Five Diamond Wraps Up at Bellagio in Time for Xmas

by , Dec 20, 2007 | 12:45 pm

The Five Diamond World Poker Classic brings the best in the poker world to the Bellagio each year, and 2007 was no exception. The preliminary events began in late November, and here are some of the better-known winners:

• Event #3 – $2,500 NLHE – 247 entrants, Dutch Boyd won $237,685
• Event #6 – $1,500 NLHE – 508 entrants, Chris McCormack won $239,590
• Event #7 – $2,000 NLHE – 362 entrants, Roy Winston won $230,365
• Event #8 – $2,500 NLHE – 319 entrants, David Pham won $279,845
• Event #12 – $5,000 NLHE – 307 entrants, JC Tran won $523,075

It should be noted that Tom Schneider came in fourth place in Event #3, and Courtney Harrington of PocketFives and PokerRoad made two final tables. Sully Erna, lead singer of Godsmack, came in second to JC in Event #12. Other notables who made final tables included Theo Tran, Kevin Saul, Jared Hamby, Nick Binger, Amnon Filippi, Dan Alspach, Marco Johnson, Shannon Shorr, and David Williams.

David Pham also sealed his status as the CardPlayer Player of the Year.

Next up was the $15,000 WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic main event. The total number of players was 664, and the prize pool was $9,661,200 – the biggest prize pool ever outside of the WSOP main event and WPT World Championship.

Hopes were high that several big names would make the final table, but many of them just couldn’t get there. Phil Ivey was the Day 1 and Day 2 chip leader but imploded on Day 3 to be eliminated. Gus Hansen was doing well for days until he busted in 22nd place, and Daniel Negreanu took a chip lead into Day 5 but was sent home in 14th. Other bustouts included Erick Lindgren in 10th, Jimmy Tran in 8th, and Raymond Davis in 7th.

Five Diamond Final Table - Courtesy of the World Poker Tour

Five Diamond Final Table – Courtesy of the World Poker Tour

The best known player at the final table was David “Devilfish” Ulliott, Ryan Daut is a young player who won a WPT title in January, and Jordan Rich and Eugene Katchalov are young pro players. Ken Rosen is a virtual unknown, and Ted Kearly is a 75-year old former college football coach.

In the fastest WPT final table on record, Eugene Katchalov took his final table chip lead to victory for a $2,482,605 payday. All of the action was summed up here.

7 Comments to “Five Diamond Wraps Up at Bellagio in Time for Xmas”

  1. tbonezz111

    One of the many great showings this year at the 5 Diamond Classic was overlooked… just like in my opionion, pretty much his entire “professional” poker life. Gregg Merkow of Plano, Texas finished 3rd ($89,600) out of 302 in the $3000 NL event #9 and then in the very next tournament, $5000 NL event finished 5th ($61,490) out of 287. For someone that has won over $1.3 million since August of 2005 one would think that you could find some coverage, recognition, etc. For someone that has won a WSOP circuit event championship main event (Tunica 2005) WSOP circuit event (Tunica 2006) and the very next day a WPT event (Tunica 2006) and has a 2007 POY ranking of 39 you would think that there would be something more. So many “young guns” and “names” get covered that have minimal career winings… what does it take? I know it can’t be personality, as you can not be in a card room and not know that he is there. What more does one have to do???? I guess unless you have been lucky enough to be at the final table of an event with TV coverage (his WSOP circuit championship event was not covered by espn, only a 30 second highlight during the next circuit events showing) you are just left out?

  2. Dan M

    Sometimes it just takes the right people paying attention.

    We are huge Gregg Merkow fans here at Pokerati … I know you know he knows I know you know. (And I can’t tell you how many non-poker people tell me how much they miss Merkow’s Steaks & Seafood here in Dallas. Well actually I can … like 4.)

    Anyhow, congrats Gregg! And thanks T-Bonezz111 for letting us know. Next time text me when he makes a final table.

    Go 3rd Place!

  3. tbonezz111

    You got it.. And I agree… we had a nice little thing down there on Greenville while it lasted. Thanks Dan, and I am still waiting for you at Del’s out here in Vegas!

  4. BJ Nemeth

    Tbonezz111 —

    I am one of the top poker tournament reporters in the business. I’ve been the lead tournament reporter for Card Player, the World Series of Poker, and the World Poker Tour. Whether it’s fair or not, I have a fair amount of influence (and responsibility) over who gets “covered” and who doesn’t.

    It is *not* an easy decision.

    In the early days of live poker reporting, it was actually a *very* easy decision. If you recognized a player and knew their name, you included them in the chip counts. It really was that arbitrary. (When I started covering tournaments, there were no online player databases, and no pictures available — you either knew a player, or you didn’t.)

    But as each tournament passes, you learn more and more of the players. And there comes a point (which I passed long ago) where you know more players than you can reasonably cover. A 250-player chip count just takes too damn long.

    So how to prioritize?

    Obviously, you have to cover the A-list players: Brunson, Ivey, Negreanu, Greenstein, Hellmuth, etc. You also have to cover prior champions (who won the particular event in previous years), and players who are on hot streaks or near the top of the Player of the Year rankings. You also have to cover the B-list players, but that list is less concrete and subject to change based on who is making the list. And don’t forget the online players (when you recognize them), because they often have a lot of fans who are interested in following them online.

