There’s a reason people live here. A reason that nearly ten million souls crowd the freeways, boulevards, and hillsides of Los Angeles County. Some come seeking stardom, others chasing a different sort of California dream. They breathe in the smog, fight the traffic, pay $7 for valet parking, brace themselves when the ground shakes, and calmly evacuate when it catches on fire. They cheer for the Lakers, the Bruins, the Trojans, the Dodgers, and the Kings. They do it because today it was 78 degrees outside, and tomorrow it will be 78 degrees again. A lack of winter cures almost all ills when it comes to Southern Californians.
Los Angeles is also home to arguably the juiciest poker action in the world, much of it right here at the Bicycle Casino. Walk inside the Bike at 11:00 a.m. like we did today and you’ll find over a dozen tables in action. Wait three hours and that number will double. Southern Californians have that gamble in them (heck, it’s a gamble just to move here) and a slew of talented locals joined the cadre of young online whippersnappers, grizzled veterans, and poker-made millionaires who descended upon the Bike this afternoon to have a go at the NAPT Los Angeles’ $725,000 first-place prize.
One-third of the 2010 “November Nine” were among the 371 players who bought in on Day 1B. Although Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi and John Dolan went out about halfway through the day, Jason Senti managed squeeze through to Day 2 after spending most of the day hovering right around his starting stack of 30,000. But as my colleague Howard Swains put it, “Senti was short-stacked for the last four months so I suppose he’s used to it.”
Team PokerStars Pro was out in force with luminaries like Vanessa Rousso, Daniel Negreanu, David Williams, Joe Cada, Andre Akkari and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier flying the mighty red spade. ElkY endured one of the most gruesome beats we saw today, after hitting fours full on a 10♦10♥4♥ flop. His opponent, Hafiz Khan, check-called ElkY’s 2,400 bet on the flop, then paid off another 3,325 when the 6♠ hit the turn. The river was the 8♠ and ElkY moved all-in for his last 13,000 only to be snap-called by Khan, who revealed 10♠8♠ for a bigger boat.
Victor Ramdin was dealt an equally harsh blow, flopping trip aces and pairing his eight kicker on the turn, only to watch Jamie Rosen turn over aces full of tens to end his tournament.
Among the more fortunate souls on Team PokerStars Pro were Cada (78,900), Akkari, and a quartet of Canadians– Negreanu, Greg DeBora, Anh Van Nguyen, and Marcello del Grosso, who mounted a stunning comeback and bagged up 51,000 after being cut down to only 3,000 in chips in the early going.
And then there was Phil Laak, who amused himself between hands by pounding a wad of silly putty into the lip of his table with a wooden spatula. Never a dull moment here on the NAPT, folks.
As the night drew on, the tournament’s big stacks began to emerge. Michael Binger had been patiently grinding all day, reading a novel to pass the time between hands. However, in Level 8 he found himself in the pot of the day, getting his stack in the middle holding J♥10♦ on a 9♦8♠7♦ flop against four opponents– one with the bottom end of the straight, another with middle set, and a short-stack with ace high. The hand took him up to 158,000 in chips and he’ll return tomorrow with 141,800.
Leading the pack into tomorrow is a man who is a long way from home right now. Denmark’s Kim Frederiksen ended the day with 237,000 in chips a feat even more remarkable given the fact that at one point he was down to only 5,000. Close behind are Hafiz Khan (210,200), Blake Kelso (207,500), and David Sesso (202,000).
The approximately 170 players that bagged up tonight will join the 162 Day 1A survivors tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. to play on. At stake is more than $3.2 million in prize money and even in the land of Hollywood glitter and gold, it’s still quite a princely sum. For a more detailed look at what they’re playing for, check out the NAPT payouts and winners page.
A full set of official chip counts will be posted on the NAPT chip counts page as soon as they become available. To catch up on any of the action you might have missed, take a look back at our earlier posts.
All photography © Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography