Hello again and welcome back to Poker In America. I hope everyone here in the States had a pleasant Thanksgiving holiday and had their fill of turkey, football and spirits. Hurry up and eat those leftovers, we’ll be doing it all over again in a few weeks as Christmas and the New Year approaches. All of us here at PokerPages had a bit of a break, but it seems that poker players never rest, as it has been another busy couple of weeks on the Tournament circuit. Let’s get to it.
With all the prize money won at the Foxwoods World Poker Finals there were plenty of players looking to get that money back into play and parlay it into even more. That brings us to The Commerce Casino in Los Angeles California.
Tournament Director Cheri Dokken and rest of the Poker room staff at the Commerce did another fine job in hosting their Holiday Bonus Tournament. 10 very affordable ligaz11 events ($100-$300 buy-ins) didn’t keep the prize pools from inflating. Total prize pool for the entire 10-day event climbed over $645,000. To kick off the tournament, it was employees only. The Employees Limit Hold ‘Em free roll, a favorite among the staff, featured 122 of the Commerce’s finest. Raul Ruiz gets bragging rights for the rest of the year his win in that event.
The first “official” event, Event #1 Limit Hold ‘Em saw the biggest prize pool of the event. With over $131,000 ready to be split up among the day’s money finishers, you knew that it was going to take a few rebuys (310) to make the final table. Vinny Vinh, from my home state of Texas, took first place, and more importantly the $63,355 that went along with it. Good Job, Vinny.
Event #2 Omaha Hi/Lo went to a well-known California tournament player. Minh Nguyen elbowed his way through 208 other players and took home the trophy and a respectable $7,740 for first place.
Vinny Vinh was at it again taking another first place finish ahead of 146 other players in Event #3, 7 Card Stud. He added another $5,690 to his bankroll for his efforts. If he’s not careful, he’ll make a name for himself, if he hasn’t done so already.
The only no limit Hold ‘Em event was played in event #4. The number of players point out that this is still America’s favorite game. With 222 players ready to duke it out, it was eventually California native Daniel Abrams who came out on top and took the $18,345 first place prize. Sorry, no picture was taken for this event.
In event #5, Limit H.O.E. Al Bahan not only had to make his way through a field of 144 players but also had to go heads up against Top Pro Tony Ma if he had any thoughts of taking first place. Well, David beat Goliath in a pitched battle as Al beat Tony took the $10,945 1st place prize money. Do you think he was happy?
Event 6, the second of the 7-Card Stud events, we saw Noel Castro and 7-card stud specialist Vinny Vinh go heads up for first place. Would Vinny get his third victory in a week? Noel Castro didn’t think so as he defeated the intimidating Vinh and took first place ($22,600). Vinny had to settle for $4,520 and second. Well done, Noel!
They played my favorite game in event #7, Pot limit Hold ‘Em. Only 83 players would make this event, making the fact that I couldn’t be there all the more bitter. In my absence Hon Le, from Bell Gardens, would take first and $13,200. Pro, David Pham, also from Bell Gardens would take second.
The final 3 events would all be Limit Hold ‘Em. The buy-in was $200 for each of the last three events. Ramzi Salem won a whopping $54,155 for first place in Event #8. Bau Le went cross country making to the Commerce all the way from New Jersey. Making the trip well worth it, he took first and $24,245 in Event #9. Finally, to wrap up the Tournament, Phil Nguyen worked his way to first place to collect $32,710 in Event #10. Good Job to everyone who placed in the money of this great new Tournament at the Commerce.
Ramzi Salem Bau Le Phil Nguyen
Next, we move a little to the north to the Oaks Card Club just outside San Francisco for their Low-Ball Turkey Shoot Tournament. In what has become a Thanksgiving tradition for many in the Bay Area area this 1 day tournament has been a favorite among the local poker community for 4 years running. 140 players that included many Casino Executives went to war. When the smoke cleared it was Jeremy Lewis sitting all alone. His first place finish gave him $5,000. I’m sure we’ll see this event next year, as it’s always a class act at The Oaks.
Two other Big tournaments recently started and are currently underway. It’s a great time to be a poker player with some money to spare, as there are some great tournaments at two of poker’s hottest spots in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
In Atlantic City we look to the Trump Taj Mahal for the 2002 U.S. Poker Championship. Satellites have been running since the 1st of November for the 3 day main event on December 17th, the $7,500 buy-in No limit Hold ‘Em Championships. Expect the game’s top players to be in attendance. The first three days results have just come in as the newsletter is about to go out, and here they are: In Event #1 Limit Hold ‘Em, Frank Kroll took First place and $36,741.
It’s a good sign when 331 people show up for the first event and create a prize pool of almost $100,000. There was another large turnout for Event #2 7-Card Stud. Joseph Immordino was better than the other 248 players and took 1st place and $27,528. Event #3, the First of the no limit Hold ‘Em events. Brian Giordano took first and collected $31,413. Stay Tuned to www.pokerpages.com for our continuing coverage of what’s turning out to be a monster event. Thanks to Tom Gitto and the rest of the tournament staff for furnishing results.
Let’s go to Vegas! Ready? Poof! We’re at the country’s premier card room, The Bellagio Hotel And Casino. It seems this is where the Vegas pro’s prefer to play Looking over the results of the first few days events at the Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic does nothing to change that assumption as many of the World Class Players are here and ready to move some chips. I hope you saved your pennies, because if you want to play in any of the reaming 6 events, you’re going to need at least $1,000.
We’re through the first three days and here’s how the cards have fallen to this point: Event #1 saw Tom Cawley edge out Barry Shulman to take 1st place and cash in for $56,648 in Limit Hold ‘Em. In Event #2 the prize pool busted $100,000 as 113 players played Stud. Mori Eskandani from Las Vegas went home happy with 1st place and $43,844. Event #3 results just made it in before the deadline. Brian Green made it all the way from Costa Rica to take 1st place in the Pot limit Hold ‘Em event ($53,544).
In a tough Final table Brian had to beat out names Like Phil Hellmuth, Dennis Waterman, Dan Negreanu, Howard Lederer and Jeff Shulman. For Brian, it was a snap. I’d like to thank to Poker Room Manager Doug Dalton and Jim Sherwood for sending us these results on a daily basis. Stay with PokerPages throughout December as this event wraps up, it’s going to be huge!
Vinny Vinh, Texan
For this issues hot player, I’m going to have to go with fellow Texan Vinny Vinh. At the Commerce’s Holliday bonus Tournament he had 2 first place finishes and 1 second place finish in the span of 4 days booking $73,565 in the 3 events.
Before I sign off I’d like to share some sad news in the world of poker. A close friend and familiar face to many at the Commerce casino, Ross Desimone, passed away last week in his sleep. Ross was the Day shift Manager at the Commerce since 1989 and had been a fixture in the poker scene since the 1960’s. Fred McGarr, Commerce Shift manager, put it nicely when he recently spoke of Ross, “To say Ross was well liked by fellow employees doesn’t seem to do justice to how much we all valued his friendship and cared about him,”. Our thought and prayers go out to the commerce community and Ross’s family. Ross was 61.
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That’s it for this issue of Poker in America, I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing you again in a few weeks. If you have questions, comments, input or hate mail, please feel free to write me.