All you need to know about NAPT Las Vegas…
Sami Bechahed wins NAPT Las Vegas Main Event
In the end you could say it came down to one hand for Sami Bechahed. One big hand. One colossal tournament deciding hand.
But put another way, you could say it came down to the return of the NAPT to Las Vegas which was 12 years in the making.
Not that Bechahed is interested in the distinction. He just won the NAPT Las Vegas Main Event, and a first prize of $268,945.
Let’s just revisit that hand for a second.
The pot itself would amount to 11,655,000 chips and be contested by Bechahed and Ping Liu.
Bechahed found pocket nines, black ones, and raised from the small blind. Liu had queens and raised, getting the call for a flop that brought the all-important third nine.
There was now only one way it would go.
The hand busted Liu in fourth, moments after Sergio Aido had departed in fifth after an extended stalemate. It left Bechahed with an enormous lead. When he sent David Coleman to the rail in third, heads up play against Borenstein would last only a few minutes.
Bechahed’s title is a first for the NAPT for a while, but marks his own continued success.
In a relatively short career in poker that started five years ago Bechahed has had three six-figure scores, including a WSOP circuit event almost exactly a year ago.
His NAPT title adds to that burgeoning resume and takes his career earnings to well past the $1 million mark.
Runner-up Jonathan Borenstein came close, but always had an uphill challenge to overcome the huge advantage.
Bechahed found himself with an enormous lead, made even greater when he sent David Coleman to the rail in third.
But it proved a well-earned runner-up finish for the American and a payout worth $168,175.
He’d shoved with ten-nine off-suit for just under 4 million chips on the fourth hand of heads-up play.
Bechahed called with ace-ten off-suit for what would be the decider.
A ten on the flop only helped Bechahed. The ace on the turn helped him even more. There was no coming back.
You can read the full story of the final table, and how it played out hand by hand, over on PokerNews.
And below the payouts that conclude a great week of poker, and a welcome return to a Tour that should not have to wait as long for its next outing.
1st. Sami Bechahed (United States) $268,945
2nd. Jonathan Borenstein (United States) $168,175
3rd. David Coleman (United States) $120,130
4th. Ping Liu (United States) $92,410
5th. Sergio Aido (Spain) $71,080
6th. Nick Schulman (United States) $54,680
7th. Sandeep Pallampati (United States) $42,060
Check out all the Main Event payouts here.
Samuel Laskowitz wins High Roller for $180K
Samuel Laskowitz from New York took down the $5,300 buy-in North American Poker Tour High Roller to close out this incredible festival. Laskowitz picked up $180,850 and lifted the trophy after defeating a field of 150 entries at Resorts World Las Vegas.
Trailing only Jesse Lonis when the final six players gathered on the PokerStars TV feature table, Laskowitz was one of the favorites to win the prestigious title.
The final day saw four players ladder quickly after Alex Condon busted with sevens against Lonis’ jacks and John Andress with king-five against Shannon Shorr’s sevens.
Laskowitz paced the contest but later hit an inferior straight versus Lonis, who restored his initial lead.
Moreover, Lonis then looked down at pocket jacks again and provided another elimination, this time at the expense of John Riordan, whose top pair with ten-nine did not improve.
But Lonis, who had won the $10,000 Super High Roller earlier this week, would not make it a double victory here at NAPT Las Vegas. Laskowitz took a big pot off Lonis, forcing him to fold a better hand.
While it was not the last change in pole position, Laskowitz would come out on top again. He finally dismissed Lonis in third place with ace-deuce against ace-six for seven big blinds, hitting two of his outs on the board.
Shortly thereafter, Laskowitz eliminated his final opponent. Shorr put his last 11 big blinds into play with queen-ten only to get called by king-ten suited. A blank board cemented Laskowitz’s triumph.
“It makes me feel like I belong and that I can play at this level and succeed,” Laskowitz told PokerNews after his victory. He summed up his NAPT-winning performance as: “A lot of hard work and good luck.”
NAPT LAS VEGAS HIGH ROLLER RESULTS
1st – Samuel Laskowitz, USA, $180,850
2nd – Shannon Shorr, USA, $113,030
3rd – Jesse Lonis, USA, $80,740
4th – John Riordan, USA, $62,105
5th – John Andress, USA, $47,770
6th – Alexander Condon, USA, $36,745
Reporting by Jan Kores.
Gold Pass winner Trevor Woods tells his High Roller Story
There was something Trevor Woods said to the TV camera as he got ready for his High Roller exit video.
“If I look like a poker player, and act like a poker player, I must be one.”
He meant it as a half serious remark as he was miked up ready to speak to camera. But it was fitting of the moment.
Trevor, who won a Gold Pass on PokerStars, may just have busted from the high roller. But he’d more than proved himself by playing the best poker of his life against some of the best players in the game.
Now he was dealing with the familiar sting of elimination, made worse by what could have been. It was written on his face as he replayed hands in his mind.
But an event like a high roller can only hurt you if you’re playing it. Something not lost on Trevor, who was leaving with more than just a story.
“I was surprised how comfortable I felt,” he said.
Remember, this is a man whose biggest event prior to this had a £100 buy in.
“I dropped a few chips at the beginning. But once you pick up a hand…”
He explained what happened on day one, when he’s been among the leaders.
“I was coasting, in the top ten,” he said. “Then I took a beat.”
