Friday, October 01, 2004

Back to Back Grand Slams For This World Class Player

To rise above the ashes is something that all poker players try to attain. All try, most fail. Charlie Shoten is not a failure.

The No-Limit Hold'em Shootout was a tougher field than most tournaments. Polling players, it seems as though many of them feel that their best talents lie in a shootout setting. This tends to keep the weaker players out of the event, and leaves the toughest tournament players vying to outplay each other for the gold. To say that world class poker was played today would be an understatement.

Some of the participants at one table included Kathy Liebert, Dennis Horton, Jerry Rose and Adrian Toms. Kathy was eliminated early when her pair of fours flopped a set and was called by Dennis' pair of fives with the nut flush draw, which got there on the river.

Another tough table included Louis Asmo and Jean Gaspard, who got into a head's up battle. Jean was a bit of a chip dog, but battled his way back to even against Louis. In one huge hand, Jean managed to lay down pocket queens against Louis' pocket kings before the flop. As he was once again battling his way back, he picked up the 64 of hearts and flopped two hearts on a board of TT8. Louis held J8, the jack was a heart. On the turn, Louis had an open ended straight draw as well as two pair and a four-flush when the nine of hearts hit. Jean, however, got his heart flush. Jean went all-in and Louis called. On the river, the king of hearts landed, giving Louis a better flush, and the win of the table.

One table featured Charlie Shoten and turned out to be the longest playing table. The final three battled it out for over three hours. Charlie looked tired and lethargic, but refused to be beat.

When the final table was assembled after an hour dinner break, each player was given 18,000 in chips to start. Charlie looked refreshed and ready to head back into battle.

Only twenty five minutes into the final table, Charlie had a huge chip lead and was running over the table. In a stunning turn of events, Louis Asmo went all-in on the flop with two spades in his hand, two on board. Unfortunately, for Louis, Charlie turned over pocket sixes, which had flopped a set. The flush never came, and Louis was out of the tournament only minutes into play. He was awarded $4,650 in prize money.

Just two hands later, Charlie was up against Dennis Horton. Charlie held a queen in his hand, which paired him on the flop. Dennis held an eight, which showed up on the turn. Feeling that he had the best hand, Dennis went all-in, only to be called immediately by Charlie, who trapped Dennis perfectly.

Only thirty minutes into final table play, suddenly a champion was crowned. Charlie Shoten has shown world class play in tournament after tournament this week.

Dennis Horton is a resident of Pahrump, Nevada who considers Pot Limit Omaha his best cash game, and No-Limit Hold'em Shootouts his best tournament game. A huge supporter of the WPPA, this was Dennis' first event this week, and he parlayed it into an immediate win of $6,975. He is excited about the WPPA and will be back for the rest of the events.

Louis Asmo believes that a shootout event is the best type of setup for the top players. He seemed in his element and confident playing this format.

Charlie Shoten attributes his win to the fifteen minute nap that he took during the dinner break. He said that he was extremely fatigued and not playing his best before the break, but fifteen minutes of sleep was all it took to steamroll this event. Charlie makes it look so easy. Don't try this at home!

Anyone for No-Limit Omaha Eight?

Thirty-eight players attended the latest WPPA event at the Orleans. Among those 38 were some well known faces, just returning home from Aruba. Others were former winners from earlier this week, in previous WPPA tournaments. The field was enthusiastic and ready for hot Omaha action.

In a suprising turn of events, players were allowed to vote on the payout structure they preferred, from a list of available TEAR's payouts. Players seemed very pleased that they were given a voice in this decision, not forced to accept the payout percentages decided by a cardroom. The vote was overwhelmingly in support for one particular payout, which was the one used.

The final table wasn't set until 9:00 pm, due to the tough competition and an excellent structure, which will propel the best of the best to WPPA final tables.

At the nine-handed table, there were three short stacks hanging on by threads. Eventually one of them had to fall, then another, then the third, and suddenly six players found themselves in the money.

Gioi Luong was the chip leader, with 24,300. If you recognize his name, it is because he was one of the winners in the first event, on Monday. With only one year of tournament experience, and no previous Omaha cashes, he found himself on his 22nd final table this year, and the overwhelming leader in a game he felt might be his weakest.

Charlie Shoten, enjoying a fantastic year himself, was in the second lead, with 14,000 chips. Charlie seemed to be in the zone, tossing his handball back and forth, cracking jokes and obviously comfortable.

Max Pescatori is no slouch. Making back-to-back final tables, he was the third chip lead with 10,800.

Larry Eubanks is a player who seemed in his element all day. Known for several big wins in the southwest, he freerolled this event and was on top of his game. He started the final table with 8,800.

