5.30pm: Level done
That’s the end of level four, and players are heading away for a 15 minute break.
5.15pm: Annette tackles the big stack
It’ll take more than a 140,000 chip stack to frighten Annette Obrestad, and she just demonstrated her willingness to tangle with the tournament chip leader, John Phan. Phan is raising pretty much every pot, but when he did it when Obrestad was on the button, she simply bumped it up to 4,000 (Phan had raised an initial limp to 1,350) and that elicited a bit of a tank but then a “You got it.”
It’s a frightening line-up over there, with Phan, Obrestad and James Carroll recently joined by Isaac Haxton too. Phan still has more than 130,000, while none of the others has much more than their starting stack.
5:08pm: What are they eating?
We know Day 1 can be a bit of a drag. The tournament is far from being won, players are deep into their iPods (or in Jon Aguiar’s case, a game of Angry Birds on his phone), and there’s a lot of folding going on. However, since we are in a Southern California cardbarn, there is one additional element in play. Tableside dining.
Casinos love it because it keeps the players playing. We love it because it eliminates the need for a dinner break and gets us home an hour earlier (that, and the fact that the lunch tab for four of us on media row came out to a whopping $16.75). Although some may frown upon the sight of a few hundred poker pros slurping soup or digging into a French Dip while handling cards and chips, much of today’s field has indulged in the tableside dining menu over the last few hours. Pass the Purell.
So, what are they eating?
Super-healthy: Nancy Todd Tyner (raw almonds), Eric Froehlich (cottage cheese and fruit), Chris Moneymaker (Naked Juice superfood shake)
Sorta-healthy: Jeff Madsen (chicken caesar salad), David “ODB” Baker (chicken pita sandwich with ranch dressing)
So not healthy: Erik Cajelais (creamy-looking soup doused heavily with pepper)
5.05pm: Making it official
The final number of players for day 1A has been confirmed at 330. With at least that expected tomorrow, we could get close – or maybe surpass – the 716 players who came to NAPT Mohegan Sun.
5pm: Phan the phantastic
John Phan is the first player in the room closing in on a six-figure stack. He arrived after the start of play almost undetected, but when he was first spotted a few moments ago he had about 96,000 chips.
4.50pm: Esfandiari cracks kings surges upward
Antonio Esfandiari has had a terrific start to the day, and he has just added another 20,000-ish to his stack to sent an unhappy opponent to the rail. Our departed player raised to 1,025 in early position and Matt Marafioti called, which persuaded Esfandiari along from the button. The three of them saw a flop of 10♠4♥5♥ and the now departed bet 1,350. Both Marafioti and Esfandiari called.
The turn was J♣ and after a check, Marafioti bet 4,200. Esfandiari bumped it to 11,100 and then our departed player moved all in for not much more than Esfandiari’s bet. Marafioti called and the cards were exposed. Esfandiari had 8♥9♥ for all kinds of draws, and he was up against K♠K♦.
The 6♥ river made Esfandiari his flush and cracked those kings. Esfandiari has about 60,000.
4:40pm: So sorry, Soi
Soi Nguyen, fresh off his WSOP November Nine appearance (he finished 9th) just got a good taste of Los Angeles. After he three-bet pre-flop, he was stil up against three other players, all of whom were in for 1,300 apiece. On a flop of 3♠8♦7♦, Nguyen was facing a bet of 1,000. He made it 3,500, then called all-in. His aces were up against a flopped set of threes. Nguyen’s NAPY Los Angeles main event is over.
4:35pm: traheho meets golfa meets Toth
There’s a fierce old corner developing on table 31, where seats two through four are occupied by Alec Torelli, Ryan D’Angelo and Richard Toth. Chris Moneymaker is in seat nine of the same table. Just recently, Torelli opened to 525 from UTG+1, which was called by D’Angelo. Toth made it 1,875 and it was folded back around to the early raiser. Torelli folded, as did D’Angelo.
On the next hand, D’Angelo opened to 500 and only Toth called, taking the two of them to a flop of 8♣7♦A♥. D’Angelo bet 750, Toth called. Then the turn was 5♥. D’Angelo didn’t slow down and bet 2,225, which was finally enough to get rid of Toth.