He’d been contesting a few pots with the player that took a bunch of his chips. He’d amassed close to 200,000 but lost a big chunk. He’d been telling himself to fold for the last half hour of the day but found some hands irresistible.
It happened like this.
He’d found ace queen and made top pair on the flop. Then made top two on the turn. But the river made his opponent a straight, and Trevor knew it.
“I had to call that,” he said.
In his place you might have made the same decision. Or not. It all comes down to experience and the situation. One of those impossible moments that can make or break your tournament.
But still, when you look like a poker player, and act like a poker player, it means you must be one. And poker players don’t like busting.
“I’m gutted,” he said. “But just being here is something. It was like an opening to another world.”
Ultimately it had been, as Trevor put it, “a rush of blood to the head” that saw him bust.
But it doesn’t have to end today.
Trevor is a Red Spade Pass winner so will be enjoying the big race next week along with his partner. And as far as poker is concerned, well he has some Power Path tickets to use up.
“I’ll be spinning those up more and more,” he said. “I’ll definitely try to win another one.”
Live stream reminder
Saturday November 11
13:00 PT / 16:00 ET / 22:00 CET
NAPT LAS VEGAS: $1,650 MAIN EVENT – FINAL TABLE
Sunday November 12
13:00 PT / 16:00 ET / 22:00 CET
NAPT LAS VEGAS: $5K HIGH ROLLER – FINAL TABLE
Coverage on our central/global channels (YouTube and Twitch) will be hosted by James Hartigan, Joe Stapleton, Maria Ho, Griffin Benger and Nick Walsh – with special guests.
There will also be a Brazilian-Portuguese language stream on our BR channels.
Final table player profiles
We have reached a final seven. Here’s how they line up.
Seat 1: Sami Bechahed, Costa Mesa, CA, USA – 10,570,000
Sami Bechahed only started collecting live tournament cashes in July 2018, but a top five finish in the NAPT Main Event would propel him over the $1 million mark in live poker earnings. But as chip leader Bechahed is aiming higher.
He’s already nabbed three six-figure scores in his five-year career. Two of those came from sub-$400 buy-in tournaments in Los Angeles; a runner-up finish among 5,302 entries and a victory in a 3,065-entrant field.
In addition to that, Bechahed claimed $274,916 for his win in the WSOP Circuit Dallas/Oklahoma Main Event in November 2022.
Seat 2: Nick Schulman, New York City, NY, USA – 4,390,000
With nearly $17 million in live tournament winnings, Nick Schulman is arguably the most experienced player on the final table.
Schulman is used to playing big buy-in tournaments and high-stakes cash games in Las Vegas. Formerly a pool player, the 39-year-old first came to poker spotlight when he conquered the WPT Finals event for $2,167,500. That result from November 2005 remains Schulman’s top score, but he’s still one of the most dominant and versatile players in the world.
He boasts four WSOP bracelets from three games: NL 2-7 draw, PLO8, and 7-Card Stud. Moreover, he has a complex experience with live-streamed tables, being a successful player as well as expert commentator.
Seat 3: Ping Liu, Grand Blanc, MI, USA – 3,095,000
Ping Liu’s first reported live tournament payout came in October 2011. Since then, he’s accrued more than $2.5 million in winnings. His biggest was a $599,147 payday for fourth place in the 2018 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic.
Liu has picked up a few other six-figure prizes over the years, including $156,100 for running deep in this year’s WSOP Main Event (58th place). While he’s been to several big final tables, he has just three outright victories on his pedigree.
The latest came just last week: he took down a $5k PokerGO event for $89,600. In the NAPT Main Event, his run was almost over shortly before the two-table redraw. He needed to spike one of two remaining aces in the deck with one card to come to double through Je Wook Oh. A “Barry Greenstein river” indeed saved him.
Seat 4: David Coleman, Livingston, NJ, USA – 1,610,000
David Coleman is used to competing against the best players in the world, having attended several high-stakes tournament series in recent years. That is also where he got his top prizes on the live circuit, which helped him push his career winnings to over $2.7 million.
Coleman has nine six-figure payouts, including two runner-up finishes in $50,000 events run by PokerGO. Interestingly, Coleman’s Hendon Mob profile lacks an outright victory; he boasts six second places and three third.
This year, he hasn’t had a standout result yet; his top prize was $76,470, but that only tripled the entry fee to a high buy-in tournament in Florida.
Seat 5: Sandeep Pallampati, Secaucus, NJ, USA – 4,300,000
Sandeep Pallampati comes from New Jersey but is planning a move to Las Vegas – a final table in the NAPT Main Event speeding up the relocation process.
“This will help,” he says.
While Pallampati is not a professional poker player, he spends a lot of time grinding mid-stakes tournaments and live cash games. As a data scientist, he has a fitting background to be able to excel in the game. Saturday will be the biggest day for him at a poker table.
“I’m planning to keep laddering one place at a time, but if there is a spot, I’m taking it,” he says.
This might not be the only time we’ll see him on the NAPT circuit. Pallampati likes to travel and naturally prefers to combine his trips with poker action. He enjoys riding a Harley and certainly enjoys riding the wave of success as well.
Seat 6: Sergio Aido, Aviles, Spain – 6,670,000
The only non-American NAPT Main Event finalist hails from Spain. Sergio Aido is a globally recognized player on the poker map. Closing in on $16 million in live tournament earnings, Aido sits in second place on the Spanish all-time money list, trailing only Adrian Mateos.