Steve Kaufman listened to music most of the day and played well short stacked. He had 8,200.

Emil Goralewski was the shortest stack, with 6,100.

Charlie, Larry and Gioi got into a groove that didn't seem to stop. Looking comfortable and pleased with their play, they dominated most of the final table action.

The first to fall was Steve Kaufman, who just couldn't seem to get much going on once the players were in the money, and went all-in on a hand he never showed. He was awarded with $2445.

Max's best game is Omaha Eight, but he feels that he made one critical error in his final table play, which cost him the win. He never quite recovered from losing that large pot, and was blinded out in fifth place, honorably receiving $2800 in prize money.

Emil hung on with a short stack for many rounds, scooping pots with hands close in value, until the final hand, which wasn't shown. His prize was $3330.

The remaining three players counted their chips, and found that although Larry was now in the lead, he had no more than 1500 over any other player. These three gentlemen decided on an even split for $8920.

Gioi and Charlie wanted to play for 1st place bragging rights and to have a little no-limit Omaha fun. Larry begged out, and watched the action unwind.

To say that these two had a fun time is an understatement. Giggling like schoolgirls, they played no-limit for a few hands, until Charlie was crippled. Then Charlie decided he would play blind, all-in, every hand. Gioi laughed when the dealer asked him if he wanted to call, and said, "Call? I'm going all-in!" This continued for a couple of hands, until Charlie tried to make a low with three in his hand and two on the board. Gioi cried foul and took the chips. Charlie gave them up with a shrug and a smile, settling for 2nd place and a fun ending.

Larry doesn't feel that Omaha is his best tournament game, in fact, it was fourth down on his list. He has had some good wins recently, however, and feels on top of his poker game. He always has a quick, easy smile, and a nice word for someone.

Charlie feels that Omaha may not be his best game, but he approaches all tournaments in the same way, waiting for the time to move, then making those moves when he knows he will win. His recent tournament record is phenomenal, and he feels he is playing the best poker of his life. It is obvious that he has reached a place of great success in both his life, and his poker career.

Gioi was ecstatic to reach his 22nd final table this year. He was overcome and flushed with happiness to have such an ending in a game he considers his worst. He didn't just squeak into the money like so many other new Omaha players, but he played to win, and his gamble paid off.


The WPPA is giving away six $5000 main event seats for the final event next week. The buy-in will be paid to one winner each day in a freeroll satellite at the Orleans. The winner of the seat must be a WPPA member in order to receive the certificate.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

A Riveting Hold'em Tournament

The Limit Hold'em event at the Orleans WPPA tournament was the most exciting final table yet. Who would have thought that LHE could be so action packed! Had the cameras been rolling, TV ratings would be through the roof.

When the final table got underway, it was filled with a wide variety of players, from young to old, new to extremely experienced. The one thing they all had in common was their great etiquette and powerful play.

Two participants were eliminated right outside of the money in one big hand. Gregg Fund had a good chip lead over these two opponents, and called both all-in's with AK. The shortest stack held AA and the other 22. A broadway straight flopped for Gregg, and both players were out. Then there were three.

Gregg Fund is an aggressive player with a lot of experience. He considers NLHE his best game, and cashed twice this year in the WSOP.

Max Pescatori has had a phenomenal year himself, and doesn't seem to be slowing down. He considers Omaha Eight his best game. His instincts are sharp, proven once again when he knocked out a player early in the tournament with ten high.

Dan Heimiller is a well known top player with 20 years of experience. An inagural WPPA member, he is able to change his entire strategy on a dime, and never lets any hand ruffle his game.

The chip counts were extremely close between the three expert players. Dan and Gregg were virtually tied with 11,425 for Dan and 11,400 for Gregg. Max was only slightly trailing with 9,175.

Play was so powerful during this trio match that spectators couldn't take their eyes off of the action. Gregg was hyper-aggressive, and had a good feel for the table. Max was tricky and able to make moves both before and after the flop with extreme ease. Dan was studious, reading his opponents well and taking shots when he had the opportunity.

At one point, Gregg had both opponents virtually down to the felt. Neither were willing to give up, and battled back, winning large pots due to Gregg's aggressive style. Once, Dan was so short stacked that he put in 300 of his last 400 chips into the pot. Gregg studied the flop for a moment, showed Dan an ace and folded. The crowd was amazed, as Dan only had 100, and a call with an ace seemed an easy one. Later, Dan told me that he was bluffing with eight-high. He also said that he'd noticed Gregg wasn't paying close attention to his stack, so taking advantage of Gregg's wandering concentration, he hoped Gregg wouldn't notice he was down to the felt. The bluff obviously worked, although Gregg chastised himself later, once it was pointed out that Dan only had 100 left.