LEVEL UP. NOW PLAYING 150-300 IN LEVEL FOUR
4:28pm: Raymer halfway back
Greg Raymer has been working on recovering from his early collapse on Day 1A, but he hasn’t had much success. In fact, as of a few minutes ago, he was sitting on just 7,200 chips. After Tomer Berda came in for a raise, Raymer shoved out of the small blind for all his chips. Berda made the reluctant call with A♦Q♥. Raymer sheepishly turned over 6♥4♥. Color him happy when the board ran out 9♥K♠7♥K♥J♠ to give him the flush.
“I better not be shoving light any time soon, huh?” Raymer mused.
4:20pm: River bet confuses Kling
Lauren Kling and a lone opponent went heads-up to a A♦6♦6♣ flop with 2,550 in the pot. The action checked to her on the button and she picked out one chip of each color from her stack, making it 1,625 to go. Her middle position opponent called. The turn brought the K♠ and the MP player again checked to Kling. She bet 3,250 and after about a minute of thought, her opponent called. The river fell the 10♥ and the MP player turned around and led out for a value-sized bet of 4,000. The amount flummoxed Kling a bit; she furrowed her brow, replaying the action and shot her opponent a puzzled look. After about three minutes in the tank, she let her hand go and is back to square one with just a bit under her 30,000 starting stack.
4:11pm: Speaking of David Bakers
Anyone who has followed poker recently know that we poker media have a tough time distinguishing between the David Bakers of the pro poker circuit. We’re apparently not the only ones. With the arrival of David “Bakes” Baker, there are again two David Bakers in the room. One of them who thinks of himself as the Original David Baker (aka ODB) had left his drivers license behind with a member of the tournament staff. Tournament Director Mike Ward got on the mic, “David Baker, could you please raise your hand.” Up stood Bakes, who was summarily dismissed. “O-D-B,” Ward called. “O-D-B!” Finally, ODB stood at the other side of the room. This entire process would be easier if one of the guys would call himself Steve.
4.10pm: Action Acton
Rob Acton appears to be an early chip leader this afternoon, sitting behind 85,000 chips, approx. “Set over set,” was how he explained that stack. That tends to do it.
4:07pm: How big is it?
The final numbers are still coming in, but it looks like we’re going to have around 329 or 330 players today. The people in the know believe the NAPT Los Angeles event could see upward of 400 players tomorrow. Do the math, and that’s going to put us between 700-800 players for this main event. Or, in short, big.
4pm: Home from home
One of the very late arrivals to the Bicycle Casino today is David “Bakes” Baker, a World Series bracelet winner from this summer, and all round good guy. Baker found his seat on table 19, and discovered that he was going to sit beside his friend Justin Bonomo. The two of them are also neighbors in Vegas, where they both live in the same apartment block, the Panorama Towers.
3:50pm Selbst squashed
Vanessa Selbst got herself into a ferocious pre-flop raising war with the big blind, the two of them three, four, and five betting until the big blind finally six-bet shoved and Selbst made the call. Selbst’s A♠K♣ was up against the big blind’s two red aces, the board bringing no help for the newly crowned Partouche Poker Tour champion, who made an early exit into the waning Southern California sunlight.
3:55pm: Expectations, etc
Here’s a bit of the early day expectations, featuring Team Pro Vanessa Selbst (which will seem all the more poignant with an update we’re penning right now).
3:52pm: Raymer’s vengeance still pending
Greg Raymer’s promise to avenge fellow Team Pro Barry Greenstein’s early departure is not going so well. Raymer got top-pair top-kicker with nut flush draw in against two pair. Nothing good happened. At this hour, Raymer is sitting with 9,000 in chips.
3:39pm: Level 3 underway
Players are back in their seats and playing at 100-200 blinds.
3:13pm: Break time
Day 1A players have finished up the first two hours of play and are now on break for 15 minutes before coming back to play another seven levels.