Aido’s first reported live cash came in July 2012. Less than a year later, he emerged as the UKIPT London Main Event champion for £144,555. Aido’s professional career took off from there and, by 2016, he was competing in the largest buy-in tournaments around the world.
The 35-year-old’s biggest payday, €1,589,190, came four years ago when he conquered the €100,000 Super High Roller at EPT Monte Carlo. Just like most of the elite Spanish pros, Aido has a strong online background too. Known as “zcedrick” at PokerStars, he became a WCOOP 6-Max champion last year.
Seat 7: Jon Borenstein, Teaneck, NJ, USA – 2,200,000
Jonathan Borenstein has already been to PokerStars branded-tour final table. In 2015, he finished 7th in the LAPT Bahamas Main Event for $51,540. Today, that prize represents only a fraction of Borenstein’s winnings.
He’s accumulated $2.3 million in cashes through a decade of live circuit grind. He has four six-figure payouts, setting a new career high in January with a $368,324 score in a $5k tournament in Atlantic City.
Borenstein’s previous three $100k+ results, however, came in small buy-in events, indicating his prowess in large player fields. Perhaps the biggest testament to that is his 8th place in the massive Collossus event, in which he outlasted more than 21,000 entrants.
Photo Credit: Joe Giron, PokerStars
Turning Gold into Green?
While the Main Event continues, there’s a baptism of fire for several players over in the high roller event.
For Red Spade Pass winners, it’s a chance to test themselves against some of the best players in the game.
For some it’s a test to have their first live experience in a big tournament environment like this.
For others it’s about proving something to themselves.
Three players who fit those descriptions have taken their seats today. Stuart Langridge, Shawn Blair, and Trevor Woods.
Each is here after winning a Gold Pass to Las Vegas on PokerStars, but each has a very different story.
Shawn Blair spoke to us prior to setting out to Las Vegas from North Bay, Ontario. A trainee teacher, he’s been playing poker for years and this year won the ONCOOP Main Event.
Part of that prize was a trip to the NAPT.
You can read the full interview with Shawn here, which includes how he managed to win his title using the worst hand in poker.
Trevor Woods, from Leicester in the UK, has been playing cards all his life. He started the steep poker learning curve online, almost as soon as the game was available on the internet.
“I soon realised that gamblers cannot win long term.”
Now he sticks to low stakes games, just for fun. He’s come close to qualifying for an event before, but nothing like this.
The biggest game he played in before today had a £100 buy-in.
“The power path is wonderful,” he said. “A fresh start every day. I have spun a few up to $11 and on one occasion I could not miss, simply coasted to the $109 ticket. Then it was like a dream, getting playable hands when I needed to make a move. Hitting cards when in danger. Unbelievable.
Trevor, a qualified electrician, has overcome his fair share of obstacles.
“Challenges in my life is basically my false leg,” he said. But as long as I keep working, I will claim victory in that one.”
As for the trip he’s got his eyes set on a modest goal, but one any inexperienced player might find sympathetic.
“Vegas is a dream that we will enjoy, not had a proper holiday since I cannot remember.
“All I want from the tournament is to be good when I get my chips in, do not want to get knocked out making a stupid call.”
Stuart Langridge, 55, is from Coventry in the UK, with two grown up daughters back home. He’s been playing poker for more than 20 years, mainly at his local casinos in Coventry and Walsall, as well as on PokerStars.
“Had some decent results but on low limit buy ins. This is undoubtedly my best result so far as far as value goes!”
“A great result in this tournament would be a visit to day 3, I’m aiming to make the money, I feel I have the ability to do that but we’ll have to wait and see if I’m right!”
Then there’s Maureen Bloechlinger, who made a few headlines with her win, being a big advocate for women in poker in her native Switzerland.
“My grandmother had a video poker machine so I learned the hand rankings.
“I started playing tournaments for real money in Switzerland and my first event was in Grand Casino Baden. Luckily, the floor man was friendly and told me about their schedule and I started playing nightly games there.
Maureen has been ranked top Swiss Female Players every year since 2017 (and is leading the race this year).
“I also engage in projects that empower Women in Poker and would love to see the number of women increase.”
A former part of the corporate world she now takes on roles promoting poker, opening a poker club in Davos. Online she targets the live events scene, taking advantage of Power Path, which is now available in Switzerland.
“I was planning to play [Power Path] to try to qualify for EPT Cyprus or EPT Prague. I then saw a post on Facebook advertising special added value for Las Vegas NAPT and then started to play them more often since October. I plan to continue to play them in the future.”
“I think the field for the NAPT High Roller will be tougher than the Main Event so I would be satisfied if I cash,” she said. “I will play one hand at a time and hope the poker gods are on my side for any flips. In German there is a saying, “Kein Pech”, so no bad luck.
How to learn how to watch ice hockey, the PokerStars way
Let’s talk perks. Big perks. The kind of perks available to PokerStars players at PokerStars events.
Like trips to the Sphere. That’s one. Or the perk offered last night. Tickets to a Golden Knights game, Las Vegas’s Stanley Cup winning NHL heroes, at the T-Mobile arena.
Throw in a party bus and a few staff, and you get a perfect demonstration of why PokerStars events offer something you can’t get anywhere else.
What follows here is something like our informal guide to watching ice hockey – the PokerStars way. A 9-step guide.
It doesn’t require an understanding of the rules. Just a “leave it to us” attitude. And a pink limo. But we’ll get to that later.
Let’s start at the beginning.
