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September 27, 2006  
2006 Randy Saylor  

September 25: Pro-Am Equalizer Tournament Begins Play

Main sponsor Full Tilt Poker an the ABC Television Network brought 24 professional poker players together will twelve amateurs for an interesting tournament format. The South Coast Casino in Las Vegas was the site of the double shootout tournament, to be aired starting November 11.

The double shootout format starts with six tables of six players each (four pros and two celebrities at each table). Only the winner of each table advances to the final. The six finalists will compete for a $500,000 first prize and a $150,000 second prize. The remainder of the final table receives $25,000.

The six matchups for first table play are (professionals listed first):
1) Erick Lindgren, Phil Ivey, John Juanda, Daniel Negreanu, Jose Canseco, Cheryl Hines.
2) Johnny Chan, Mike Matusow, Shawn Sheikhan, Gus Hansen, Nicholas Gonzalez, Yancey Arias.
3) Clonie Gowen, David Williams, Ted Forrest, Allen Cunningham, Jennifer Tilly, Penn Jillette.
4) Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Phil Laak, Jennifer Harman, Cindy Margolis, Jeremy Sisto.
5) Gabe Kaplan, Gavin Smith, Andy Bloch, Erik Seidel, Shannon Elizabeth, Don Cheadle.
6) Jamie Gold, Huck Seed, Jeff Madsen, David Benyamine, Shana Hiatt, Jason Alexander.

Fans of poker on television will note that many of the “amateurs” aren’t bad players in their own right. Jennifer Tilly holds a World Series of Poker bracelet in the ladies-only event, and Shana Hiatt is no stranger to the game from her years as World Poker Tour co-host.

The “equalizer” is put into play to handicap the professional poker players. While they each begin with 100,000 chips, the amateurs start with 50 per cent more. Blinds start at 1500/3000 and increase every 20 minutes.

The six preliminary events will be aired on November 11, 12, 18, 19, 26, and December 3 and 17. The final will be shown December 23.

To avoid spoiling the results for those who wish to watch on television, I have noted the first-day results at the end of this article.

September 25: WCOOP Event 11

The fixed-limit Seven Card Stud tournament hosted the smallest (to date) field of this year’s WCOOP, drawing 657 entrants. Buy-in was $300+20, and the prize pool of $197,100 almost doubled the guarantee.

The fixed limit format of stud games means that the tournament took almost twelve hours to complete despite the small field.

After all but two players were eliminated, the final two decided on a chip count deal, leaving an extra $5000 for the winner. The eventual winner, nikstar, forged a big lead over Sassenage, and then check-called the final hand until Sassenage had bet his last chip. The QJ3 shown by nikstar was matched by a QJ in the hole. Sassenage only had king high and was unable to improve. First place paid $39,548 and second place earned $33,517.

September 25: World Series Television Update

We’re talking about the World Series of Poker, of course. The baseball version is still a month away. The WSOP Main Event final table has finally been aired by ESPN. Expect repeats to be shown regularly.

Spoiler Warning: If you are intending to watch the Pro-Am Equalizer tournaments on television, you might want to avoid the recaps below!

September 25: Pro-Am Equalizer Table One

Daniel Negreanu took the early exit from this star-studded table. His pocket fours lost a race to Phil Ivey’s AJ when Ivey turned a flush. John Juanda went out a few hands after losing a big pot to Erick Lindgren.

Jose Canseco (retired Major League Baseball player) got into a race with 77 against Phil Ivey’s A8. The T88 flop put Canseco in a huge hole that he couldn’t get out of. Cheryl Hines (plays the wife of Larry David on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) followed her fellow amateur to the rail when her 66 lost a race to Ivey’s A9.

Ivey had a 5-2 lead at the start of heads-up play and induced a call from Lindgren with AT. Ivey held TT, neither player improved, and Ivey advanced to the final table.

September 25: Pro-Am Equalizer Table Two

Actors Yancey Arias and Nicholas Gonzalez used their extra starting chips to their advantage early on. Arias knocked out Gus Hansen, then Mike Matusow, in short order after extremely aggressive play early on. Gonzalez knocked out Johnny Chan with pocket tens over pocket nines.

The two amateurs began a heads-up duel that lasted more than 70 hands. Arias moved all-in preflop with AJ and got a call from Gonzalez’s KT. The ten on the flop made Gonzalez the first amateur to advance to the final table of six.


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