American Poker Championship at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls Ontario.

A homecoming for some of the game's biggest stars, including Canadian-born pros Gavin Smith, Brad Booth, and Daniel Negreanu, the 2006 NAPC also attracted a larger-than-expected international field, prompting tournament officials to divide the action into two "first days."

At noon EDT, 264 players gathered in the casino's Grand Ballroom to participate in day 1A of the $10,000 buy-in event. Following the lead of other successful WPT tournaments like the Legends of Poker and the Borgata Poker Open, the North American Poker Championship featured a structure geared toward strategy and skill rather than blind luck.

"I love it. I love it. I love it," defending Foxwoods champ Victor Ramdin said in regard to the 90-minute levels and $20,000 starting stacks.

Play began at $25-$25 blinds and, as expected, the first level saw few eliminations. Despite the lack of action, Amnon Filippi still managed to double during early action. The New York native flopped a set of deuces, and, after moving all in, took a huge lead when Doug Lee called with two pair. The 9diamond turn and 9heart river completed a full house for Filippi, bumping his stack up to $39,000 and crippling Lee to less than $6,000.

Filippi accumulated more chips, and provided one of the first high-profile bust-outs of the NAPC, when his pocket queens held against the Adiamond Kclub of a short-stacked Joe Sebok. A number of other notable players soon followed Sebok to the rail, including Kathy Liebert, Michael Gracz, Mark "PokerHo" Kroon, and 2006 Mirage Poker Showdown champion Joe Tehan.

Upon returning from the 6 p.m. dinner break, players prepared for a long night with the announcement that day 1A would likely conclude at 2 a.m., unless the field could whittle down to 150 before midnight.

One amateur player appeared determined to see play end sooner rather than later. Sitting at table 28, the player made a habit of moving all in blind on the first four hands of each level. The strategy met with mixed reaction from fans and fellow NAPC participants, especially when the player made a full house with the 7diamond 2heart to crack an opponent's Aheart 10diamond. Dubbed "Mr. All In Blind," he exited tournament play when, believe it or not, his J-6 failed to improve against another player's A-10.

Odd play aside, several notable poker pros garnered their own attention by steadily climbing up the day 1A leader board.

John D'Agostino made a push for day two by beating pocket aces not once, but twice, in late action. In the first encounter, D'Agostino reraised all in on a Kheart 10spade 5diamond 4club board. An opponent called, showing Aspade Aclub, but D'Agostino turned over the winning hand with Kspade 4heart. On D'Agostino's second run-in with pocket aces, the Full Tilt pro bet $10,000 into an 8spade 7diamond 4club 3club board, then fired an additional $20,000 after the 5club river. An opponent in seat No. 4 folded, flipping up the Aclub Adiamond as D'Agostino dragged the pot.

Like D'Agostino, John Juanda hovered near the middle of the board for the majority of the day, but unlike Dags, Juanda's ascent proved to be a bit more dramatic. Juanda nabbed the title of day 1A chip boss, held by Kam Low and then Stephen Paul Ambrose for a time, during the last level of play when he flopped quad deuces against an opponent's pocket kings. Juanda called a $3,000 bet on the flop, raised $4,000 on the rag turn, then got his opponent to call a $60,000 bet on the rag river.

The win pushed Juanda's stack up to the $200,000 mark.

At 1:29 a.m., and with 119 players remaining, tournament officials called the action over on day 1A of the 2006 North American Poker Championship.

Some other notables moving on include Amnon Filippi, Barry Greenstein, Thomas Wahlroos, Stephen Paul Ambrose, and Liz Lieu, while pros Steve Frederick, Davidson Matthew, Allen Kessler, and J.C. Tran failed to advance.

Day 1B begins at noon, EDT.

Stay tuned to CardPlayer.com for all your live updates, chip counts, photos, and daily recaps.

Quote of the Day: "It's like two rotten, smelly men in his mouth fighting" - Amnon Filippi on the breath of an opponent at his table.