The morning after on the day before
One the attributes of good poker players is discipline.
Can you wait for the right moment?
Can you fold the second-best hand?
Can you go easy on the PokerStars players party when you’re in the main event the next day?
The player party may not be on the tournament schedule, but it’s an event most people won’t miss.
And so this morning after the conversation in the halls is not how many left, but what time did you leave?
We’ll stick to the first of those questions here.
Last night we finished with 34 players remaining in the main event and heading into Day 3.
Anthony Dianaty leads, bagging up 3,220,000 last night. That’s nearly twice as many as second place Liran Betito on 1,885,000.
Dianaty is pursued by the likes of Nick Schulman, Sergio Aido, and Ryan Yu. They all sit in the provisional top ten.
There are a couple of differences today that will matter to players, and to anyone following from home.
First, the levels increase today, from 60 minutes to 75 minutes. That should ensure we get some proper play as we move closer to the final table.
Second, our live streaming of the event starts this afternoon. You can follow all the action live (albeit on a 30-minute delay) from the tournament room here at Resorts World.
That starts at 12.30pm P.T. or 9.30pm CET.
There’s $268,945 waiting for the winner tomorrow. But everyone is guaranteed at least $6,005 today.
Play starts at noon with the blinds now 10,000/25,000.
You can also follow live updates over on PokerNews by clicking here, or the link at the top of this page.
Whatever you do don’t leave early.
1st – $268,945
2nd – $168,175
3rd – $120,130
4th – $92,410
5th – $71,080
6th – $54,680
7th – $42,060
8th – $32,355
9th – $24,885
10-11th – $19,140
12-13th – $15,950
14-15th – $13,875
16-17th – $12,070
18-20th – $10,495
21-23rd – $9,125
24-27th – $7,935
28-31st – $6,905
32-34th – $6,005
The NAPT Las Vegas 2023 Main Event drew a field of 1,095 entrants, who created a $1,609,650 prize pool.
The top 159 finishers made it to the money after the bubble burst following an extended hand-for-hand period.
The first NAPT bubble in a long time
Bubbles happen in every event, but it seems remiss not to briefly mention today’s for posterity. The first NAPT bubble in more than 12 years.
It happened a short while ago after one of those extended periods of double ups – or “bubble ups” to use a phrase coined by our very own Howard Swains.
Seven in all. Someone asked if this was the longest bubble period. It’s not even close.
There have been bubbles on the EPT lasting hours. And even on this side of the Atlantic, a bubble can take it’s time.
Managing this phase of the tournament today is Charlie Cerisi, one of the most experienced floor managers in the game. We’ve written about him before, and about what goes into the meticulous management of arguably a tournament’s most important moment.
If you feel like a trip down memory lane you can read one of those stories here.
Nothing can be permitted to go wrong. Today, again, nothing did.
It has led to that post bubble period of relative quiet. You can feel the tension has almost evaporated.
Those who had hung on can now play freely – whatever outcome that leads to.
While those for whom the bubble was spend adding to their stack are now back to the business of going deep.
It’s helped too by the PokerStars player’s party which takes place tonight at the Zouk nightclub, right here in Resorts World. Free food and drink for players and their guests until the general public arrive at 11pm. Then it will become like any other Las Vegas night.
For now the main event plays on. Next stop the final table. But we’re some way off that just yet. Party or no party.
Looking ahead to Day 2
We now have a united field and a full list of numbers in the NAPT Las Vegas Main Event.
Thursday is Day 2 in the Main Event. The six first day flights are complete. If you bust now you bust for good.
So here are those numbers.
There were a total of 1,095 entries over the six flights. That adds up to a prize pool total of $1,609,650.
The top 159 players will finish in the money. The winner will walk away with $268,945.
The chip leader going into the day is non other than PokerStars Ambassador Parker Talbot who leads the remaining 252 players.
He bagged up 681,000 to claim the lead, nearly 200,000 over second placed Andrew Moreno on 492,000.
Yesterday featured the largest turnout of any of the Day 1s. Some 449 entrants made their way to Resorts World in Las Vegas.
Others among the top spots include Cade Lautenbacher (339,000), Jeremy Eyer (327,000), and Tom Orpaz (277,000).
So we’re into Day 2, and that means one more significant obstacle stands in the way of the 252 remaining players. The bubble.
We begin play at the slightly later time of 12 pm. The big blind will be 3,000 with an average stack right now of 43 big blinds.
There’s one more change for players to factor in. Levels shift up from 40 minutes to one hour. They’ll stay like that until we have a winner on Saturday.
You can follow some of the stories from the event right here on the PokerStars Blog (scroll down to catch up on a few before play starts).
You can also get all the hand for hand updates over on PokerNews. Click here, or the link at the top, to open up that page.
NAPT Las Vegas attendance:
Day 1a: 180 players, 38 survivors
Day 1b: 33 players, 8 survivors
Day 1c: 273 players, 60 survivors
Day 1d: 47 players, 12 survivors
Day 1e: 449 players, 95 survivors
Day 1f: 113 players, 39 survivors
Total: 1,095 entries, 252 players continue to Day 2
One last thing to remember is that PokerStars TV will begin live streaming the final three days from NAPT Las Vegas (including the final of the Super High Roller event on Sunday).
That’s starts on Friday, November 10 with Day 3 of the Main Event, when we will be well and truly into the money and reducing the field to a final table.
PokerStars commentators James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton will be joined by poker experts Maria Ho, Griffin Benger, and Nick Walsh.
