Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Travel Report, NAPT Venetian: Day 4

To the Bellini Room“So, have you found the meaning yet?”

Asked of me by F-Train a couple of days ago as we criss-crossed between the tables at the North American Poker Tour Venetian Main Event. Don’t ask me which day it was. I’ve now reentered that familiar, what-day-is-this-what-does-the-sun-look-like-again zone one gets to know when reporting on these multi-day affairs.

F-Train’s question alluded back to some half-joking, half-serious something I’d said to him before about the need to find meaning. I thought a moment, then came up with a reply.

“I have,” I said with a grin. “But it’s private and no one would really understand it.”

F-Train got the joke contained in my non-answer, and with a chuckle we moved on in our separate searches for hands. And whatever else.

Yesterday I was pulled off the Main Event to go cover the first round of the $25,000 Bounty Shootout, an interesting change of pace. Day began early with some morning prep followed by the walk down to the Bellini Room where the event was to take place.

Arriving at the Bellini RoomThere I would find a stark contrast to the clamorous din of the first three days of the Main Event, mostly staged in an area sandwiched between the poker room, casino, and sportsbook. None of that traffic and noise for me yesterday, as I settled into the relatively tranquil conference room, here transformed into a television set, with cameras, boom mics, and the lot.

The first table was done in something like two-and-a-half hours, with Scott Seiver managing to knock out all six of his opponents, including two on one hand. The one-time WSOP bracelet winner (2008, $5,000 NLHE) earned $5,000 for each of the bounties, and another $75,000 for moving on to Thursday’s final.

At the neighboring table, Jennifer Tilly took a sizable lead early on, but would end up slipping and ultimately succumbing to Faraz Jaka who went on to defeat Annie Duke heads up. I covered Jaka in that Event No. 56 at last year’s WSOP, the $5,000 NLHE short-handed event won by Matt Hawrilenko in which Jaka finished third. A couple of weeks after that, Jaka made runner-up at the WPT Bellagio Cup which has been airing on the Fox Sports Network a lot here lately. I’ll take him as a favorite in the final.

The third afternoon table lasted about twice as long as the other two, with heads up between Hoyt Corkins and John Duthie extending for more than two hours. Corkins led most of the way, but Duthie had the advantage when Corkins sucked out a runner-runner flush to retake most of the chips, finishing off Duthie shortly thereafter.

NAPT Venetian $25K Bounty Shootout trophyTook about seven hours altogether to get through that first flight, leaving less than an hour break before the second group of four tables got underway. None of those saw a Seiver-like massacre, with each extending deep into the night. Finally, about six-and-a-half hours after they’d begun, the last winner -- Brett Richey -- moved through to the final to join Seiver, Jaka, Joe Cassidy, Ashton Griffin, and Peter Eastgate.

Had another hour or more of scribblin’ to take care of before I got out of there, interrupted somewhat from time to time by a friendly security guard asking all about the event. Was pretty tuckered when all was said and done, but got some rest and am once again looking forward to rejoining the Main Event coverage for today’s final table.

We’ll find out tonight which of the 872 players who entered the NAPT Venetian Main Event will leave the hero of the story, the one whom, in a way, it will have been all about. And everyone else will find his or her meaning in the sucker as well.

Dunno how long things will go tonight and I fly in the morning, so I’ll check back in here when I can. Meanwhile, you can see how it all turns out over at the PokerStars blog.

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