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The Bubble Bursts on Day 2


After a long day of climbing the Dunn's River Falls, and swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, the 207 survivors from day one of the Million V returned for the official start of day two.

The notables among them included, Ali Eslami, Victor Ramdin, Ralph Rudd, Gavin Smith, Dustin "Neverwin" Woolf, Michael Gracz, Kenna James, Steve Zolotow, Yakov Hirsch, Daniel Clegg, Samir Shakhtoor, Chris Hinchcliffe, Michael Carson, Alexandra Vuong, Morgan Machina, Karina Jett, Michael Abecassis, Russ Salzar, Allyn Shulman and Mark Gregorich.

Fast Starts and Early Exits

Play began with blinds of $500-$1,000 with limits of $1,000-$2,000, and as promised, although limit hold'em tournaments start off slow the action speeds up in a hurry as the blinds increase.

Mark Gregorich and Daniel Clegg were two of the level-one casualties.

One of the dominant players on day one, Dustin "Neverwin" Woolf was eliminated toward the end of level two, as was poker pro Morgan Machina who described his experience on day two as "Too little too late." In total 81 players went bust in the first two levels of play.

Day 1a chip leader Ali Eslami must have taken his poker inspiration from the waterfalls. There seemed to be nowhere to go but down for Eslami who started the day with $78,000 in chips, but was eliminated by the beginning of the third level of play.

However, some others used the increased action to build their stacks. Allyn Shulman started the day with just $12,000 in chips, but got off to a quick start, building her stack to $37,000 in the first two hours. This success out of the gate was enough to propel Shulman into the money. However, she was unable to survive day two. Shulman was eliminated in 84th place, earning $16,000. She was one of only two women players to cash in the event. 54th place finisher Gloria Fontana was the other. She earned $19,000.

The Champ is Gone

Michael Gracz kick started his phenomenal 2005 season on the PartyPoker Million IV cruise. Gracz won $1,525,000 there, and added a World Series of Poker bracelet to his list of accolades.

Gracz did his best to defend his title, and surviving day one in the top fifty was a good start. He started day two in 38th place with $41,000 in chips, but was out before the money. There will be no repeat champ this year.

The Money Means More

As the money bubble of 99 players approached, the interest of the spectators swelled. With all of the action consolidated to the smaller tournament area there just wasn't enough room for all of them, and so the "deckbird" was created. Many curious onlookers stepped outside on to the cruise ship's decks and peeked at the remaining players through the ship's windows.

At 11:26 p.m. the money bubble burst. A survivor's celebration is nothing new, but the excitement aboard the Westerdam eclipsed that of most other major tournaments.

With many players qualifying online for a fraction of the actual $10,000 buy-in - some even earning their buy-ins through freerolls - the money clearly meant more to most of the participants. All of the remaining players were guaranteed at least $16,000 - a substantial win if you got on the ship for a buck.

Gavin Smith's Wild Ride Part II

If you're looking for adventure, hop a ride on Gavin Smith's chip stack. The ups and downs for Smith on day two rivaled those of the seas en route to Grand Cayman.

Smith started the day in 19th place with $50,000 in chips, but used the leverage of the bubble to build his stack to approximately $120,000. Smith was so in control of his table he had the other eight players drinking cocktails as soon as the bubble burst. But the maestro lost control shortly after, and dipped back to $45,000. On a late evening break Smith vowed to go out firing, adding, "I'm not gonna get down to $20,000 and have to play ace-six like a chump."

Smith indeed went out firing. Unfortunately, the operative part of that statement is "went out." Smith was eliminated in 53rd place, earning $19,000 for his efforts.

"Sometimes the worst hand doesn't catch up," Smith uttered as he headed up to the onboard bar, "The Crow's Nest," for cocktails.

Shark Attack

With a number of top flight pros opting out of this year's Million, there was no guarantee that any big names would make it deep. But in another testament to the skill required in poker, as the field narrowed, many familiar faces began to stand out in the crowd.

Victor Ramdin jumped past the $100,000 mark in chips early in the day, and kept his momentum throughout the evening levels. Ramdin ended the day with $204,000 in chips.

Poker pro Kenna James had a big day two, starting the day with $39,500, and ending with $316,000. James is the chip leader heading into day three.

Both players will return for day three action.

Lost at Sea

Karina Jett and Alexandra Vuong were also eliminated on day two. Neither player made the money.

Chip Leaders After Day 2:

1. Kenna James $316000
2. Peter Campo $293000
3. Marc Souza $275000
4. Mike
Schneider $251000
5. Jason Bouchard $240000
6. Richard Joel $235000
7. Michael Mezguii $219000
8. Scott Buller $207000
9. David Ghiz $207000
10. Victor Ramdin $204000

List of things that would only happen on a poker cruise (Night 3/Day 2)

1) World Series of Poker bracelet winner Todd "DanDruff" Witteles sang Crocodile Rock by Elton John during karaoke hour. If you don't know the song, buy the album or download it, and wait for the lyrics, "La, la, la, la, la, la. La, la, la, la, la. La, la, la, la, la, la." Absolutely the best part.

2) I saw Barry Greenstein wearing AquaSocks.

3) My sister and Amir Vahedi caused a frenzy in the casino when they spent $250 trying to beat a "Pirates Treasure" slot machine for a special prize of a stack of $1 bills that added up to $100 total. The EV clearly sucked, but it got the ship buzzing.

36 players remain. Play will resume on Thursday March 16th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, as the remaining players play down to the final six. Stay tuned to all week for event reports from the Million V.