Coverage will feature each players’ hole cards, albeit on a 30-minute delay.
Follow the action on the PokerStars YouTube and Twitch channels.
Along with the English language broadcast, Brazilian-Portuguese streaming will also be available on YouTube and Twitch, provided by Felipe de Paulo and Flavio del Valle.
NAPT Las Vegas 2023 streaming schedule:
November 10, 12:30 PST: NAPT Main Event – Day 3
November 11, 13:00 PST: NAPT Main Event – Final Table
November 12, 13:00 PST: NAPT High Roller – Final Table
Behind the scenes at the Big Game
Big Game fans can get a sneak peek behind the scenes of the newest episode behind filmed today.
As you might recall from yesterday the two Loose Cannons were selected after an exhaustive process. You can read about how the auditions played out here.
The short version is that Nikki Limo and Lily Newhouse will be taking their seats as Loose Cannons, each staked $50,000 to play against the best in the game as well as celebrity players.
First up is Nikki Limo who lines up alongside the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Lex Veldhuis, Jennifer Tilly and, well, see for yourself below…
Jeremy McDonald making a heap of his winnings?
Rumour has it that the hay from Chippawa county is sent to the Royal family every year to feed their horses.
I can’t find any reference to this (at least not after five minutes of Googling) but it’s a cool story.
Another cool story about that county is that the town of Rudyard is named (as you might have guessed) after the British author Rudyard Kipling.
In fact, Kipling wrote a poem for the town after hearing of the tribute (Kipling’s Michigan Twins). Rumours that the town was called “If” in the days before the naming are unfounded.
So why all the talk about Rudyard?
Well, it’s because another cool story about the town is that it has a poker export, as well as the hay.
It’s PokerStars qualifier Jeremy McDonald.
He’s their chief poker resident among a population of less than 2,000.
“It’s just a typical small friendly town. Everybody knows each other. It’s a beautiful place. Hunting and fishing people. And a lot of tourism.”
Swapping small town America for big City America might be a bit of a culture shock. But not really. He’s more than at home here, having played here several times before, and won seats to events across the country.
He started playing as a kid. 5-card draw with the family, playing for the fun of it.
He got in on the poker boom as he got older, playing in home games and tournaments, usually for no more than $20.
That’s how things start. Home games. Small stakes. Now he’s in the NAPT main event.
When I stopped by he’d just won a big pot, but had lost some when we caught up at the break.
Jeremy’s a polite, well-spoken guy. He likes hockey when not playing poker full time, with a fondness for the old Pullman stadium in Sault Ste Marie. He’s a regular there with his brother for the junior hockey games.
In terms of poker, he’s a pretty laid-back kind of guy.
“For some reason, when things don’t go well, I don’t get too upset,” he said. “I consider it to be a strength to the game.
Jeremy won his seat in a regular satellite on PokerStars, turning a $50 satellite into a $500 satellite and then a $5K package. His poker record was already decent, with a WSOP circuit ring to his name.
“When I satellite into the bigger events mentally, it helps to know I paid x amount instead of paying the regular buy-in price.”
So far so good for the Rudyard man, who has his goals set high.
“A good result would be to make a final table,” he said. “A fantastic result would be to finish in the top three.”
If he can keep his head while all those around him are losing theirs, well, who knows.
The last of the Day 1s
It’s the last day for players to enter the NAPT Las Vegas Main Event. Two more flights, one at 11am and the other at the slightly later time of 8pm. This is it. Enter today or not at all. And remember to enter as many times as you like.
If you’re not here, and are following from around the world, here’s the situation on Wednesday.
There were several headlines as play ended last night. Let’s take them in order.
- Lily Lofty topped the 60-players of Day 1C, bagging up 420,500 chips at the close of play.
- The Main Event has had 533 entrants so far.
- Phil Hellmuth took a seat and will return with chips on Day 2.
Hellmuth is the poker icon with 17 WSOP bracelets to his name and countless other titles. He joined on Day 1C yesterday afternoon and is among the 60 survivors (from the 273 that started), bagging up 109,000 chips.
He must also count as one of the most recognisable faces in the field. His appearance on the original Big Game counts as one of the series highlights.
PokerStars Ambassador Maria Konnikova also bagged chips and is through to Day 2. She’ll return with 183,000 when the field unites for the first time tomorrow.
As a reminder, there are six Day 1 flights in total. Two each day. Flights E and F conclude those today.
In terms of entries what does that mean? Here’s a look.
Day 1a: 180 entries, 38 survivors
Day 1b: 33 entries, 8 survivors
Day 1c: 273 entries, 60 survivors
Day 1d: 47 entries, 12 survivors
Total: 533 entries, 118 survivors
What’s in store today?
The two remaining flights will start at 11am and 8pm respectively. Day 1E will have 40 minute levels, and Day 1F turbo 20 minute levels.
And remember you can follow updates all day over on PokerNews. The link for those updates is here or at the top of the page.
Joseph Barrett thinking big
Two PokerStars qualifiers who have made the trip to Las Vegas from Pennsylvania are Joseph Barrett and Dean Morrow.
Oddly enough they’re drawn in seats alongside each other on table 45.
Barrett was born in Philadelphia but now lives in Bucks County.
“I don’t know where or how I was introduced to poker, but I’ve been playing in small home games with friends playing hold’em and 5-card draw since I was in middle school.”
Joseph won his seat in a satellite on PokerStars PA.
