Got to enjoy a terrific dinner at the Bella Vita Italian restaurant in Jacksonville with several WPT folks as well as some who’ll be playing in the tournament, too. Jon (who snapped that photo) and Eric of the WPT were there, as were Royal Flush girls Jeannie and Danielle. Aaron Massey, Marvin Rettenmaier, Jake Schwartz, and Joe Kuether -- all of whom will be playing in the event -- were part of the crowd, too. Also got to meet and chat some with the friendly Deb Giardina, VP of Poker Operations at bestbet Jacksonville.
I had the Zuppa De Pesce, an enormous plate full of linguini topped with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, and calamari. Could only really handle about half of what was served, although I did manage to save room for some cheesecake afterwards.
At one point Jon quizzed the players about their biggest cashes, with Rettenmaier of course having the most impressive response. “One-point-two?” he said, alluding to his nearly $1.2 million win in the WPT World Championship in 2012.
Kuether, Schwartz, and Massey all have some pretty notable scores among their results, too. Kuether has several six-figure cashes. Schwartz took runner-up in a WSOP event this summer for over $200K. And Massey -- who I remember first meeting in 2011 at the WSOP when he final tabled a $1K for one of his first big cashes of about $44K -- now is nearing $1.5 million in tourney winnings.
There was talk about a trip to Disney World if they can survive Day 1a and thus avoid having to play tomorrow’s second and last Day 1 flight. Rettenmaier just visited Disneyland like a couple of days ago, in fact. I guess Disney World is around two-and-a-half hours from here, so that Disney double could be accomplished if the cards go the right way.
Was a nice, relaxing pregame for what will be five solid days of reporting starting at noon today. Has been a little while since my last live reporting gig as I haven’t been anywhere since the Lima trip in July. Should be enjoyable working with the WPT crew again as well as with others like Mickey, Josh, Will, and eventually Joe Giron with whom I’ve worked many times in the past.
WPT live updates for today’s Day 1a to see who comes out and who makes it through. Depending on how things go, perhaps we’ll see Mad Marvin wearing the Mickey Mouse ears come Day 2.