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Poker at the Ritz Storms Puerto Rico

Star-Studded Rums of Puerto Rico Event Kicks Off Wednesday


The first televised poker tournament filmed in Puerto Rico kicks off with the Rums of Puerto Rico Welcome Reception & Press Conference on Tuesday, May 9, at the Ritz-Carlton Spa & Casino in San Juan.

The distinguished list of poker professionals playing at the Puerto Rico Classic includes Jean-Robert Bellande (chosen for the WPT Bad Boys of Poker II Invitational and three first-place finishes), Humberto Brenes (lifetime earnings over $3.6 million plus two WSOP bracelets), Steve Dannenmann (2005 second-place winner WSOP main event, $4.25 million prize) , Freddie Deeb (2005 WPT Aruba champion, WSOP champion), Antonio Esfandiari (WPT winner and WSOP pot-limit hold'em winner), Tuan Le (WPT titles for over $4 million in winnings), John Phan (12 first-place finishes for over $2 million reward), Amir Vahedi (WSOP champ with an impressive 100+ tournament cashes), and Robert Williamson III (WSOP pot-limit Omaha bracelet and cohost of Fox Sports' Calvin Ayre's Wild Card of Poker show).

The public is invited to play with the pros in the $5,000 event starting Wednesday, May 10, at the Ritz-Carlton Spa & Casino. Many local casinos are also holding qualifying tournaments to give locals and tourists an opportunity to earn an entry seat.

Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari shared his thoughts on playing at the inaugural Puerto Rico Classic $5,000 event. "Of course, I'm playing in the Puerto Rico championship event. I love hot beaches and tropical cocktails and hope to leave with a pocket full of cold cash."

The Caribbean Handicap Poker Tournament begins at noon on Wednesday, May 10 and the $5,000 championship event adds a new twist. These 10 pros will begin handicapped with 25 percent fewer chips than other players. And the pros understand that they're starting with a disadvantage.

The event is sponsored by Puerto Rico tourism, Jet Blue airways, Poker Host, Gemaco Playing Cards, and Rums of Puerto Rico.

Will the first Puerto Rico Classic champ be a seasoned poker pro, tourist, or local player?

Robert Williamson III said, "Although the starting chips may be a small obstacle, I am always up for a challenge. I will play, talk, or drink them out of their money. They will have such a good time no one will care if they win, lose or draw. It will be a tournament to remember."