Computer crashes, flight delays and internet inconsistencies successfully delayed this column once again, but even those pitfalls couldn’t keep this column down for more than a day. I may have failed to put myself in position to appear in this column again, but others won big at the WSOPC’s inaugural trip to Florida, which got underway this week. There was also some serious action in Brazil and a crescendo in the action at the LAPC.
Largest Field in Florida History Fails To Prolong “Year of the Media”
Palm Beach Kennel Club – West Palm Beach, Florida
It’s become increasingly clear that all of the media’s run-good has been usued up for the foreseeable future, as my own personal attempts to cash in on the year of the media have once again failed. I was one of 877 entries over two starting days at the inaugural event of the World Series of Poker event at the Palm Beach Kennel club this week. The $345 event brought together the largest field for a poker tournament in the history of the state of Florida, generating a prize pool of over $250,000 and awarding almost $50,000 to the winner. The biggest names to go deep in this event were former WSOP ME final tablist John Spadavecchia, and Ronnie Bardah, who bubbled the final table in 10th place.
24-year-old Reed Zhao was crowned the champion, the first winner of a circuit ring in the state of Florida. The Lexington, Kentucky native is a high-stakes online cash game grinder, but he’ll likely be playing some more tournaments in the coming weeks to challenge for player of the series and a spot in the Million Dollar Freeroll. Zhao is currently joined atop this list by James Giraldo, who won a $545 event for $43,000 in his first major live tournament, and “Tampa Bay” Ray Del Cueto, who won $28,800 in Ring Event #3.
A Pair of Ladies Hold WPT Invitational in Check
Los Angeles, California
As the longest tournament series outside of the World Series of Poker inches toward its ending, two of the more unique events that the LA Poker Classic has to offer took place. The WPT Celebrity Invitational tournament got underway this week, with boatloads of LA celebrities and poker players rubbing shoulders and doing their thing the red carpet. After playing down to the final six, the two biggest pros remaining are Dan Heimiller and David Kitai, but the story of this table is a pair of chess masters that also happen to be women. Almira Skripchenko and Dinara Khaziyeva are each vying for a top prize of $100,000, which includes a seat to the $25,500 WPT Championship. The final table will be played out on March 2nd, so it can be filmed back-to-back with the $10,000 WPT event.
The other unique event at the LAPC this week was the annual Ironman event, where no breaks are given and the tournament is played straight from beginning to end. 68 players signed up for this twisted idea from the mind of Matt Savage, and pro Nikolay Evdakov emerged victorious (and tired). He won $60,630 and a seat in the main event for his victory, which was his second LAPC victory of the week after winning the six-handed Pot Limit Omaha following a three-way chop for almost $35,000. Evdakov is one of four people to own two or more titles at this year’s LAPC and he has thrust himself into the player of the series race there.
Another notable player found victory this week as Owen “owcrowe” Crowe, who won a $1,065 event for over $37,000 in an event that saw Matt Savage’s personal punching bag for the LAPC, Matt Affleck, cash. On several occasions during this series Savage, who is an infamous needler and may or may not have sent yours truly a text message during the AFC Championship game when the Jets were down three touchdowns, has brought up the monster pot that Affleck lost at this year’s WSOP Main Event, once playing it on a giant projector screen for the entire tournament field.
Power Outages Can’t Stop First Chilean LAPT Champion
LAPT Brazil – Sao Paolo, Brazil
Brazilians comprised 60% of the 536 players in this record-breaking LAPT event, and the hometown crowd was hungry to crown the first Brazilian champion in the history of the Latin American Poker Tour on their own turf. They had quite an edge heading into the final table as well, with 5 of the 8 players at the final table coming from Brazil. In fact, all 8 players were from Latin America, and a Latin American nation crowned their first champion, but it was Chilean Alex Manzano emerging as the champion. Manzano satellited in online and turned that small investment into R$ 615,840, roughly $370,000.