Women's Ultimate Poker Challenge

Speaking of Ladies events, Woman Poker Player magazine and The Ultimate Poker Challenge have teamed up to create the Ultimate Women's Poker Challenge.

The event will be held on February 9th at Binions in Las Vegas, Nevada. The final table is scheduled for February 10th and will be televised for a future episode of UPC. Buy-in for the event is $200, though according to their website, Binions will be holding single table satellites beginning on February 8th.

For more details on this event, you can visit the UPC website via the 'read' link below.

3rd Annual National Heads Up Poker Championship

The third annual National Heads Up Poker Championship is scheduled to run between March 1-4 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV. Confirmed to be participating are:

Chris Ferguson (who was the runner-up in both 2005 and 2006), Phil Hellmuth (2005 winner), Ted Forrest (2006 winner), as well as Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Antonio Esfandiari, Sam Farha, Jamie Gold, Joe Hachem, Gus Hansen, Jennifer Harman, Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Chris Moneymaker, Daniel Negreanu, and Greg Raymer.

There will be 64 players altogether, including one player who will win their way in via the free online challenge NBC is hosting. I'm not sure if it is too late to qualify, but you can check out their website for more information. The show will be aired on NBC in April, 2007.

Lou Krieger Wins Binion's Author's Challenge

Poker Author Lou KriegerWhile we all sit here and try to decide if the sky is actually falling on Internet poker or not, there is still some real live B&M poker happening out there, including the Poker Author's challenge at Binion's.

It sounded like a lot of fun, and made me wish I'd collected all my WSOP writings from last year and put them into book form, so I could face off against John Vorhaus (whose homegame I donk around in regularly -- incidentally, even if you can't find the sucker, and therefore know you're the sucker, you're still the sucker) and other guys like Richard Sparks (Diary of a Mad Poker Player), Charlie Shoten (No Limit Life) and everyone's favorite author / blogger, Lou Krieger.

The tourney went off this weekend, and Lou Krieger emerged victorious. This pleases me greatly, because Lou is a great guy, a great friend to all poker bloggers everywhere, and has been a voice of reason throughout what I'm just going to call "the recent unpleasantness."

Lou has all the details of his championship run, in true self-effacing form, at his blog.

One Hell of a Final Table at the Five Diamond

The Bellagio is one of the most beautiful casinos in Las Vegas, and its Fontana Room is my favorite place in the world to play poker. They run fantastic tournaments there, and back in the days before the Intertubes were clogged with poker sites, it was one of the very few places where tournament players could find big buy-ins that rivaled the WSOP.

The crown jewel in the Bellagio's tournament series, called the Five Diamond Classic, is underway right now, and tonight's final table to be aired on the World Poker Tour next season is one of the best I've seen in a long, long time.

Check it out:

1 Daniel Negreanu 4,670,000
2 Mads Anderson 4,315,000
3 David Redlin 2,400,000
4 Joe Hachem 2,345,000
5 Ed Jordan 2,320,000
6 Jim Hanna 1,280,000

Holy crap. The 2004 player of the year, the 2005 WSOP champ, and the 2006 EPT Scandinavian Open champ. Even with the WPT's retarded final table blind structure, this will be one hell of a battle when play gets underway at 5pm Pacific this afternoon.

If you'd like to follow the action, Pokerwire has you covered.

WPBT Winter Classic Recap, Part I

"At one point I stopped everything and just looked around, trying to take it all in. I wanted to capture that exact moment in my mind, forever knowing that I could look back with crystal clarity and draw upon it. Bottling up the sights and sounds, absorbing the intangible essence of camaraderie that simply can't be described with mere words. It was a surreal moment.

These people are my friends and my companions. They are my inspiration and my energy. I begin each day by reading their words, and end each night wrapped in the knowledge that we share a similar bond. Imaginary Internet Friends? Maybe. But they are more real to me in the few days or mere moments I am lucky enough to be around them than are many of the people who I have known personally for years."
- from my notes this past weekend

I'm getting ahead of myself though.

I departed Calgary Thursday morning on only one hour of sleep, too excited the night before to shut down and simply relax. My flight connected through Los Angeles without issue and I arrived in Vegas at 2:15 in the afternoon. In my opinion it is preferable arriving at night, the lights of the city stirring a sense of excitement and anticipation for what is to come before you even get off the plane. However I had to settle for the sight of palm trees and cowboys, both in extreme abundance between the airport and the Strip, but admittedly only one of which that really excited me. (For the record, if you guessed the one with Stetsons you would be incorrect - what can I say, I am from Calgary, cowboys we have.)

