25/02/2005

WPT Invitational, Los Angeles
Report by Joe on Friday, 25 February 2005 at 12:50 am

Last year when we came to LA we stayed at the Commerce Casino itself. The rooms were pretty decent and it was great to be at the venue with all the facilities. This year we booked a little late and with every event on the calendar becoming more popular and staging bigger fields we couldn’t get the reservations we wanted. We had to stay at the Wyndham Commerce which is ok but not as nice and although only a couple of blocks away it isn’t nearly as convenient.

So when you bust out of a four day event on day one you have a few choices. The hire a car and get out and see LA etc was one but was wasted on Ram, Ross and I. For the last few days we have probably played more online poker than we have in the whole of 2005, (well maybe not Ram). So when we were invited to the Pro Celebrity Charity event at the Spider Club hosted by All In magazine we were happy to accept. They tried to fit a couple of hundred Hollywood Celebrities and a hundred or so poker players into a tournament that only had 6 tables. Even with Matt Savage as tournament director chaos ensued. It took a while longer than expected to get going and with the crowds and all the noise Matt had his work cut out.

I can remember going to see Danny Gans (an American Mike Yarwood with bells) at the Rio in Vegas a few years ago and half the jokes were wasted on me as I’m not that familiar with American TV and its stars. It was similar here; hundreds of famous faces, but who were they all? Most were TV stars from shows like West Wing. I chatted to Mimi Rogers for a while, who reminded me that I knocked her out of the WPC in Dublin with ‘those aces’ – I like her, she’s very down to earth and laughs a lot. Jennifer Tilley was there as was Debbie Gibson who I once saw in Grease playing Olivia Newton John at the Dominian Theatre in Tottenham Court Road. Apart from that though there were few familiar non poker people.

The following morning we were back in real action for the WPT Pro-celebrity Invitational at the Commerce Casino. On my table were Scott Fischman, Richard Brodie, Dan Harrington, Eric ‘Edub’ and on my left was Jack McClelland; too many familiar faces and not enough celebrities with ‘easy chips’. Richard went out on the second hand when his pocket Kings were busted by a set of Jacks which belonged to one of the faces I didn’t recognise. You start this event with 10,000 in chips and the blinds at only 50/100 but the levels are only 30 minutes.

Jack was telling us about the extension that the Bellagio Poker Room is building. They are adding 10 tables and are building out towards where the box office for ‘O’ is. The cost of this extension?…a mere $5.2 Million. When asked why they were spending so much money Jack replied, ‘because they can!’

There were 236 entries and play would be down to six today, about 14 levels as Jack forecast. I clashed in a few pots mostly with Scott or Eric and I was happy when the table broke as the only two faces that I now recognised on my table were Padraig and the girl from American Pie. Ross however got of to a great start doubling up when he knocked out actor James Woods.

At the break I bumped into Mimi Rogers again who told me that it’s no good trying to bluff ‘these celebrities’ because ‘they just don’t know how to pass’. I later found myself on a table with five women, including Mimi, Jennifer Harmon and a Russian supermodel who I think was called Natasha. I was the only sober person on the table! Kenna James on my left was in great spirits but it was Jennifer who was the ring leader and who was ordering shots for everyone. The bottle of Grey Goose and the bottle of Tequila arrived and it was like a rowdy home game with everyone doing shots at the same time. There was lots of shouting and cheering and Kenna even did a ‘Marcel’ and broke into song as he moved all in - it should make good TV.

I eventually bust out with about 50 players left leaving Ross as sole remaining Mobster. He went close until Johann Storakers knocked him out in 16th spot. Johann was chip leader going into the final six televised stage.

We are here for another couple of days doing media commitments and then we move onto San Diego for the WSOP Circuit event...