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WPT at Bellagio
CEO "Rocket Boy" 12.18.2007

This may or may not be a yearly trip for me. Getting a little bored with the WPT thing now, thanks to all that waiting in line. But hey, the price is right. Just make sure you get to the final table taping venue at least 3 hours before they open the doors on the day. Even if you're first in line, there's no guarantee you'll get in. Last year a huge crush of VIPs, family and friends of players, and friends of friends of players marched in just as the doors opened. They took up at least half the seats.

But that was to be expected since Negreanu and Hachem were in the final 6. Lots of fans. This year not so much. The most famous player was Devilfish, and he didn't bring much of an entourage.

The Place
The first few days of the event were played out in the slot machine forest instead of the Fontana lounge. Fontana had been converted into a temporary high-limit Baccarat room while the real Baccarat room was being remodeled. So a few hundred slots near the actual poker room were uprooted and replaced with poker tables and a velvet rope. I brought my camera again, and I guess I will for all the events I rail from now on.

Gus Hansen taking voice notes

Erick Lindgren and the adorable Lizzy Harrison

The Production
The final table taping had almost exactly the same look and feel as last year. Same set, same producer, same director, same cameramen, same Mike and Vince, same tournament directors (Jack McLelland and Linda Johnson), different hostess. Layla Kayleigh is the new WPT gal and I think she's going to last more than one season. I had a bad feeling about Sabina and I was right. But Layla has got it goin' on. She has a professional delivery but with more energy than Courtney had. She has a British accent and exotic looks so she's no "girl next door" like Shana or Sabina. She's beautiful, intelligent, and European but she's still approachable and down-to-earth. All of which makes her an incredible hottie.

I managed to get a few shots of her on one of the breaks. She's a nice gal, knows very little about poker, and she looks better in real life than in any pix or video.

Layla Kayleigh. Wow.

The Players
The players, their seats, and their starting stacks:
seat 1: Ken Rosen (1,135,000)
seat 2: Ted Kearly (1,620,000)
seat 3: Jordan Rich (6,585,000)
seat 4: Eugene Katchalov (8,360,000)
seat 5: Ryan Daut (330,000)
seat 6: David "Devilfish" Ulliott (1,900,000)

I had watched these guys play for a few days, and I'd seen them in quite a few hands, which gave me an impression of their playing styles. Daut and Ulliott were the most experienced players at the table, each having previously won a WPT event. Daut was focused and quiet, a stone killer. He had previously doubled up with AA through Negreanu's KK, but going into the final 6 he was drastically short-stacked. He would need to pick a spot, shove, and hope to double up.

Ken Rosen, one of the amateurs at the table, seemed to be a little excitable, shouting more than anyone else, and possibly steaming just from the pressure. Ted Kearly seemed to be the rock at the table, but that gave him more cred if he tried any steals. Jordan Rich, on the other hand, seemed to be the mad bomber of the field. He was quiet, calm, and a relentless bettor in preliminary play. Eugene Katchalov was equally quiet, but seemed to be a little less of a crazy bluffer than Rich.

The Play
Sure enough, Ryan Daut moved in on the first hand with AJ. Everyone folded to Ted, who quietly called with 88. 852 on the flop and the case 8 on the turn gave Ted quads. Ryan was drawing stone dead on the river. They both played correctly and that's how the cards came out. The dealer shipped it to Uncle Ted and we were down to 5 players in the first minute of play.

Jordan Rich just kept losing pots. He had been the chip leader by a huge margin the day before, but he'd made a bad call to double up Eugene Katchalov. That lost him the chip lead, and I don't believe he ever won another big pot. His stack size dropped from 2nd to 3rd and leaked chips just as steadily as he'd won them the previous few days.

Meanwhile, Eugene kept winning hands. Jordan must have gone on tilt when he folded to Eugene after putting roughly 2 million chips into the pot. A few hands later Jordan re-raised Eugene to 1 million, then called all-in after Eugene put him in. Unfortunately for Jordan (and everyone else at the table) his JJ had run into Eugene's AA. The board was all kaka, Jordan busted out in 5th, and Eugene was now officially the Superstack with more than two thirds of all the chips in play 4-handed.

Not looking good for Devilfish, Ted, and Ken. Three hands later, Eugene knocked out Ken in 4th. Eugene's T7 rivered a ten against Ken's A2. We were down to 3 players in less than one hour of play.

Ted put a beat on Eugene, which was practically the only hand Eugene lost. Ted doubled up when his QJ outflopped Eugene's A4 on the KJ47K board. Despite that, Eugene still had almost 14 million so it changed nothing for him. On the other hand, Devilfish was the short stack now, and he got cold decked: his AT failed to suck out on Eugene's AJ. Devilfish's attempt to win a second WPT event had ended.

Devilfish clowning with the vision of hotness that is Kimberly Lansing

The Godfather of Poker himself made a brief appearance. Layla and her camera crew rushed over to interview him. The producers were probably grateful that Doyle was there. So few hands were played that they needed to add content to fill up the two hour time slot.

Layla interviews Doyle

Real hotties with fake money

So, we were down to heads-up play after only about 2 hours. And it didn't look like it would go for much longer. Eugene had about 17 million to Ted's 3 million. And just a few hands into heads-up play Ted folded after he'd put over 1 million into the pot. He had less than 2 million left and the blinds were around 50K/100K. He moved in with KJ on a T63 flop, Eugene called with JT for top pair. The turn and river bricked out, and we were done in just 2.5 hours after a record low 53 hands. It was only about 6:45pm.

Here's what everyone won:
1. Eugene Katchalov: $2,482,605
2. Ted Kearly: $1,252,640
3. David Ulliott: $674,500
4. Ken Rosen: $433,675
5. Jordan Rich: $289,070
6. Ryan Daut: $192,715

This won't be the most compelling WPT episode you'll ever see. Still, I'm glad I went and had the experience. Oh, and one more thing: when you play poker at Bellagio, don't ever use the front valet on the strip. Use the north valet on Via del Nord, just off of Flamingo between Caesar's and Bellagio. The north valet entrance is much closer to the poker room and you just might see cars like the one below. Can you guess which poker player owns this Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren? (Hint: his name is Phil.)

The world's fastest automatic

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