After securing my car I drove to the Imperial Palace, thanking the heavens that (for the first time in my history of staying there) I was checked in without fuss or incident. Though I desperately wanted a long, luxurious nap (of the 12-hour variety) I had pre-arranged plans to meet with Richard 'Quiet Lion' Brodie that evening for drinks, so I settled for a 10-minute power snooze before showering away the rest of my sleepiness.

Richard phoned and we agreed to meet at the Wynn. He and Michael Craig, author, of course, of The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King (no, not an affiliate link) had dinner reservations at Okada for 8pm, and since it was a bit later than we had originally scheduled to meet they were gracious enough to include me in their plans. That was an unexpected surprise for me, but a very welcome one.

The dinner itself was exquisite. After meeting the lovely sommelier, Richard and I shared a bottle of Ginga Shizuku - Divine Droplets Sake - served chilled in a beautiful presentation of crystal ware. Because I already ate a few hours prior I wasn't exceptionally hungry, but am fortunate they insisted I try enough samples from the endless stream of platters brought to our table. I realize this isn't a food blog but it would be a disservice not to recreate that meal just a little, so please indulge me for a moment as I recollect. The sushi and sashimi were beautiful works or art, set on a platter artfully decorated along with the expected accompaniments of wasabi and ginger. Among the many dishes we received was a sampling of Robatayaki which also wonderful, including such items as sea bass, asparagus with bacon, organic chicken, and BBQ pork that simply melted the moment they touched your mouth. The final item I had was a miniature taro taco shell, which I believe was filled with blue fin tuna, though I can't be completely sure. Simply outstanding.

Yes, the food was amazing, but the dinner conversation was also stellar. These two can certainly tell stories, and I had a great time simply sitting back, sipping my sake and listening to them recount many of the adventures that the rest of us only read about in their blogs or books. After dinner we relaxed on the show terrace and sipped scotch while they enjoyed cigars, all the while watching a larger-than-life animatronic frog sitting high above a 100-ft screen dance around to War's Low Rider. Seriously, only in Vegas. Though the two of them will come up again a few times in my recap, I'd like to send out a special thanks now to Richard and Michael once again for including me for dinner and drinks, I really did have a great time.

Picking up the crew

I had arranged to meet Kat, Gary, and Maudie at the airport, and was very much looking forward to getting us all in the same place together. I met Maudie last year at the event but it was my first time seeing Kat and Gary live, though we talk to each other most every night. It took mere minutes, no - mere seconds to feel like we have known each other in person for years. To further solidify the bond, we were forced to walk around the airport parkade for a while in Seinfeld-esque fashion since I neglected to notice where I parked, so excited was I to finally meet them all. Fortunately Gary was resourceful enough to locate the car and we were off in search of further misadventures at the Hôtel de Débauche.

After arriving back at the IP we found the meet & greet organized by Pauly to still be in full swing - and continued that way until the sun was up. I find it hard to convey the feeling of just sitting amongst these people, but let me assure you they are the best group of alcohol-swilling, junk-grabbing, hammer-dropping degenerates you are likely to ever meet. As anyone new to these events will attest, all you have to do is introduce yourself once and before long you are known to everyone. Since I have been in attendance before, I relived the experience through those that were there for the first time - it is simply displayed on their faces. A mixed look of pure astonishment, happiness, amazement, and a true sense of contentment knowing they belong.

That, my friends, was just Thursday. More to follow shortly.

2006 Five Diamond World Poker Classic

In a rather unbelievable run, Justin Bonomo, better known to the online poker world as the controversial "Zee Justin", has made three final tables at the 2006 Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. (Insert your own joke here, if desired.) Scoring a 4th, 5th, and 8th place finish, he has earned himself over $110,000 in this series alone. Huh.

Actually, the final tables have been littered with familiar names throughout the duration of this tournament, as you will see in the recaps below.

The $15,000 buy-in WPT Main Event: The Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic Championship, begins tomorrow, Thursday December 14th and runs through the 19th. FlipChipPro has been at the tournament taking his usual outstanding photographs, so go check them out at the LasVegasVegas poker blog. Also, Card Player and Bluff have been covering the events so feel free to peruse them at your leisure. We all know you don't want to do any work today anyways.

