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Day One at the Mirage Poker Showdown Championship

Stacked Tables, Thick With Professional Talent, Define the Field

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People throughout the poker industry have whispered about a possible stagnation in the growth of tournament fields due to the climate surrounding online poker. This may help explain the small number of entrants in the $10,000 no-limit hold'em championship event at the World Poker Tour's Mirage Poker Showdown. The fact that 309 players started the day may cause some to say that the sky is falling, but what it really did on Saturday, May 19, was provide a professional-rich field that played some impressive poker.

By just looking around the tournament floor prior to play, you could tell that the Mirage Poker Showdown would put on a show, and it didn't disappoint. Some of the toughest tables assembled since the $50,000 World Series of Poker H.O.R.S.E. event last summer took their seats and action got under way at noon. There were over a dozen tables of note, but one table rose to the top. At the start of day one, David Singer, Evelyn Ng, Chip Reese, and Kirk Morrison were seated together at table 43. An hour into play, two Internet wonder kids, who have been tearing up the tournament trail these past few months, were added when Jonathan Little and Jared "The Waco Kidd" Hamby took their seats. Ng was eliminated in the afternoon, but professionals Robert Mizrachi and John "The Razor" Phan were moved in shortly after to take her place. Throw in an amateur in seat No. 4 who played solid poker and refused to back down from the seven pros seated with him, and you have all the ingredients for a featured table.

One of these seven professionals was on the brink of history, but he now had a major roadblock. Kirk Morrison had cashed in the previous four WPT events, which tied him with his good friend Daniel Negreanu for the all-time record. A cash in the Mirage Poker Showdown would give him the record. "It's a tough table, but, I play for blood, baby," said a joking Morrison as he chuckled through a break-time interview. His quest took two early hits when he picked up kings twice in the first five hands and lost with them both times. He later got involved in a hand with Reese. On a board of 9 7 5 7 2 Reese bet $4,000 and Morrison made the call. Reese showed 7 7 for quads and Morrison mucked his hand and was severely short-stacked. Morrison then doubled up a few times to make a resurgent push towards day two, but the record was not fated to be broken yet. Morrison was eliminated in the late stages of level five.

While the fortunes of some rose, Negreanu, J.C. Tran, Michael Mizrachi, Huck Seed, Freddy Deeb, Jennifer Harman, Dan Harrington, Scott Fischman, James Van Alstyne, and Chau Giang were all sent to the rail. But the chip stacks of Daniel Alaei, Shannon Shorr, Darrel "Gigabet" Dicken, and Davidson Matthew climbed towards the $100,000 mark in the late stages of the day. Fate would have it that Shorr and Dicken were reseated right next to each other. Second-place chip stack Alaei was seated at a table with James Van Alstyne and David "The Dragon" Pham, who are second and third, respectively, in the Card Player Player of the Year race, where they were also joined by Kathy Liebert and Eli Elezra.

At the end of the night the players began to bag up their chips and many were eager to venture into the Saturday night playground that is Las Vegas. One hand continued past the 90 minutes of level five, though. On a board of A A K 6 10, Mark Seif bet $20,000.

With $33,000 already in the pot, Anthony Newman made the call and Seif turned over pocket tens. Newman flipped over A 6, to which Seif could only blurt out, "So sick!" The full house over full house finale allowed Newman to sneak into the century club with Jeff Blenkman, Geoffrey Sanford, Alaei, Matthew, Dicken, and Shorr. Matthew was the chip leader of this top group, and all of day one with $156,625. Alaei was close at his heels, though, with $141,125. "I was just playing it one hand at a time," said Alaei of his productive day in a field full of fellow sharks.

Action starts at noon today (Sunday) and CardPlayer.com will be there to catch all the live updates, chip counts, tournament photos, and videos as the 144 remaining players battle for the $1,066,295 first-place prize.

 
 
 
 

Comments

MtMike
over 14 years ago

Tournament Poker is dying. Tournaments "killed" poker twenty years ago and is putting the end to poker now.

The cash pool of poker can not fade the "rake" of tournaments.

While the ocean of players was large this time around, the poker world can not fade the "house drop".

What players are left in tournaments, is the same "action junkies" borrowing from each other and putting each other in. Same names - soon to be broke.

 
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seamarfan269
over 14 years ago

Interesting thoughts Mike S. However, if it weren't for tournement poker, a guy named Moneymaker turning $40 into $2.5M, and ESPN/Travel Channel-- then those juicy cash games that you enjoy like EVERY single day in dang near EVERY single casino (not the case a few years ago) wouldn't exist. Don't worry about the poker economy drying up, won't happen. There will always be new fish introducing new money into the poker world. The UIGEA has only left a small bruise on poker, poker will come back with a knockout punch with a carve-out to that bill or (worse) regulation/taxation. I say "worse" because when you start taxing winnings on poker you are gonna take players that break-even becoming losing players, and players that are barely eeking out a profit breaking even, and if you're just breaking even or losing and you are playing for profit not pleasure than why play? But I digress.... have a nice day....:)

 
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shaneo19
over 14 years ago

Didn't the last big tournament (WPT Championship) have the most entrants it ever had? Just a thought for people that think one smaller than usual turnout means poker is dead.

 
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MtMike
over 14 years ago

The repliers must be NEW to poker. I have played poker in Las Vegas for 30 years. I play the 10/20 blind No Limit in the Bellagio on a regular (almost daily) basis.

Ask the card room employees. There are too many rooms, not enough customers, and the cash games are drying up. As is mentioned, the poker community can not fade the house rake and taxes on tournament winnings.

Europe's currency is worth twice what the US Dollar is.
The exchange rate is keeping the major tournament entries up, for awhile. (like the WPT Championship recently concluded at the Bellagio). I have never seen so many young players from across the pond.

 
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starfish07
over 14 years ago

Tournament Poker is dying? Today at Borgata in AC, 757 players plunked down $1,100 to play in a 250K Guaranteed tournament. 200 more players got shut out as the event sold out. First place was over $210,000. That doesn't sound like dying to me.

 
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Jsagan77
over 14 years ago

Internet poker and home games with terrible players may be a reason why the casino's aren't getting as much play either. Just a thought.

 
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