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PartyPoker.com Million V - Day 1a

Half the Field Get Their Sea Legs

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Let's take a cruise together.

I'm your cruise director, Scott. Please join me, my mother, my sister , my girlfriend and 530 poker players on Holland America's MS Westerdam for a Caribbean Cruise and the PartyPoker.com Million V.

The gangplank went up at 4:00 p.m. on March 12th, as the Westerdam set sail for Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Some of the passengers on this luxury cruise liner were still without seats to the main event as late as last night, so satellite play and some good old fashioned rail bird begging were the biggest events of night one.

With all of the entrants in, the largest limit hold'em tournament in the world got underway at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time today, March 13th. Day 1a began with 265 players all with starting stacks of $10,000 in tournament chips. Blinds were $50-$100 with limits of $100-$200 when the cards went in the air.

The notables on day one included Dan Alspach, Dustin "Neverwin" Woolf, Paul Darden, Mark Gregorich, Chris Hinchcliffe, Karina Jett, Kenna James, Aaron Kanter, David Levy, Victor Ramdin, Joe Sebok, Barry Shulman, and Allyn Shulman.

All 265 players made it past the first three levels, as the nature of limit hold'em generally equates to a slow start, but a domino effect of eliminations as the blinds increase.

"The Truth" Hurts

Uncomfortable may be the best way to describe Paul Darden's experience on day 1a. Not only were the cards rubbing Darden the wrong way, he was physically uncomfortable in his chair. Of course, world class hospitality is one of the great things about attending a poker tournament aboard a floating hotel, spa, casino, gourmet restaurant, nightclub etc, and Darden felt it when his tournament dealer gave up his seat cushion as soon as Darden expressed his discomfort.

Unfortunately for Darden, the temporary relief offered by the donated seat cushion did nothing to cure a cold deck.

Darden's 5th place finish at last year's PartyPoker Million netted him $300,000, and surely made him one of the favorites heading into an event somewhat depleted of world class talent. However, a tag team combination of poker pro Ted Lawson and qualifier Charlie McCrink was enough to do in "The Truth." Darden was the first player eliminated.

Half of the Shulman Crew Can't Do Anything Right

Card Player Media C.E.O. Barry Shulman had a rough day as well. He followed on Darden's heels, carrying the distinction of the second player eliminated from the tournament.

When asked about his misfortune Shulman commented, "I had 87 pairs. Lost with everyone of them."

Continuing his lament, Shulman commented on his inability to even be the first loser. "I can't do anything right," Shulman said.

Meanwhile, his wife Allyn Shulman got off to a fast start and leveled off in the middle of the day. She survived to day two, and will return on Wednesday with $12,000 in chips.

"Neverwin" is Only A Clever Nickname

Dustin "Neverwin" Woolf may have a clever nickname, but he's hardly fooling anyone with it now. Woolf is a well-known high stakes limit cash game player on the internet, and it seems he has no problem taking his skills from the virtual realm to the floating felt.

In arguably the toughest table draw of the tournament Woolf was seated at the same table as Todd Witteles. Witteles is the owner of a World Series of Poker gold bracelet in limit hold'em, and also plays high stakes limit hold'em online under the handle DanDruff. Playing with the nickname a bit, Witteles came to the table wearing a Head and Shoulders t-shirt and used a Head and Shoulders travel sized shampoo bottle as a card capper.

But it was Woolf who was head and shoulders above the competition on day 1a. Witteles became an afterthought at the table as he was bounced by midday, and Woolf was controlling the action with a chip stack of around $70,000. He could not hold on to his lead, however, and ended the day with $46,500 in chips. Still a healthy stack.

The Rest of the Fleet

Plenty of notables remain in the field, and will have a day of rest and relaxation tomorrow. Kenna James, Victor Ramdin, Russ Salzer, Mark Gregorich, Chris Hinchcliffe and Dan Alspach will all return to play Wednesday. Ramdin is third in chips out of the day 1a competitors.

The Flotsam

On this high seas adventure there was bound to be some wreckage. Other notable eliminations from day 1a include: David Levy, Jean Robert Bellande and Joe Sebok.

Chip Leaders after day 1a:

Ali Eslami $78,000
Richard Predham $64,000
Victor Ramdin $61,500
Ville Vainio $59,000
Steve Godwin $54,000

List of things that would only happen on a poker cruise (Night 1/Day 1)

The PartyPoker.com Million V is the ultimate destination tournament. Being on a cruise ship with people from all walks of life, and some of the highest stakes professional gamblers is bound to produce some comedy.

So for all you land lubbers, here is the first installment of things that would only happen on a poker cruise:

1) Amir Vahedi hit on my sister at the pizza bar. Then spent the day hanging out with my sister and girlfriend at the pool, doing a variety of activities from trying on my girlfriend's sunglasses to cannonballs in the saltwater pool.

2) While looking for my cruise photos, I ran across shots of Mimi Tran and Victor Ramdin cheesing for the camera, wearing life jackets on the way to the mandatory muster (safety) drill.

3) I overheard this in the Internet lounge: "I'll be able to print out a (horse) racing form from the boat! Unbelievable." This was followed by giddy laughter and a look of pure glee similar to that of a school child discovering the contents of a piñata for the very first time.

Day 1b begins tomorrow, March 14th at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. Stay tuned to CardPlayer.com all week for event reports from the PartyPoker.com Million V.