Final table recaps for the first 11 events can be found after the jump.

Continue reading 2006 Five Diamond World Poker Classic

Return From Vegas, Trip Reports Coming

Unless you are:

a.) a first time visitor to this (or any other poker-related) site,

-or-
b.) have been living in a cave

then I am sure you know the World Poker Blogger Tour invaded Las Vegas this past weekend. Trust me when I say that "invaded" is the correct term.

Since it was after midnight Monday (well, Tuesday morning) when my plane finally touched back down on Canadian soil, I haven't had a chance to finish compiling my notes from this weekend. In fact I broke tradition and didn't write much down at all, so I will be relying a lot on memory which could make it a rather fuzzy long process.

I'll be working on that and a few other things today as my system readjusts to coffee being the daytime beverage staple of choice (rather than beer/greyhounds/bloody mary's), but in the meantime check out Hoy's latest Hot Hand series if you haven't done so already:

Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game
Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game Part II
Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game Part III
Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game Part IV
Hot Hand -- Flopping a Set in NLH Cash Game Part V

Vegas Bound

By the time most of you read this, I will be at 35,000 heading down to the land of bright lights and desert nights. Unfortunately the weather is going to come up short of tropical, but it is still miles better than the Canadian climate I'm used to in December. In case you aren't aware, I am heading down for the 3rd Annual WPBT (World Poker Blogger Tour) Winter Classic. I was in attendance last year, though a bout of pnemonia hit me and I only got to experience a tiny portion of the fun. This year I am flu-free (knock on wood) and plan to take full advantage of that fact.

On Saturday we will be playing a tournament amongst ourselves, with an $80 buy-in and $50 rebuy option. Nice stakes considering there should be a fairly high number of entrants. I also have a few other things I am working on while down there so check back for trip reports, tourney details, poker thoughts and whatever else I can come up with. Now I just hope the wireless works at the hotel better than the last time I was there!

For any of you who are going, I look forward to seeing you in a few short hours!

Phil Gordon Wins Live Full Tilt Tournament

Team Full Tilt member and Roshambo King Phil Gordon has won the FullTilt.Net Championship, which was held at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas yesterday.

According to CardPlayer.com, Phil and five other competitors battled it out for the first place prize of $600,000 during a live broadcast - with Phil beating fellow poker pro's Allen Cunningham (first out), Roland De Wolfe, Toto Leonidas, John Juanda, and a Swedish online qualifier named Stefan Rehn. Now that would have been an interesting match to watch - did anyone see this show? Apparently it was broadcast on FSN - but since I am from Canuckland I don't get quite the same programming as you all. Yes, I'm a little bitter about that fact, though I am more bitter that I didn't get turkey yesterday. However, I digress.

You may be happy to know that Phil managed to win the tournament playing The Tourist (A7o) against De Wolfe's 69 suited. Roland took home $250,000 for his second place finish. Pretty nice consolation prize.

You can read the full details on CardPlayer's webiste via the 'read' link below.

End of an Era - Stardust Closes Doors

It has been a very sad week for me. No more Wayne Newton Theatre. No more Coco Palms Restaurant. The Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada closed their doors last week for good after 48 years of service. This one hit me kind of hard because it was the first (and second) casino in Vegas that I ever stayed at, and we all know that no one ever forgets their first, right? We were driving up and down the Strip late at night without a reservation, their larger-than-life marquee sign flashed room specials for $39.95 - including two full dinner buffets. Ahhh the golden days of Vegas. Now you are lucky if you can find anything under $100 for the night, especially on the Strip.

Replacing it will be the new $4 billion hotel and casino - Echelon Place, which will include extensive shopping and convention space. Apparently the Stardust is scheduled for demolition in early 2007, and the new development is expected to be completed around 2010.

According to their website, Items from the Stardust Hotel and Casino will be up for public auction from Friday, November 17 through the 21st.

Festa Al Lago Main Event Results

Ok, I'm a little late on this one, but for the sake of posterity - The 2006 Festa Al Lago World Poker Tour Championship Event wrapped on October 20th, and Andreas Walnum took down the title and over $1 million dollars in cold hard cash. Yeah, that would be a pretty nice payday. 433 players entered this main event, bringing the total prize pool to a whopping $4,200,100. The final table players and their respective earnings were as follows:

1. Andreas Walnum $1,090,025
2. Steve Wong $542,700
3. Joe Pelton $292,220
4. Christopher Loveland $187,745
5. David Baker $125,240
6. Can Kim Hua $83,490
7. Danny Smith $75,145
8. Loi Phan $66,795
9. Christopher Cellery $58,445

Also, for some outstanding pictures of the event, go check out FlipChipPro's work at the LasVegasVegas blog.

