Level 6: 200-400, 50 ante
By BJ Nemeth
Given the conditions in the poker world right now (you know what I'm talking about), the turnout at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown was strong, with 406 players signing up on Day 1. Registration remains open until the start of play on Day 2, so that number is expected to grow even larger. And to get those kind of numbers for a $10,000 buy-in event has to be a little bit of good news for the poker industry.
The official prizepool information won't be available until after registration closes, but we do know that the field is already large enough that first prize will be more than $1 million.
And now, a photographic look back at Day 1 of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown:
The WPT crew gets some footage of the tournament field from the top balcony of the Seminole Hard Rock Live arena. Designed for concerts, the venue provides a unique atmosphere for a poker tournament.
At the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, rock 'n' roll lyrics are quoted in interesting places around the entire property. The top balcony here in the arena is particularly steep, so the sign on the railing quotes the Peter Frampton song, "So Hard to Believe."
Mike Sexton is joined by Vince Van Patten and the Royal Flush Girls as he announces "Shuffle up and deal" to kick off the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown.
David Lawrence was still in his two-week free trial period when he entered a 1,700-player tournament on ClubWPT.com. Lawrence didn't pay much attention to the prizepool until he reached the final table, where he learned that the winner would get a seat into a live WPT event. Lawrence won the seat, and when his free trial expired, happily signed up as a full member of ClubWPT.
For a 20-year-old player with few opportunities to play live tournaments in the United States, Harrison Gimbel (from nearby Jupiter, Florida) has already racked up more than $2.6 million in live earnings with an impressive resume of victories. Gimbel won the 2010 PCA main event, the 2009 Florida State Poker Championship, and the WPT Regional tournament that was held here at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino last November.
Since this is the only WPT event in the U.S. that allows 18-20 year olds to play, the Seminole Hard Rock Casino has created a bonus prize basket for the player in that age group that finishes deepest in the tournament. The centerpiece of the prize basket is an electric guitar autographed by Aaron Lewis of the band Staind.
At the age of 24, Jason Mercier is already listed among the best players in the world, with more than $5.5 million in live tournament earnings. Mercier has won a WSOP bracelet and an EPT title, and is seeking to win his first WPT title to complete the rare triple crown. Mercier is from the nearby city of Davie, Florida.
The Mizrachis have become one of the most famous families in poker in the six years since Michael Mizrachi won his first WPT title back in 2005. The four brothers (Robert, Michael, Eric, and Donnie) grew up in Miami, and this is where they learned to play poker. Here, Robert Mizrachi gets a massage as he plays a hand on Day 1.
Another look at the field on Day 1 of the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown.
Todd Terry (right) won a big pot in the middle of the day involving Chino Rheem (left) and an unknown player in the big blind. After a flop of A93, Terry four-bet all in, the big blind called, and Rheem folded. Terry's set of nines held up against the big blind's flush draw, moving Terry up among the chipleaders with more than 100,000 in chips.
Scott Ian is the lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Anthrax, and also an avid poker player. (Ian has played in a couple of WPT events in recent years.) Ian is one of many musicians who have donated instruments to the Hard Rock chain of restaurants and casinos, and one of his guitars is on display here in the Seminole Hard Rock Live arena.
Nick Grippo emerged as the chipleader late in the day, but ultimately finished second in chips with 149,375.
The RISE Player of the Day was awarded to Day 1 chipleader Randy Dorfman, a University of Miami alumnus who finished the day with 160,000 in chips.
With 290 survivors from Day 1, here's a look at the top five chip counts:
1. Randy Dorfman - 160,000
2. Nick Grippo - 149,375
3. James Caroll - 130,925
4. Todd Terry - 124,975
5. Seth Davies - 115,225
Day 2 begins at 12:00 noon ET. Stay tuned to WorldPokerTour.com for continuing live coverage, including hand updates, frequent chip counts, and another episode of the Jess & BJ Show.
Level 4: 100-200, 25 ante
Photo: Chino Rheem (left) and Todd Terry a few minutes after Terry reached 106,000 in chips.
Chino Rheem raises under the gun to 600, Todd Terry calls from early position, and the big blind calls. The flop comes A93, the big blind bets 1,200, Rheem calls, and Terry raises to 4,800. The big blind calls, and Rheem reraises to 13,200.
Terry moves all in, covering both players, and the big blind calls. Rheem quickly folds AK face up (top pair, top kicker).
The big blind turns over K8 for a diamond flush draw, while Terry shows 99 for middle set.
The 9 on the turn completes the big blind's flush, but he's now drawing dead against Terry's quad nines. The meaningless river card is the A, and Terry pulls in a big pot as he busts the big blind.
Todd Terry - 106,000
Chino Rheem - 55,000
106k. Flopped a set vs nut fd in huge pot.