3:05pm: Serock shocked
We came upon Joe Serock’s table with the board reading A♣3♠6♦5♥ and 2,000 in the pot. Both players checked and saw the A♥ pair the board on the river. Serock led out with a pot-sized bet only to watch his opponent in the hijack seat cut out a raise to 7,200. After a bit of hemming and hawing, Serock made the call, grimacing as he saw his opponent turn over 6♣6♠ for sixes full. Serock is down to only a bit more than half his starting stack with 17,500 as Level 2 comes to a close.
2:56pm: The Team Pro exchange
As we mentioned earlier, Barry Greenstein has made an early exit from the main event. Within minutes of his departure, Greg Raymer sat down at the same table. Quickly informed of Greenstein’s end, Raymer made it his intentions clear. “I have to avenge Barry, ” Raymer said. On further reflection, Raymer decided Greenstein was probbaly just trying to beat the LA traffic.
Everyone’s favorite tow-headed Norwegian Andreas Hoivold lost about half his starting stack in the early going but is now back above par thanks to this pot. Hoivold opened for 375, the small blind three-bet to 1,025 and Hoivold made the call. Both players checked the 7♠5♣3♠ flop. The turn came the 10♣ and the small blind made a 500-chip “donk bet” into the 2,200 pot. Hoivold raised to 2,000 and the small blind called. When the K♦ hit the river, the small blind reached into his stack and tossed out 6,000. Hoivold quickly raised to 16,000 and with a pained expression crossing his wrinkled face, the small blind folded. Hoivold raked in the pot and is up to a much healthier 32,000.
2:38pm: A huge Miz-step
With more than thirty minutes still to come off the clock in Level 2, Sorel Mizzi has played his last hand at the NAPT Los Angeles.
On a flop of A♥9♣3♠, the action was checked around to an Italian player who bet 2,500. Erik Cajelais folded and Mizzi called. The turn came the 9♠ and this time Mizzi took the lead, firing out 5,200. After a bit of consideration and a check back at his hole cards, the Italian called. The river fell the K♦ and Mizzi immediately moved all-in for his remaining 12,300. He earned a quick call and Mizzi began collecting his belongings as he laid eyes on his opponent’s A♣K♠.
2.20pm: Field swells further
We’re now up to 315 players, and one of them is Justin Bonomo, who has just arrived and taken a seat on Joseph Cheong’s table. Chris Moneymaker has snuck in too, as has his fellow World Champion Greg Raymer. When questioned about his late arrival, Raymer said: “I’m not being blinded off. If I had been blinded off I’d have showed up on time.”
2:10pm: First tournament jitters
John Verbeeten sat and toiled over his decision. His top-pair, top kicker with ace-queen certainly felt like a good hand, but the bet to him was just too much to call. He begged his opponent to show but was unsuccessful. “Come on. It’s my first tournament,” Verbeeten said. All eyes at the table settled on him. First tournament, indeed.
Now sitting just to November Niner Joseph Cheong’s left, it’s been a few days since Verbeeten flew down from his home on Vancouver Island with the intention of buying directly into this event, his first major live tournament ever. Then, in a pre-tourney session, he played badly, so badly that he couldn’t stand the idea of parting with $5,000 if, in his words, he was going to play “like a donkey.”
Though he’s reached middle age, Verbeeten only started playing poker a few years ago. Once he got to LA, he thought he’d play a live satellite to see if he could get in on the cheap. He played a $500 rebuy qualifier that paid four seats. After eight hours of play, at 4:30am, he finished in fifth place. He missed his seat, but got $1,000. Undeterred, he went back into the satellite pit and played another one. This one earned him his main event chips. Now he’s sitting at a table of seasoned grinders who all now know he’s playing his first tournament.
After the last hand, we chased him outside where he was quickly having a smoke. “I’m not going to be the first-guy-out report, am I?” We assured him that he wasn’t. So, he’s got that going for him.
2pm: Greenstein grounded
We already have our first high-profile casualty, and they don’t come much more high profile in these parts than the Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein. We arrived to the table on the turn, with all the money in the middle and Greenstein facing off against Tomer Berda.
Greenstein’s A♠Q♠ had connected with the flop of 3♥A♣7♥ but not as well as Berda’s 7♠7♦. The turn and river were 5♠3♠ and Greenstein was left with only 175 chips.