“I started with a step satellite for only $50 and got a seat into the main sat from that. Lucky for me I only needed that bullet and was able to turn $50 into the $5k package.”
His biggest scores so far have all been online.
My largest was in September where I won the $300 LMS PACOOP Tourney for over $12,000 and a $100 Summer Series tournament last summer for roughly $5,500.
That makes the NAPT main event the largest tournament of his career so far. But he’s thinking big.
“At then, end of the day… ideally a deep run and a shot at the title is the goal. But that’s clearly easier said than done. Whatever happens, happens. It’s a tournament. No one is gonna cash them all.”
The story behind The Big Game and the two newest Loose Cannons
You might already have read about the Big Game Is on Tour. And judging by the popularity of the qualifying events, a lot of poker fans are looking forward to it’s return after more than a decade.
Two qualifying tournaments took place last Saturday. Some 90 players in each using a shootout format. The winners advanced to the all-important audition stage.
So, what happened then?
Earlier today, James Hartigan, one of the hosts of the Big Game, and the voice of PokerStars, talked us through what happened next.
The story is a little different to what you might expect.
LONG QUEUES HOURS BEFORE REGISTRATION OPENED
Turn out proved to be even greater than expected. Registration opened at 11am but by 9am, a full two hours before doors opened, a long line had formed. It’s safe to say enthusiasm was high.
“Joe (Stapleton) and I were down there at 11 to talk to some of them,” said James. “They were so excited at the prospect of being on the show and just excited to see PokerStars back in the States. Excited the NAPT was in town and excited that we were doing the Big Game.”
The maxed out freerolls produced a winner from each table.
Next step. The audition process.
PUTTING THE PANEL TOGETHER
The way James described it, anyone familiar with the X Factor, or any kind of TV talent show, will know the process. A stage set up in a theatre – in this case the resorts world theatre – which served as the audition studio.
What about a panel. You need a panel.
That’s where James and Joe drew on the experience of the perfect Big Game judge. Someone fluent not just in poker, but in the Big Game, and what makes the perfect Loose Cannon.
Nadya Magnus was the perfect choice. A Loose Cannon herself from the original Big Game Series, and it’s most profitable loose cannon.
“She was there as someone who is A, a very good poker player, and B, has been there, seen it, done it before in terms of knowing what makes a good Loose Cannon.”
Nadya has since gone on to become a successful player in her own right, but also an advocate for women in poker. Including giving away seats to the WSOP and the NAPT.
With the panel all set, attention turned to the process of selecting those Loose Cannons.
And as James explained, that’s not easy.
FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
“The key thing I would say is you just don’t know what you’re going to get,” said James. “What you’re dealing with is between 18 and 20 random winners of random sit and goes.”
But any concerns about not finding the right type of player were quickly dispelled. In fact, as James explained, the opposite happened.
“We met so many nice people and had so many tough decisions to make,” he said. “Even from that first round. It’s an interview where we’re asking them to tell us why they should play the big game. Why we should stake them 50k to play in this format.”
As James mentioned, each finalist was asked several questions. They were asked to talk a little about themselves, give their life story, so to speak, and talk about how their interest in poker originated.
“At that point we had to decide. Yes, you go through the next round, or you don’t. And that is really hard.”
Seven of the finalists were selected to go through to the second round – call backs to put it another way. Bootcamp to use X-factor talk.
“It’s almost like ‘you’re going to Vegas!’,” joked James. “’Oh, you’re already in Vegas.’”
What about that other aspect of judging panels? Like who gets to be bad cop?
WHO GETS TO BE BAD COP?
“When we started, we were joking about what our roles were going to be. And I was, you know, the plain-speaking Englishman. I’m obviously the Simon Cowell. And then Nadya opened her mouth.”
James quickly realised that there couldn’t be two tough talking judges on the panel. And when it came to asking the types of questions that needed to be asked – tough poker questions – Nadya was perfect.
“Nadya does not suffer fools,” said James, explaining that she probed contestants with questions designed to test their understanding of the game.
“But if you’ve got her questions wrong, that’s it. You were kind of like done in her eyes.”
But things got friendlier in the second round.
HANDPICKING THE FINALISTS
Round two was called two truths and a bluff.
“Each finalist had to come into the room and give three facts about themselves. Only one of them would be a lie.”
It sounds like a fun test of a poker face and a chance for the panel to spot the bluff. But there was more method to this madness than might have first appeared. It was a chance for the finalists to talk more about themselves, and for the panel to understand their personalities.
“It was interesting because there were a couple of players who were shoe-ins from the first round who then stepped back during that second,” said James.
It worked the other way too. Players who didn’t stand out as much in the early stages now came to life. Maybe showing a great sense of humour, or a TV-friendly deadpan delivery.
It made an already tough decision, often based on pragmatism, even tougher. Hoping to get two people to make an entertaining TV show, they realised they had four or five.
“Any one of these people would be great. But that means we’re going to have to say no to some people. And that’s always the hardest part.”
IT ABOUT PICKING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
There’s also that other factor in a process like this. Do you make sure your contestants fit a particular profile? Or do you simply go for the two best candidates?
James explained the panel’s thinking.
“It’s very easy to tick boxes. ‘We need someone who represents x.’ No. What we need are of the seven finalists the two people who we think stand the best chance of making money. And are going to hold their own against the pros. And are going to deliver something that is entertaining TV.
They stuck to this maxim and made their choice.