    FYI, I am talking about “coverage” only in terms of live tournament reporting (chip counts, hand updates, photos, etc.).

    So what about Gregg Merkow?

    I was reporting for Card Player when Gregg Merkow won the WSOP Circuit Championship in Tunica in August, 2005. I know who he is, and I recognize him whenever he plays (usually in a sports jersey). At one point, I even added his name to my mac’s user dictionary, so “Merkow” doesn’t show up underlined as a misspelling when I type it. To top it off, Gregg is a very nice guy.

    But in a big field, we usually won’t cover him until the field thins out. (And big-field tournaments are usually the only ones that receive online coverage.) There are just too many recognizable, notable players, and some need to be left off the chip counts to make it manageable.

    It’s not a fair system. But keep in mind that each year more and more players become “notable” in some way or another — 55 WSOP bracelets are awarded, 17 WPT champions are crowned, 9 players make the WSOP Main Event final table, countless WSOP Circuit event winners, etc. Ask Pokerati’s very own Tom Schneider, who made a WPT final table and still had to win not one, but *two* bracelets in the same WSOP before appearing in the chip counts.

    For what it’s worth (and to point out the obvious), if Tom Schneider’s (very attractive) wife had made one WPT final table, or won one WSOP bracelet, she would be included in every chip count for the next decade. Successful women in poker are still exceptional and notable, and easy to track in a field filled with men. As a 35-year-old white male, I can honestly say that 25-45 year old white male poker players are a dime a dozen, and it takes a *lot* to stand out from the crowd. If Gregg were a woman, or a minor celebrity, or 18 years old, or 88 years old, we’d be covering him.

    Unless and until player tracking becomes electronic (don’t hold your breath), a lot of quality players will not receive the coverage they deserve. It’s just too difficult to track everyone, even if you recognize them. Tournament reporting is very manpower-intensive, and it’s a service that usually costs the websites more than it returns.

    I know you could easily list dozens of players less accomplished than Gregg Merkow that receive more coverage than he does. I’ll admit that in that sense, it’s an unfair system, but there just aren’t enough resources to cover everyone. Like every other media endeavor, it’s ultimately about the ratings.

    You asked what Gregg has to do to get more coverage. Well, if Gregg goes deep (final two or three tables) in one or two $10,000 buy-in events, he’ll almost certainly start showing up in the Day 1 chip counts. He needs to do well in front of the reporters who cover the big events.

    I know these aren’t the answers you were hoping for, but I thought I’d try to shed some light on the situation.

    — BJ Nemeth

    P.S. — I hate to nitpick, but Gregg never won a WPT event. The preliminary events that precede World Poker Tour events aren’t affiliated with the show, even if the host casino brands them that way. The WPT reporters always do their best to provide coverage for all prior WPT winners.

  5. tbonezz111


    Thank you for the insight. I can understand what it must be like to try and prioritize what gets in and what doesn’t. The job that you and countless others do on a daily basis to keep us “rail birds” up to date is way over looked and taken for granted by many. It may not have been the response I was looking for, but, given the reality of the situation, I appreciate the reply.

    Like I’ve told Gregg over and over again…. if he just had a pair of ….. well… we’ll just leave it at that! 🙂

  6. BJ Nemeth

    Thanks for understanding the situation, Tbonezz. I think it’s harder for me than most tournament reporters, because I recognize more of the live tournament players than anybody else currently working, so I *know* who we’re not covering.

    It’s particularly frustrating when I think back to my early days, when I didn’t recognize enough players, and I felt guilty for not covering more. Now, I recognize too many players, and I feel even more guilty — it’s much easier on the conscience to not recognize someone than to recognize them and skip past them.

    I really, really, really, really want RFID tracking in the poker chips, and swipeable player cards to track who is at each table — chip counts could be done automatically for the entire field after each hand. Imagine that! A live, constantly updated leaderboard that everyone in the room could see (players, fans) that included everyone from the start of the tournament, and not just the “big names.” Most players would love it, and so would the fans. Imagine how much more exciting the WSOP Main Event would be if there were a live leaderboard — someday it might get so crowded that they could actually (gasp!) sell tickets!

    Okay, I’m dreaming. But Santa, if you’re listening (and if you’re real, which you’re not), I’d love RFID tracking at the WSOP this year or next. The WSOP is the only poker tournament where it makes any sense at all, because you have a high volume of important poker tournaments in one place and at one time. (55 events in 7 weeks). It’s up to the WSOP to innovate in this area, but it’s just not a priority for them.

    Until then, I’ll keep doing my best. And if Gregg keeps doing his best, hopefully it’ll be impossible to ignore him. 🙂

  7. Poker Shrink

    As well as the matter of who the tournament reporters know, there is also the part about who they (we) like or dislike. Unfortunately with WPT and WSOP taking on exclusive media reporters there are fewer reporters at the events and fewer places to find reports on the non-“A” list players. I cannot tell you how many times I have asked and been asked by another reporter: “Do you know who the player is in Seat 4?” These days there are no other reporters to ask that question, so more deserving players slip through the cracks because of the limited coverage allowed at major events.