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WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown, Day 1 Recap
Level 5: 150-300, 25 ante
By BJ Nemeth
Note: To view the official chip counts and seating assignments for Day 2, click here.
WPT Commentator Mike Sexton (center) welcomes the players to the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown before giving the traditional "Shuffle up and deal" announcement.
Sexton is joined by his commentating partner Vince Van Patten, WPT Raw Deal Host and Live Stream Analyst Tony Dunst, WPT Anchor Marianela Pereyra, and Royal Flush Girls Angelique Velez, Tugba Ercan, Jeannie Duffy, and Danielle Ruiz.
Before play began, WPT Anchor Marianela Pereyra interviewed ClubWPT qualifier Butch Valure, who earned his way into this $10,000 buy-in tournament through a freeroll on ClubWPT.com.
There were a lot of players with Floridian roots in the field, including Lauren Kling (right), who grew up in Orlando, and two-time WPT winner Jonathan Little (left), who grew up in Pensacola.
Kling looks up to check the tournament clock to see how many players had entered by that point. Registration remains open until the start of Day 2, and the field size continued to grow throughout the day until it reached 281 players. With a couple satellites running overnight and a few late arrivals expected tomorrow, the field size should approach the 300-player mark.
WPT Player of the Year points leader Will Failla (seated, in blue) fights back a smile when he realizes that the WPT cameras are only filming him because Royal Flush Girls Tugba Ercan (left) and Danielle Ruiz are standing behind him.
Unlike most of the United States, the legal gambling age in Florida is 18, providing a rare opportunity for players age 18-20 to play in a domestic WPT event. And just like last year, the 18-20 year old who goes the deepest in this event will win a bonus prize -- this gift basket highlighted by an electric guitar.
There were three under-21 players in the field on Day 1: Alexander Condon (pictured), Christopher Barnes, and George Sinishtaj. Barnes busted late in the day, while Condon and Sinishtaj finished below average with 22,350 and 23,425 respectively.
Here's a fun fact -- any 18-20 year old who registers before play begins on Day 2 will instantly take the lead in this category with a starting stack of 30,000 in chips.
Royal Flush Girls Angelique Velez (right) and Jeannie Duffy check out the field during Level 2.
In the last hand of Level 2, Chino Rheem and another player reraised each other back and forth after a flop of J98. Once all their chips were in the pot, Rheem showed J9 for top two pair, and his opponent turned over J10 for top pair with an open-ended straight-flush draw.
The turn was the 4, the river was the 6, and Rheem dodged a ton of outs to win the pot and catapult into the lead with about 72,000 in chips. Rheem would stay near the top of the leaderboard for the rest of the day, finishing 8th in chips with 106,100.
Chris Klodnicki (left) and Christian Harder (right) both flew into Fort Lauderdale in the afternoon -- Klodnicki registered late in Level 3, and Harder registered at the start of Level 4. There was an open seat next to Klodnicki, and when TD Matt Savage appeared to be leading Harder to a different table, Klodnicki called out, "Charder! Seat open!"
But Savage was just taking a roundabout path, and when they turned toward Klodnicki's table, his joking mood faded. "No, I was kidding! Not here!" (Nobody wants a player of Harder's caliber on their left.)
Both players survived the day, though Harder (38,625) finished with almost exactly twice as many chips as Klodnicki (19,325).
There was an interesting discussion at Table 11 when it came to light that there is no Wikipedia article about Allen Kessler (left). The three players to his left are profiled on Wikipedia -- Abe Mosseri (center), James Dempsey (not pictured because he was eliminated during the conversation), and Chino Rheem (right).
For further details on their conversation, read the original post by clicking here.
Justin Zaki (right), who finished third in this event last year, watched as defending champion Taylor von Kriegenbergh moved all in after heavy preflop action. But when Von Kriegenbergh saw that his KK was dominated by AA, he got up and prepared to leave.
The flop came 1076, and Von Kriegenbergh said, "It's over. The run is over." But the 8 on the turn put a gutshot straight draw on the board, giving him additional outs to a chopped pot. Von Kriegenbergh sounded ever-so-slightly optimistic as he said, "I guess a nine …"
It's difficult to win a WPT event without catching a few breaks, and Von Kriegenbergh caught one here as the K hit the river to double him up. Von Kriegenbergh was stunned but smiling as his title defense continued. Von Kriegenbergh survived to Day 2 with 20,525 in chips.
Ebony Kenney (seated, center) is one of the WPT's "Ones to Watch" for Season X, seen here chatting with one of the Royal Flush Girls between hands.
South Florida native Jason Mercier (left) was seated next to ClubWPT.com qualifier Don Gehrling on Day 1. Mercier is consistently ranked as one of the best poker players in the world, though he has never won a WPT title -- something he hopes to change soon.
Day 1 came to an end after five levels with 209 players remaining. When the dust settled, it was David Nicholson (pictured) at the top of the leaderboard with 132,300 in chips.
Here's a look at the top 10 heading into Day 2:
1. David Nicholson - 132,300
2. John Dolan - 120,200
3. William Brown - 118,875
4. Eric Afriat - 118,500
5. Brian Senie - 112,900
6. Micah Smith - 109,975
7. Sam Soverel - 106,225
8. Chino Rheem - 106,100
9. Kyle Bowker - 104,000
10. Lee Thomas - 100,800
Registration remains open until Day 2 begins at 12:00 noon ET. Return to WPT.com for continuing live coverage of all the action.
02:38 AM, 04/19/12