Max put up a good fight, making comeback after comeback, until the crowd was almost sure he would overcome. Max doesn't play for second place. Then his AJ met Gregg's JT straight draw, which filled in on the river. Max exited gracefully, complimenting both of his opponents and once again showing perfect etiquette, which has been the norm at this table.

Going into the head's up battle, Gregg had quite a huge lead on Dan. Dan is not a quitter, however, and no deal was seriously discussed.

Dan changed gears to counter Gregg's hyper-aggressive style. Suddenly Gregg was put on the defensive, when raise after raise was met with a steely reraise. Slightly off kilter from having the tables turned, Gregg had a hard time adjusting to someone who had previously only called his raises, or backed off rather quickly time and again.

Dan chipped away slowly at Gregg's lead. He allowed Gregg to trap himself over and over, catching good flops, and letting the aggressor do the betting for him. Once Gregg was pot-committed, Dan would spring in with reraise after reraise, until Gregg finally called, mucking in defeat when being shown the virtual nuts.

After an hour of sparring, Dan took the lead, and never gave it back. From then until the tournament ended, Dan was fully in control, giving Gregg small pots, while taking large ones from his aggressive opponent.

Gregg was down to the felt three times before Dan delivered the knock-out punch. Gregg held A6 and flopped a pair of sixes. Dan held T8s and two of his diamonds flopped. Dan's flush came in on the turn, and an ace on the river to make a second pair for Gregg was no good.

Both players were impressed and friendly with each other, celebrating their finishes and getting compliments from the crowd.

When I asked Dan which game he considers his best, he responded thoughtfully, "Whatever game I just won!"

A small addition has been made to the WPPA schedule, which adds daily No-limit Hold'em events, due to popular demand, starting on Sunday, October 3rd. The regular schedule is still being played, as well. All events offer the same low juice which is making the WPPA famous.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

WPPA Event Additions

For anyone interested, the WPPA event being held right now at the Orleans is going to add several NLHE events to their schedule. Events will be held daily at noon, and always have extremely low juice (as low as 2% per event, including satellites!).

The regular schedule will be played, as well, but those events will follow the noon event each day at 2pm. Participants are now being given double the starting chips, in order to promote the very best play. The Orleans is also holding their evening tourneys at 8pm, which are mostly NLHE with a much lower buy-in (but higher juice). They also have been holding both single table and multi-table satellites and super satellites to upcoming WPPA events.

The rumor mill is that the TV station covering the WPPA tournament is going to sponsor several freerolls for their 5k main event next week. Please watch this space for further details. You can win a 5k NLHE seat for absolutely zero buy-in, just show up at the Orleans when I give the word, if things come to fruition.

Feel free to spread the news as well as posting my tournament reports on other sites. I am doing tournament reporting for the WPPA, as well as playing in some events, so I've been very busy, and I can't post to all of the poker groups as usual.

Felicia :)

Who Plays Stud Anyway?

The second day of the WPPC tournament at the Orleans featured a Seven Card Stud event. The buy-in was $1000.

Player after player came to the tournament area, only to see the competition and run for greener pastures.

Who could blame them? The hearty Stud holdouts these days are the best of the best, as fields narrow to the NLHE boom.

Although the tournament was short, it was richly filled. Players like Charlie Shoten and Carl Bruckner were sure to give the very best a run for the money.

Some of the toughest Stud players represented included Jean Gaspard, the "Prince," who counts Stud as his best game and has been playing tournaments since 1996. This 32 year old is always polite, and a true scoundral at the table, laughing it up, while taking every last chip from his amused opponents.

Mike Rabinowitz lives right here in Las Vegas, but also counts Stud as his best game. Although games are tough to find these days, he hasn't lost any of his love for Stud Poker. He began playing tournaments in 1998 and is always on the hunt for a good Stud game.

Harold Barber was one of the veterans at our table, an avid Stud player for 40-odd years, who considers Razz his best poker game.

Rounding out the top players was Louis Asmo, long time professional player who makes Columbus, Ohio his home, but spends most of his time in Las Vegas. He never shrinks from a Stud game, even when the competition is tops.

The field was so tough that not one opponent was knocked out for over three hours.

By 6:00 pm, there were still five. Jean had recently taken the chip lead, pulling ahead of two other competitors who were all about average stacked until that hand, Harold and Felicia Dyer. Yes, yours truly. Raising with aces on third, making aces and kings on sixth, I was outdrawn by Jean's flush and lost the chip lead, giving a large pot to Jean, who was then firmly the chip leader.

