Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Travel Report: WPT Alpha8 Florida, Day 2 -- Florida Finale

The second and last day of the $100,000 buy-in World Poker Tour Alpha8 Florida event played out in relatively rapid fashion, with play starting a little after noon yesterday and wrapping up around 11 p.m. or thereabouts. Steven Silverman ended up winning the sucker, outlasting current WSOP Main Event chip leader J.C. Tran to take the title after a brief heads-up battle.

That up above is a shot Joe Giron took yesterday for the WPT from up in the bleachers looking down on the playing area I was describing before. Kind of an uncanny-looking scene from that vantage point.

Josh and I arrived and set up late morning, then mostly were behind the laptops entering hands, our day broken up a couple of times by breaks. One came early on after Bill Perkins busted in ninth, at which point the crew took some time setting up to shoot the official eight-handed final table. Then another short dinner break came later after start-of-day leader Matt Glantz busted in fourth for a “min-cash” of $243,180.

During that first break Josh and I took a walk around the Seminole Hard Rock property, taking a look at the modest water fountain show play out (kind of a mini-version of the Bellagio’s) while noting the small lizards positioned in the greenery around the water’s perimeter. With temps in the 80s it’s definitely a pleasant time to be in south Florida, and I can imagine a trip to the Seminole might offer a lot to entertain visitors with its sights, shopping, shows, and of course, the casino.

Following that second break for dinner Jeff Gross went out in third for a $364,770 cash. Silverman led Tran slightly to start heads-up play, and Tran even grabbed an early lead before Silverman earned a big double-up and then finished off Tran shortly thereafter. Tran took away $526,890 while “Zugwat” won $891,660. (Hell of a year playing out for Tran, eh?)

Silverman also won a huge trophy shaped as the number “8” -- not sure what it is made of, but it looks silver, man.

None of the four cashers had re-entered the event, and none of the three players who bought in twice cashed. Isaac Haxton was one of those who’d fired twice, and he unfortunately finished fifth after leading with five to go then experiencing some misfortune to fall on the bubble.

As I was saying earlier in the week, more Alpha8 events are certainly in the works, so it’ll be curious to see how this “super high roller” tour fares and whether it ultimately manages to attract the participation of those who regularly play the six-figure events elsewhere during the year.

After all was done and the final interviews were shot, the whole “WPT family” assembled around the table for a final group picture and before too long we were packing up and heading back to the hotel. Got a reasonable night’s sleep, then this morning was able to meet an old student of mine who lives in the area and had contacted me not long ago. Kind of a highlight of the trip to reunite and catch up with him.

Overall it was a fun few days and I got a kick out of getting to know some of the WPT folks and seeing how a yet another group -- an especially well-seasoned and talented one in this case -- puts on and covers a poker tourney.

Looking forward now to getting home and resting up today and tomorrow before flying to Spain on Friday where I’ll again see a lot of the players and other media folks who were here in Florida this week. I guess this was sort of an end-of-summer bash for a lot of folks, with “school” (or the regular curriculum) about to be back in session starting with the always popular EPT Barcelona stop.

Then again, to paraphrase that Emerson, Lake and Palmer quote on the wall at the Seminole Hard Rock, the traveling circus that is the professional poker tourney circuit is kind of the show that never ends.

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