They went in on the very next hand, and Tom Middleton re-raised to isolate. Middleton had K♣2♦ against Greenstein’s 7♠5♠ and once a king flopped, it was pretty much over for Greenstein. He hits the rail; Berda is our early chip leader.
Greenstein asked Middleton for his mailing address in order to send him a copy of Ace on the River, the “prize” for eliminating Greenstein from any tournament. Greenstein had not come equipped this afternoon, however, and now faces a hefty postage cost to get the book to the United Kingdom, Middleton’s home.
1:55pm: Sam Stein’s unfinished business
Those of you who have followed the NAPT this year know Vanessa Selbst for her win at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. You know Tom Marchese from his victory at the Venetian. And even though he doesn’t have a NAPT trophy on his mantle you probably know the name Sam Stein for the victory he missed in Las Vegas. There was a time he looked as though he couldn’t lose. Then Marchese launched a comeback attempt that positively eviscerated the aggressive Stein. He was left with a runner-up finish and something left undone. Now, Stein is back to see if he can finish what he started last February.
1:50pm: Ladies for Lind
George Lind just got paid off with with pocket queens on a board of 5♣9♥5♠5♥6♦. With about 10,000 already in the pot, Lind bet 6,500 on the river, was called, showed the ladies and scooped. That will put him to something like 40,000. (Starting stack here was 30,000.)
The tournament board currently shows 304 registrants for day 1A, and I’m pretty sure no one has yet been eliminated.
1:46pm: “Niners” head west
After only a few days of recovery from the whirlwind of the WSOP Main Event final table, three of this year’s “November Nine” just took their seats for Day 1A of play. Joseph “subiime” Cheong slipped into his seat with ninja-like stealth, while Soi Nguyen is attempting to build up a stack across the room. At the back of the room, Matt Jarvis is behind his familiar white-rimmed sunglasses and sporting a patch for his home casino is Vancouver, BC. Jason Senti also qualified for this event and we’re expecting to see him on Day 1B.
1:40pm: Breakfast of champions
Yeah, it’s well after noon here, but it’s always time for breakfast, especially if you’re a poker player. Just witness the food cart next to Andrew Lichtenberger. While we’d be surprised if he weighed 130 pounds, he’s putting away some scrambled eggs (with cheese!) and a healthy stack of french toast. Happy eating, Chewy.
1.30pm: Stacking the field even more
There’s no question about it, this is a tough field. Also now spotted in the tournament room here are these folk:
Sharing a table: Joe “ender555” Ebanks, Sorel Mizzi, Eric Cajelas and Konstantinos Nanos (fresh from a third place finish at EPT Vienna).
Sharing another table: Alex Fitzgerald, Matt Marafioti, Antonio Esfandiari.
Neighbors: Richard Toth and Ryan D’Angelo.
Any minute now, we might even have a hand to report.
Not everyone has taken their seat yet on day 1A, but already there are some vaguely interesting match-ups on a few tables. Shaun Deeb is sitting next to Eric Baldwin; Andrew Lichtenberger is next to Andreas Hoivold; George Lind is beside Lauren Kling. The table draw has also pitched Annette Obrestad against James Carroll and the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Jason Mercier and Vanessa Selbst.
1:12pm: Cards in the air
Day 1A of NAPT Los Angeles is underway with 50-100 blinds.
12:55pm: Just about time for action
The players are taking their seats. Each of them will be starting with 30,000 in chips at 50-100 blinds. They are in for eight one-hour levels this afternoon and evening. We, of course, will be providing live updates until the last bag of chips is tagged.
While not all of them will be playing today, here are some of the Team PokerStars Pros we’ve seen milling about over the past couple of days: Greg Raymer, Victor Ramdin, Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boree, Greg DeBora, Anh Van Nguyen, and Pat Pezzin.
There are many more like Barry Greenstein, Daniel Negreanu, and Joe Cada who will be showing up throughout the next couple of days.
Stay with us.
Live updates brought to you by Change100, Howard Swains, Brad Willis, and photographer Joe Giron