Festa Al Lago Classic Results to Date

The fifth annual Festa Al Lago Classic poker tournament is currently running at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and the preliminary events are in full swing leading up to the $10,000 Championship Event on Monday, October 16th. Final table results of the events completed to date are as follows:

Event #1, $1500 NLHE, total prize pool $312,825. Total Entrants: 215

1. Alan Cutler $131,810
2. Kim Frederiksen $63,210
3. Dapo Fadeyi $31,605
4. Ryan Larson $17,235
5. Scott Warner $12,930
6. Mack Lee $10,055
7. Rodney Barkis $7,185
8. Sven Vestlund $5,745
9. Mark Gregorich $4,595

Event #2, $2000 NLHE, total prize pool $271,600. Total Entrants: 140

1. James Rice III $116,555
2. Jean Gaspard $54,140
3. Stuart Krasney $27,070
4. Brian Rast $14,770
5. Minh Nguyen $11,075
6. Chip Jett $8,615
7. Tony Abesamis $6,155
8. Victor Bailey $4,920
9. Ablahad Salim $3,940

Event #3, $2500 NLHE, total prize pool $264,325. Total Entrants: 109

1. Justin Young $139,365
2. Manny Syragakis $59,705
3. Mikael Thuritz $31,045
4. Vijayan Nagarajan $16,725
5. Lance Allred $13,135
6. Ty Wilson $10,745
7. Rocky Enciso $8,360
8. Matt Dean $5,970
9. Brian Wolfe $4,775

Event #4, $3000 NLHE, total prize pool $238,620. Total Entrants: 82

1. Steve Dunning $104,355
2. Nam Le $53,280
3. J.C. Tran $27,705
4. Ned Cruey $14,920
5. Rene Angelil $11,720
6. Henry Nguyen $9,590
7. Tad Jurgens $7,460
8. Melissa Hayden $5,330
9. Adam Geyer $4,260

(various sources)

Festa Al Lago Running at Bellagio

It's almost difficult to focus on anything but the online poker ban news this week, but I'm going to take a much needed break from it and talk about what else is happening in the poker world.

The fifth annual Festa Al Lago at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino kicked off yesterday, and runs through the 19th of October. It culminates with a World Poker Tour Championship Main Event held between Oct 15-19. The lowest buy-in for this tournament is $1500 - definitely one of the more prestigious (and expensive) live tournaments there is.

Following is the schedule of events for the tournament:

October 2 - $1500 NLHE
October 3 - $2000 NLHE
October 4 - $2500 NLHE
October 5 - $3000 NLHE
October 6 - $5000 NLHE
October 7 - $1500 NLHE
October 8 - $2000 NLHE
October 9 - $2500 NLHE
October 10 - $3000 NLHE
October 11 - $5000 NLHE
October 12 - $1500 Seniors NLHE
October 15 - 19th - $10,000 NLHE WPT Championship

The winner of the Championship Event also receives a $25,000 + $500 entry into the 2007 WPT Championship, also held at the Bellagio.

Vince Neil's 2nd Annual Off The Strip Charity Tourney

Last year Mötley Crüe's lead singer Vince Neil hosted the first annual "Off The Strip" charity poker tournament at 'The Joint' in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and he is getting ready to do it all over again.

The buy-in is $500 plus $50, and rebuys and add-ons will be available. Only 150 entrants will be able to participate, and the final table will compete for a guaranteed prize pool of $50,000. Besides the tournament, a silent auction will be held and all proceeds raised from that and the tourney will be donated to the T.J. Martell Foundation through the Skylar Neil Foundation, the charity Vince Neil set up in honor of his daughter who passed away at a young age due to cancer.

The tournament will be held on November 5th. If you are interested in playing, you can contact 'The Joint' at 702-693-5000.

World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table

Unless you have been on a six-week bender, I'm sure you are aware that the final table of the Main Event at the World Series of Poker is being played today. Don't forget that you can catch live updates at Pauly's blog, which we all know is the best thing other than being there live.

I am (like most people I'm sure) rooting for Allen Cunningham to take down the event. Will he still be considered the most underrated poker player alive if he wins? My guess is no.

Game on!

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