“We just happened end up with two female players.”
AND THE TWO LOOSE CANNONS ARE…
Those two players are Nikki Limo and Lily Newhouse.
Nikki, a former YouTuber, was selected first, which left Lily thinking the worst for exactly the reasons the panel were keen to avoid. Talking later she admitted to thinking that down to two, she would never get through.
“When she came in, we said, you’re both great, but we’re going to give you your shot. She was stunned,” said James.
“It’s sad in a way that people would think that there would be a token woman. No. The two best candidates. The two best players. The two best loose cannons, just happen to be women.”
NOW THROW IN A GOOD BACK STORY
And what else do you need when casting Loose Cannons? Compelling backstories of course.
“Lily’s got a great backstory as someone who’s been in poker for many years. Then took a break from poker before coming back to the game in recent years.
“The fun story. Her water’s broke whilst she was playing cash at the Mirage – she did not leave the game. You’ve got to wait until the button has passed.”
That’s right. If you’re reading this, now would be a good time to stand and give a round of applause.
What that means for you the viewer is some great poker television to look forward to.
“It’s definitely going to create action,” said James. “It’s definitely going to be strong personalities, alongside the pros. And hopefully hold their own poker-wise against them.
Perhaps most satisfying form this whole process was not just the casting of players like Nikki and Lily. But it served as an opportunity to connect with poker players in the US, on home soil, after an extended time away.
“The one thing I would say is we just enjoyed talking to everyone who came into that room,” said James. “They were all really good people.
There was a mix of big personalities and less obvious ones. There were also some of sailed too close to professional status to be considered the plucky amateur when up against the goliaths of the TV table.
As for Nikki and Lily they’re over the moon. Understandably. It’s the opportunity to play on a stage like this, for high stakes, against some of the biggest names in poker.
As if by weird coincidence Nikki recently discovering the Big Game from back in 2010 and 2011. The very first episode she watched featured none other than Nadya Magnus.
A LIFE CHANGING MOMENT, NOT JUST FOR THE PLAYERS
Today is the morning after that big day. Both will be coached by Nadya who can arm them with an idea of what to expect, along with a few hints and tips. Who better? She’s seen it, done it, and won it.
Now it’s all about the action at the table.
The whole process had a bit of an effect on James, a wizened veteran of the industry.
“It’s very easy to become cynical and jaded,” he explained. “When you give someone the opportunity and they’re so grateful and you realise that this is their dream. It’s not just about the money.
“It means the world to them,” said James. And when you find those people – like Platinum Pass winners or Power Pass Gold Pass winners – you realise they’re getting an opportunity they never thought they would have and which they will remember the rest of their lives.”
The story after the first Day 1 of Day 1s.
Here’s the story so far.
Yesterday days 1A and 1B played out. They totalled 213 entries across the two flights. Dongwoo Ko finished as chip leader.
Ko, from Burnaby, British Colombia, bagged up 434,500 for a clear lead on the field and the only player to top the 400k mark.
In second place was Joe Tehan. NAPT trivia fans will remember Joe as an original winner from the last time the NAPT hit US shores. He’ll return on Day 2 with 311,000. Landon Tice holds third spot with 300,500.
Of course, nothing is won yet. Or lost when you think of it.
Anyone busting yesterday can re-enter into any of the remaining four Day 1 flights. And do that as many times as they like. For those of independent and abundant means, there really is literally no reason to bust this event until the start of Day 2.
Not that such thoughts will both the likes of Dan Shak, Matt Affleck, Nick Schulman or Tomas Patka. They’re all through.
As is the PokerStars Ambassador David Kaye. Not so other PokerStars representatives Maria Konnikova, and Frankie Cucchiara. Both will be mulling over the paragraph two above this one.
If that’s today then the first flight is underway, with the second, also known as Day 1D, starting at 6pm local time.
Meanwhile, in the Super High Roller event
The Main event was not the only tournament in action yesterday. The Super High Roller event, which began on Sunday, reached the final table stage, with David Stamm chip leading.
The $10,300 buy-in event drew a field of 59 entries, adding up to a $572,300 prize pool.
The final day starts on today at 12:30 p.m. local time, with the blinds at 10,000/15,000. Live updates will be available at PokerNews.
Here’s a look at the final table line up and payouts.
Seat 1: Jesse Lonis, USA, 374,000
Seat 2: David Stamm, USA, 852,000
Seat 3: James Collopy, USA, 415,000
Seat 4: Richard Green, USA, 180,000
Seat 5: Sergio Aido, Spain, 354,000
Seat 6: Sam Soverel, USA, 775,000
1st – $174,550
2nd – $114,460
3rd – $82,985
4th – $62,955
5th – $48,645
6th – $37,200
7th – John Morgan, USA, $28,615
8th – Shannon Shorr, USA, $22,890
Day 1 number 2. Of 6.
Things were a little more transitional when the NAPT was here last. Day 1 was followed by Day 2, then Day 3 and so on and so forth and what have you.
This week though things are a little different.
We still follow the one, two, three pattern. But the one part – Day 1 – has six parts to it. And the second of those, officially known as Day 1B, has just started.
To be a bit clear about this, you can find the full tournament schedule on the NAPT homepage.
But here are the tldr notes.
- There are six Day 1 flights.
- Two are played each day.
- The first starts at 11am. The second at 6pm.
- The morning start has one-hour levels. The evening start has 40-minute levels.
- Both will play 14 levels today.