Play continued for just a few more hands, until Jean offered the table a deal we couldn't refuse. The payouts were as follows:

1st Place Jean "Prince" Gaspard $3,650
2nd Place Felicia Lee Dyer $1,240
3rd Place Harold Barber $1,240
4th Place Mike Rabinowitz $1,240
5th Place Louis Asmo $1,000

Tomorrow continues the WPPA with Limit Hold'em. The buy-in is still $1000.

Starting Thursday, additional events will be available each day at noon. NLHE will be offered, as well as the scheduled daily event starting at 2:00 pm. The juice remains as low as 2% for satellites, super satellites and daily events. Starting chips have been doubled, in order to allow competitors the most play for their money, while the structure ideal, with 60 minute levels and 90 minute final tables.

A Great Start for the WPPA at the Orleans

The WPPA inaugural event got off to a fantastic start with 62 participants in their $1000 NLHE tournament. As hosts, the Orleans tournament directors couldn't have done a better job.

Although this was the premier WPPA series, the event still attracted some top poker stars, including TJ Cloutier, Stan Schrier, Chad Layne, Men Nguyen and the "Quiet Lion," Richard Brodie. Other bright lights seen at the tables were Louis Asmo, Tom Franklin and Gavin Griffin.

The structure was superb, giving players plenty of play for their buy-in's. Levels lasted a full hour until the final table, which were increased to 90 minutes. The structure went up so gradually, that not even the shortest stacks were forced to make desperate moves early. In addition, the payouts used were TEAR's.

The tournament ran smoothly, surprisingly so, given that this was the first event in a new series. Players were amiable throughout.

TJ was one of the quickest casualties, in the first level, when his pocket fours ran into Louis Asmo's pocket jacks. Men was knocked out not long afterward and the first two hours found many of the players being eliminated.

By 5:30 pm, the final table had already been set. Players decided to make the final table ten handed, although the 90 minute levels wouldn't begin until one had been eliminated.

In a series of three beats, a player who came to the final table as one of the chip leads was eliminated, each time with the best starting hand.

Only two women entered this event, but one of them was still in action when there were nine. Mary went in as the short stack with AT, but was up against two opponents, one which held 77 and Gavin Griffin, who held 85s and spiked an eight.

Very quickly the final eight became six, Gavin falling in eighth place when his ATs met AK.

The one seat was seasoned veteran Tom Christopher who held 10,500.

Kelly Dorn was the short stack in seat two with 4,375 chips.

Chad Lueck was our chip leader in the three seat with over 18,000 in chips.

Ned Cruey had the four seat with 6,000 in chips.

Rick Juhasz was in the five seat with 11,000 in chips.

New to tournaments,with only one year of experience Giui Luong, making his 21st cash, was in the six seat with 11,600 in chips.

The final six started off with a bang, as one player went all-in during the first three out of five hands. Just when it looked like this group would be a fast playing one, they settled into a rhythm and played more slowly, using the structure to their advantage.

The first to fall was Ned Chuey. In the BB, he held KJs and defended against a button raise by Kelly Dorn. When the flop came with a king, Ned went for a check-raise. Kelly happily obliged, but found himself pot-committed, when Ned's check-raise all-in was only a little over one thousand more in chips. An ace came on the turn, and Ned was eliminated in sixth place, paying $3,905. Ned did not make a happy exit, refusing to believe his bad luck and kicking over his chair along with quite a few expletives.

Play was five handed for quite some time, until short stacked Rick Juhasz went in with pocket fives, and was called by Giui Luong's pocket tens. The flop helped Luong, who ended up with tens full of aces. Rick was rewarded with $4,745 and many congratulations of a tournament well played.

The remaining players played on for a while, but asked the tournament director for a chip count deal. At this point, Chad Lueck was still well in the lead with 25,000, but a deal was struck with the following pay-outs:

1st Place Chad Lueck $14,000
2nd Place Tom Christopher $12,680
3rd Place Giui Luong $12,320
4th Place Kelly Dorn $10,000

The final four were all gentlemen, and played extremely well. There was very little stress at this table, as they were jovial throughout, laughing and chatting all the way until a deal was struck. Everyone seemed very pleased with the deal, congratulations and back patting was seen all around the table.

Tomorrow begins event two in the first WPPA tour. The game is Seven Card Stud, the buy-in is $1000.

Both single table and multi-table satellites are being played around the clock. The buy-in's vary, but the juice is always much lower than competing events. The house fee ranges from just 2% up to 12% in each satellite, with the main events likewise charging very low fees. The Orleans is the place to be!