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North American Poker Championship Day One (B)

Steve Buckner Almost as Loud as the Falls on Day One (B) - Almost

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Niagara Falls is a breath-taking display of power. The water of the Niagara River rushes from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and inescapably speeds up as it approaches the chaotic plunge. Niagara Falls is a force of Mother Nature. There was also another force of nature on display at day one (B) of the World Poker Tour North American Poker Championship. His name is Steve Buckner, and he is a force of human nature. His penchant for one-liners and gift for gab rumbled along as consistently as the falls rumbled close by throughout the day. "Buckle your buckets because it is time for a ride," said Buckner at one point of the day. While nothing is able to quiet the falls, Buckner was quiet for one period of the day (more on that later), and he was ultimately silent by the end of the play.

Play started at noon, and 169 players took their seats for the second day one of the tournament. Although there was a fair amount of professionals, most of the pros seem to be waiting for tomorrow to ante up their $10,000. There was one table at the start of play that did act as a professional-poker-player-magnet:

Table No. 7:

Seat No. 6 - Shane Schleger
Seat No. 7 - Thayer Rasmussen
Seat No. 8 - Vanessa Rousso
Seat No. 9 - Sorel Mizzi

This was the highest concentration of professional players on day one (B), although one of them would soon make an exit. Rousso was the first player of the day to be eliminated, and it was Schleger who dropped the hammer. Other players to make early exits and join her on the rail included: Alan Goehring, Haralabos Voulgaris, the leader of the 2007 Player of the Year race David "The Dragon" Pham, Tom Schneider, Freddy Deeb, and Chad Brown.

Strict Canadian gaming regulations also created an interesting predicament for one player early on day one (B). After the first break, Mario "pwnasaurus" Silvestri attempted to rejoin the rest of the field and continue with level two. Unfortunately for the young online player, he wasn't allowed to play because he had misplaced his casino identification badge. Every player in the NAPC was given a lanyard and badge with an identification number. Without the badge, players could not enter the tournament floor, and Silversti did not have his badge. He was blinded off for nearly 35 minutes before he returned with it in tow. Apparently, Silvestri left the badge in his room and had to walk all the way back to his hotel to retrieve the I.D. Silvestri only needed the badge for a little while longer, as he was eliminated from the tournament about two hours later.

Jeremiah Smith on day 1bAs the dinner break approached, Jeremiah Smith emerged as the chip leader. He consistently won small pots throughout the day and his chip stack confirmed as much by the large number of small denomination chips he possessed. A chip stack can often be representative of a player's strategy, and while Smith's stack had a lot of small chips, it was in sharp contrast to the chip stack of Marc Karam. Karam plays large pots, and he possessed many large denomination chips when he took the chip lead over from Smith after the dinner break (they were seated at the same table at the time): On a board of A 10 4, with 40,000 in the pot, Karam was all in for 21,050. His opponent thought for a few minutes and then called with A K. Karam turned over 6 4 and the turn and river came K and Q to double him up to 83,000. Big-pot poker is volatile poker, though, and Karam quickly lost the chip lead. Another player seated at the table with Smith and Karam during this stretch was none other than Buckner.

Buckner was also near the top of the leader board at this point in the tournament, and his mouth was moving as fast as his chips. This got him into a little bit of trouble when he was hit with a one-rotation penalty for using profanity by Tournament Director Jason March. The ghost of Buckner hovered in the room while he sat it out at the rail and game three of the World Series played on every monitor in the room. March, who is a lifelong fan of the Boston Red Sox, may have regretted his decision to give a penalty to a man named "Buckner" while the Sox were in the World Series, though.

Everything was going great for the Red Sox; they led the Series 2-0, and were up 6-0 against the Colorado Rockies at the time. But ... the Red Sox were also on the verge of winning the World Series in 1986, before a wild pitch and a ball between the legs of another man named Buckner capped a New York Mets rally to force a seventh game - which the Red Sox lost, exactly 21 years ago today. Could the curse of Buckner rise again?

As far as the World Series went … not so much, the Sox won game three by a score of 10-5 and the only person who came out of the predicament with any signs of a curse was Buckner. He sat out the remainder of the penalty and was quiet when he returned, both verbally and with his chips. "I haven't played a hand since I got back," said Buckner. His stack began to dwindle and Buckner was knocked down to 23,500 after an opponent doubled up through him. The end was near. "I can't win a hand, Cuz," said Buckner repeatedly, to no one in particular. The final blow was dealt by Allen Kessler (who finished the day with 69,700). Kessler had Buckner dominated with A-K against A-5, and Buckner made his exit from the tournament when no help came on the board. Other players that were sent to the rail during the late part of day one (B) included: John Juanda, Theo Tran, Mizzi, Jim "Krazy Kanuck" Worth, Nenad Medic, and Justin Bonomo.

Shortly after midnight, the tournament clock reached 30 minutes remaining in the seventh level, and play was stopped to match exactly the amount of time played on day one (A). The 78 players who remained bagged up their chips and they will return for day two, on Monday, Oct. 29. Karam continued to play big-pot poker and the rollercoaster ride left him at the top of the leader board by the end of the day. Here is a look at the top five at the end of the night, as well as a number of the notables remaining:

Marc Karam - 126,600Marc Karam on day 1b
Jeff Kostrnuik - 125,900
Jordan Morgan - 124,500
Jeff "ActionJeff" Garza - 111,300
Aran Jamasi - 102,200

Lee Markholt - 71,100
Jeremiah Smith - 71,000
Allen Kessler - 69,700
Kathy Liebert - 58,000
Daniel Shak - 50,500
Marcello Del Grosso - 38,300
Shane Schleger - 35,500
Jeff Madsen - 21,500
Soren Turkewitsch - 20,500 (2006 NAPC Champion)

Soren Turkewitsch on day 1b

Day one (C) will begin tomorrow at noon, and the final set of players will start their quest to win the 2007 NAPC title. Many professionals have been spotted along the rail during the first two days of play, including Daniel Negreanu, J.C. Tran, and Nam Le. Catch all the action featuring these players and many more tomorrow, including live updates, chip counts, and photos on CardPlayer.com.