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Best of Vin Narayanan
Day 2 of NAPT Mohegan Sun a rollercoaster9 April 2010
UNCASVILLE, Connecticut -- Carnage. Upsetting. Grinding. They're three completely different words. Yet, depending on your vantage point, all three could describe Day 2 of the PokerStars.Net North American Poker Tour Mohegan Sun Main Event.
Thursday's action began at noon with 443 players remaining from a strong opening field of 716. By the time 7:30 rolled around, only 162 players were left. And when play ended at 9 p.m., 125 players were still alive. Carnage.
Daniel Negreanu was a victim of the bloodletting, bowing out of the tournament just before 5 p.m. on a tough beat. With close to 30,000 chips, Negreanu pushed all in and was called by Aaron Lerner. Negreanu turned up pocket jacks. Lerner had pocket sevens, and hit a seven on the river to send Negreanu home.
Prior to his elimination though, Negreanu was his usual chatty self, and he participated in one of the more insightful conversations of the day with Bill Chen.
First, the two players discussed the World Series of Poker moving from a $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament to a $50,000 Poker Player's Championship, which features mixed games and a no-limit Hold'em only final table.
Negreanu noted that the original $50,000 event had a no-limit Hold'em only final table, and that switching back to that concept was the right decision.
"The other games are too complicated to show on TV," Negreanu said. "Could you imagine how complicated it would be for the ESPN announcers to explain what someone was drawing to in Stud High-Low?"
The big H.O.R.S.E. tournament was not televised by ESPN last year, leading to a drop in participation.
"The sponsored players will only play in that tournament if it's on TV," Negreanu said. "They don't want to have to put up their own money for that event."
"And you want those players there," Chen added.
"Of course you want those players there," Negreanu added with a chuckle. "Most of them are donating."
The conversation then moved from the WSOP to limit poker.
"I love limit poker," Negreanu said. "You get way more physical tells in limit poker than in no-limit. In limit poker, players will play fast and just toss chips in there." Negreanu went on to physically demonstrate just how every hand was played at the same pace, making it hard to pick up tells.
Negreanu wasn't the only high-profile player to fall victim to the carnage. Chen, Jason Mercier, Gavin Griffin, Shaun Deeb, Brock Parker, 'Miami' John Cernuto, Hoyt Corkins, Gavin Smith and Brandon Cantu all exited the tournament Thursday.
Jordan Morgan finished Day 2 as the chip leader with 705,100. Firas Massouh (571,000) and Vanessa Selbst (542,600) were his closest competitors entering Day 3 action.
Vanessa Rousso ended the day with 145,300 in chips. But her journey to Day 3 took an odd twist. Rousso was down to around 30,000 chips when she pushed all in. Then chaos took over. Rousso heard Nicholas Conte say call and flipped over ace-king. Conte didn't reveal his cards, saying he'd said 22,000 and never said the word call. Players sitting on Rousso's side of the table for the most part heard just the call. Players sitting closer to Conte, including David Williams who was directly between Rousso and Conte, said they heard Conte saying 22,000, but not a call. The dealer said he heard call, and the tournament officals ruled a call had been made. Conte showed ace-ten and Rousso went on to win the hand. But she was visibly upset about what happened.
"I know I heard him say call first," Rousso said. "It's the only reason I turned over my hand."
"If I go on to win this tournament, I don't want it tainted by this hand," Rousso added.
(Reporter's note: From my vantage point -- about two feet behind the dealer -- I clearly heard Conte use the words call and 22,000. It was hard to hear him over the din of conversation and chips clacking, so I didn't hear the entire sentence. I thought he was saying "Is it 22,000 to call?" Bottom line: Conte didn't clearly announce his intentions, and you have to do that in poker or you pay the price.)
While Rousso was rebuilding her chip stack, another pro was grinding his way back into contention. Dennis Phillips, who started the morning as a guest on the Casino City Gang, found himself trying to climb back into contention after losing most of his chips during the first few hours of play Thursday.
"You missed the donk off," Phillips said with a wry smile. "But at least I'm still here." Phillips was still there. And in true Dennis Phillips style, he began accumulating chips again with a combination of timely and aggressive play. And when the night ended, he had 114,500 in chips, well above his starting stack of 28,100 for the day, and plenty enough to play with on Friday as players tried to move into contention for the $750,000 first prize.
Best of Vin Narayanan