WORLD POKER CLASSIC $500 No Limit Hold'em
by Mike Paulle
WORLD POKER CLASSIC
$500 No Limit Hold'em
Under New Management
The new Mike Laing with all his chips
Poker tournaments are about money, who gets how much. It's the player's cash. Who loses it, often, is as interesting as who wins it.
Tournaments aren't usual about redemption, recovery, and new starts. Tonight, this event was about those goals. Not strictly about the money, for a change .
It's not arguable that Mike Laing is a top-notch tournament poker player. With Mike's record, why isn't he in the Pro Poker Tour list? Laing is forthright ,as always, in his explanation for the PPT's exclusion. "Nobody wants to be around a drunk."
In all the years I've covered Mike Laing in tournaments, tonight was the first time I've seen him sober. There is a reason, and the reason has a name. Strike up the band in admiration for what James Sousa has done for Mike Laing. "He's in my stable now," James said as I congratulated him for his humanitarianism toward Laing.. "Put that in your article. Mike Laing is back. Under new management."
Barrick Gaming bought the Plaza hotel from Jackie Gaughn last year and they are making a strong commitment to poker with the World Poker Classic. Barrick is rolling back the cost of poker tournaments to pre-boom levels. The juice for this tournament is a paltry 8%. Five for the house and 3% for the dealers.
That means for the $500 No Limit tonight, the players paid a flat $500 and got back $460 of it in prize money. This makes tournaments a reasonable investment, again, for good players. Especially when the dead money is extracted from getting any of the prize pool. It's almost an overlay in comparison to most tournaments today.
With a first prize of 46 times the buy-in, the World Poker Classic deserves to be noticed by the poker community.
Recognition hasn't happened yet. The number of entries has been low. So low in fact that 'Downtown Poker Classic' would possibly have be too big a hype, as a name for this tournament.
For instance today's Ace-5 Lowball got three entries.
"It's the funniest thing I've seen in poker," the Wizard of West Hills said. Vince Burgio is telling me the story of the Lowball event. Three guys entered and after one was knocked out, they split it." "They made $700 each," tournament director Ben Magee added.
If Barrick can justify this kind of vigorish, the World Poker Classic will get noticed and it will draw. Old habits take time to change. For 35 years, this time slot was reserved for The World Series of Poker at Binion's Horseshoe. With the finest weather that Las Vegas can produce, from the middle of April to the middle of May, it's a shock to the system not to be heading everyday to the Horseshoe as I've done for so long.
Now there is no Horseshoe downtown, only Binion's--without any Binions.
Seat 1 Dan Williams Minneapolis MN 8,200
Seat 2 Mike Laing Franklin PA 49,400
Seat 3 Tony Rila Las Vegas NV 12,850
Seat 4 Nick Wong Los Angeles CA 9,150
Seat 5 Chris Tsiprailidis Syracuse NY 9,000
Seat 6 Ned Cruey Las Vegas NV 15,700
Seat 7 Ryan McGuire Henderson NV 17,450
Seat 8 Ding Gundayao Las Vegas NV 3,850
Seat 9 Rex Ziller Las Vegas NV 28,400
59 minutes left in the 75 ante, 300/600 blinds.
No one could complain about the cost or the structure. The players did complain about the number of chips they started with, however. 1,000 in chips with 25/25 blinds managed to eliminate over 60 of the 154 starters in the first hour. A called 150 unit bet often got the combatants pot-committed on the turn. So all-in bets were frequent even at the comparatively low levels.
There were few important hands in this event's Final Table. The most amazing hand wasn't a knockout. Syracuse Chris Tsiprailidis somehow managed to avoid going all-in with the shortest stack at the table when he flopped trip 9's. Ned Cruey, behind Chris, also flopped trip 9's and Ned hit his kicker on the turn for a full house. This outstanding read by Chris should have netted him more than the $700 he got for 7th rather than 8th, but who said life was fair?
First out was the clear short stack starter, Ding Gundayao. He called all-in when Dan Williams bet out first with the flop of Q 10 8. Gundayao called off all his chips on the flop with A K. Ding! Dan Williams had A Q and top pair.
In 8th, Nick Wong was wronged on the river by Ryan McGuire. Nick didn't have many chips left and sailed his case 4,100 pot-ward with A K under the gun. Ryan had the A J of Diamonds and McGuire weaved a web of doom for Wong with a tragic three-out Jack on the river.
After his spectacular missed elimination, Chris Tsiprailidis left in 7th a little richer with his A J was crushed by a dominated A 4 for Ryan McGuire until a 4 came on board.
Now it was Ned Cruey's turn to take someone out. A call from the super tight Cruey is like a raise from anyone else. Dan Williams only had two moves all day. Either muck or go all-in. He was successful going all-in several times. It was when he started betting that he got into trouble. A 2k bet pre-flop and a 3k bet on the flop were both called by Ned Cruey. I like HIS hand. Ned had A J to Dan's A 7. The Jack played and Dan stopped playing in 6th.
The Jack knife cut both ways for young Ryan McGuire. Ryan's express chugged out the station when he sucked out on Nick Wong with the A J. But it was an A J against Ryan's big slick that retrieved the chips from Ryan's stack. When a Jack came on the flop, McGuire swung and missed. Then all-in from early position with A 2 offsuit and 8,800, Ryan was called by Tony Rila in the big blind with K Q. Tony flopped a pair.
Four handed, Ned Cruey said, "Should we chop it four ways?" Mike Laing called James Sousa, his jockey, over to let the backer decide. Sousa cleared the chop. Rex Ziller was undecided until the others offered him the title as chip leader. "It's important to me," Ziller said.
Last in the program, but first on the list. Rex Ziller
What's important is that Mike Laing is getting support from people who care about him.
Rex Ziller, Mike Laing, Tony Rila and Ned Cruey each $12,255 with Ziller getting the title.
5. Ryan McGuire $4,250
6. Dan Williams $3,540
7. Chris Tsiprailidis $2,330
8. Nick Wong $2,120
9. Ding Gundayao $1,420
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