Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Travel Report: PokerStars Festival New Jersey, Day 1 -- Main Events and World Serieses

Was a fun, not-too-stressful day helping cover the first Day 1 flight of the PokerStars Festival New Jersey Main Event at the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City yesterday.

The turnout for the $1,100 tournament was modest (81 players), and while there ought to be considerably more for today’s Day 1b I don’t think the bar has been set too high as far as expectations go. Kind of an early run of the Festival format, I think, plus just getting back in the U.S. is a big step for Stars regardless.

During the evening one interesting side story was both the World Series of Poker and the baseball World Series happening on the big screens around the tournament area. (I know, the correct plural for “series” is of course simply “series,” but it’s more fun to be less serious and say “serieses.”)

Since the Cubs jumped out to that big lead versus the Indians to force a do-or-die Game 7 tonight, the attention was drawn more so to the last night of the WSOP Main, especially thanks to all the fireworks early on with Cliff Josephy doubling up, then Gordon Vayo doubling through him, then Josephy’s attempts to get back into things before busting on the 16th hand of the night.

Kind of a funny moment during the last break of play here, as the players were drawn to watch the crazy set-over-set hand between Josephy and Vayo, making it necessary to extend the break by a few minutes in order for them to see it through. That’s a hastily-snapped shot above of players watching it play out.

We finished before midnight and so I got back to the room to watch a little more of that crazily long heads-up between Vayo and Qui Nguyen. Then I slept with the television on, waking occasionally to crown noise whenever Vayo would double-up again. Was fully awake to see the conclusion this morning -- it ended around 6:30 a.m. here on the east coast -- and Nguyen’s victory.

From what I could tell, Nguyen played a bold style throughout the final table and presented lots of challenges to the others, making his win seem well deserved even if he did run well by picking up big hands in key spots along the way.

And even though I didn’t sit and study every single one of the 384 final table hands this time, I watched enough to appreciate ESPN’s coverage, which is probably just about as good as it could possibly be at this point.

Back at it here in New Jersey in a little while. Check the PokerStars blog to see how the Main Event they have going here continues to play out.

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