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WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals, Day 1 Recap
Level 6: 200-400, 50 ante
By BJ Nemeth
Here's a look at some of the highlights from Day 1 of the WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals.
Chris Vogel (smiling, center) leans over from another table to photobomb Erik Seidel while the WPT cameras are rolling. Seidel won a WPT title here at Foxwoods during Season VI (2008), though it was the Foxwoods Poker Classic (in the spring) rather than the World Poker Finals.
As for Vogel, this was his first-ever WPT event, having won his entry in a series of smaller satellites the day before. Unfortunately, Vogel didn't survive the day. But Seidel did, finishing in the top 20 with 69,500 in chips.
Before play began today, WPT Anchor Kimberly Lansing sat down with WPT Player of the Year points leader Will "The Thrill" Failla for a "Five Questions" interview that will air as part of the TV show.
Failla was knocked down below 5,000 chips early in the day, reaching a low point around 2,000. Failla was treading water near the bottom of the leaderboard all day, but he did survive to Day 2 with 3,600 in chips (9 big blinds). Failla faces an uphill battle tomorrow, last in chips with 141 players remaining.
WPT Announcers Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten welcome the players to DAy 1 of the WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals, along with WPT Anchor Kimberly Lansing and the Royal Flush Girls.
A year ago, this event attracted 242 players, but the field wouldn't reach that number this year, finishing Day 1 with 185 entrants. Registration remains open until the beginning of play on Day 2 (12:00 noon), so the official numbers and prizepool information won't be available until tomorrow.
ClubWPT qualifier Michael Jamali won his entry into his first-ever WPT event by winning a freeroll satellite on ClubWPT.com. Jamali held his own against the professional players, finishing with an above-average stack of 46,125.
Jonathan Little was one of the former WPT Foxwoods champions in the field with multiple WPT titles, along with Cornel Cimpan and Hoyt Corkins. Of the 15 players who have won multiple WPT titles, five of them have a Foxwoods victory on their resume. (That group also includes Howard Lederer and Tuan Le, but neither entered the event this year.)
Reigning WPT Foxwoods champion Jeff Forrest arrived late but stopped for a brief interview before sitting down to play. Forrest earned $548,752 for winning this event last year.
There was a smaller-than-normal turnout for female players here at the WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals, with only three women among the 185 entrants on Day 1 (1.6%). Inesa Paberzs (pictured) and Gina Fiore both busted on Day 1, leaving Kathy Liebert as the last female in the tournament -- a position she is familiar with.
Unlike most WPT events, nobody really distanced themselves from the field as chipleader on Day 1. Matt Brady was one of the early chipleaders with double the starting stack, and he finished the day in the top 12% with 70,525.
ClubWPT qualifier Don Burwell plays online under the screenname "HammerMan44." No, he's not a fan of M.C. Hammer; he is a union carpenter from Illinois. Burwell defeated a field of more than 4,000 players in a freeroll on ClubWPT.com to earn his entry into this event. Burwell survived to Day 2 with 22,875 in chips -- about half the average stack.
Reigning WPT Player of the Year Andy Frankenberger shares a laugh with Royal Flush Girl Melissa Fisher as she interviews him during one of the breaks.
Tournament Director Jimmy Christina (right) answers a question from Hoyt Corkins, who won this event all the way back in Season II (2003). Corkins won $1,089,200 that year, and it was the first time a regular-season WPT event awarded at least $1 million to the winner.
Late entrant Jason Mercier (left) chats with Matt Glantz as he is about to take his seat for the first time during Level 2.
Mercier is widely recognized as one of the best poker players in the world, whether it's cash games, tournaments, or online. However, Mercier's impressive poker resume is missing one thing -- a WPT title. Mercier's best WPT finish came in this event last year, when he finished 11th.
With the board showing 4338 on the turn and facing heavy action, Nikolai Yakovenko (seat 2, in white) folds A2 face up -- the ace-high flush with a gutshot straight flush draw. It was the correct play, as one opponent showed 44 (flopped full house) and Peter Politano (seat 4, in black) turned over 33 for quad threes.
For Yakovenko, it was the wrong time to make the right play, as the river card was the 5 -- Yakovenko would have completed his straight flush to eliminate both players. If Yakovenko had stayed in the hand, it would have been a full house vs. quads vs. a straight flush.
Grant Lang played a pot with QJ, and caught the perfect flop. It came AK10 for a flopped royal flush -- the first of Lang's poker career. Lang and his opponent both checked the flop, but when Lang made a standard bet on the turn, his opponent folded. Lang had the best hand in poker, but all too often (as in this case), that doesn't leave much room for an opponent to have a hand worth paying it off.
Tony Dunst (a.k.a. "Bond18") steps away from his chair to check his cellphone. According to rules set by the Connecticut Gaming Commission, players may not use their cellphone while seated at the table. Dunst, who hosts the Raw Deal segment on the WPT's television show, survived the day with 32,750 in chips.
While bagging-and-tagging his chips at the end of the day, Jonathan Jaffe wrote down a special request for tomorrow's table draw.
Andy Frankenberger, who finished the day fourth in chips, was named the ClubWPT.com Player of the Day by Jessica Welman, who interviewed him in front of the WPT Champions Cup.
With 141 players surviving Day 1, here's a look at the top five from the leaderboard along with all of the surviving WPT winners heading into Day 2:
1. Tom Schreiber - 104,000
2. James Frangoulidis - 102,425
3. Peter Politano - 98,575
4. Andy Frankenberger - 90,200
5. Kathy Liebert - 90,000
19. Erik Seidel - 69,500
24. Dwyte Pilgrim - 63,400
30. Cornel Cimpan - 60,000
39. Jonathan Little - 51,700
40. Steve Brecher - 50,000
60. Hoyt Corkins - 38,075
62. Lee Markholt - 37,175
84. Jeff Forrest - 29,425
89. Alan Sternberg - 28,450
123. David Williams - 16,775
141. Will Failla - 3,600
Day 2 begins tomorrow (Friday) at 12:00 noon ET, and registration remains open until the cards are in the air. Return to WPT.com for live coverage throughout the day.
01:08 AM, 10/28/11