- Registration closes after ten.
Days 1C and 1D will follow the same start times tomorrow.
Days 1E and 1F wrap up the opening flights on Wednesday.
Players can enter those as many times as they like. The survivors are then united on Thursday for Day 2. That’s when things revert to the traditional one, two, three… format.
Cade Lautenbacher making the numbers work
It’s hard to argue the link between poker and those working in the finance sector. Players who fit this description are everywhere. You may even think this about yourself. If not finance, then some sort of interest in numbers, analysis, or data. The kind of thing that baffles some and delights others.
Take Cade Lautenbacher for instance. A master’s student studying quantitative finance at the University of Michigan.
Perhaps you’re not familiar with that world. Full disclosure, the rest of this paragraph is the result of five minutes on google. But it’s about financial theory and mathematical modelling. The aim being to make correct decisions in the markets while managing financial risk.
Let’s put that yet another way. It’s using information to calculate the right moment to invest. All while minimising risk and taking advantage of favourable conditions.
It’s hard not to see the correlation between that world and this one. The world of financial markets and that of poker.
And how it can make promising poker players.
Lautenbacher is one of that breed.
He won a WSOP bracelet online two years ago then spent last year in Las Vegas playing full time. His aim ultimately, is to turn pro after he graduates.
“A good result in Vegas would be cashing the main, hopefully on one bullet,” he said in the build-up to the festival. “A fantastic result would be making it to day three and having a proper sweat.”
He’s in the Day 1A field today and just scored a double up through Zong Soh who had tried to hero call with ace-high after Lautenbacher flopped a set of queens.
“My goal is to just play my best poker every hand.”
That’s one instance in the books.
Going all the way back to February 2010
If a week is a long time in politics, then 12 (and a half) years is a long time for anyone. Including a North American Poker Tour.
A lot has happened in the years since this tour last opened its doors on US soil.
If you’re curious for a reminder of what the world looked like back in February 2010 (putting aside certain poker related legal changes that were on the horizon), here’s a reminder.
- Drew Brees led the Saints to a Super Bowl win.
- The Winter Olympics took place in Vancouver, Canada.
- The movie Hurt Locker won a Bafta for best film.
- “Snowmageddon” rocked the east coast United States delivering 40 inches of snow within a week.
- And TikTok by Ke$ha topped the Billboard 100.
Remember much of that?
NAPT Main Event Eve
We don’t want to overstate the significance of events set to take place this week. But the NAPT Las Vegas has been a long time in coming. Excuse us if some of that excitement spills over from time to time.
Today marks Main Event minus-1. Tournament eve. We’re now just hours away from the first PokerStars NAPT Main Event on US soil for more than 12 years.
12 cold long years.
But enough of that. Plenty has happened in that time. And it’s nice to think that poker’s momentum is swinging back in the right direction.
So while we wait for the big day tomorrow, here are a few things to tell you about.
The Super High Roller event gets underway. Call it a soft launch. A $10,300 buy-in event over two days, concluding tomorrow.
The Main Event follows tomorrow. And it’s an unconventional look to a tournament of this size with three days of opening flights.
To put it another way there will be two Day 1 flights starting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A through F. Then, the survivors of each will united for Day 2 on Thursday.
What will be at stake when they do?
Well of the $3 million in festival guarantees there will be $1.5 million guaranteed for the Main Event.
But here’s a look at some of those other events:
- NAPT Main Event: November 6–11 – $1,650
- NAPT NLH Super High Roller: November 5-6 – $10,300
- NAPT NLH Cup: November 9-12 – $550
- NAPT NLH High Roller: November 10-12 – $5,300
- NAPT NLH Mystery Bounty: November 11-12 – $1,100
In the last several weeks PokerStars has been giving players the opportunity to win their seat into the NAPT Main Event with fifty Vegas Gold Passes awarded, with more winning seats in satellites.
Those Gold Pass though come with additional treat. Three days of witnessing the thrills off the felt and an Oracle Red Bull Racing Fan Experience in Las Vegas.
Things will get loud in the main event. They’ll get louder still for that. Stay tuned this week for more on that.
Our coverage begins tomorrow where we tell the stories of many of the players taking part in the main event. Men and women of all backgrounds in Las Vegas for the same purpose.
You’ll also be able to follow live hand for hand updates on PokerNews. You can find that page by clicking here. Or the link at the top.
So that’s hand for hand coverage, and the stories behind some of the faces at the tables.
Play starts at 11am local time. We hope you’ll join us for both.
Building up to a long-awaited event
Few sentences on these pages have been as exciting as this:
PokerStars is heading back to Las Vegas.
It has been a long wait – you don’t need us to tell you that. But we’re bringing everything back to poker’s spiritual home for a gold-tinted month later this year.
It starts with the North American Poker Tour (NAPT) and it concludes with the penultimate race of the F1 season thrown in. That’s where PokerStars’ partner Oracle Red Bull Racing will shoot for gold.
But back to the NAPT – the first major live poker festival, under the PokerStars banner, for the first time in 12 years.
We’re taking that PokerStars tournament experience to the Resorts World tables in Las Vegas.
And what’s more, it’s open to players from around the world, whether you live in the States or anywhere else.
- The NAPT kicks off November 4-12.
- The $1,650 buy-in Main Event runs 6-11 November with SIX starting flights.
- There is also a $5,300 high roller event from November 10-12.
- $550 PokerStars Cup running November 9-12.
NAPT LAS VEGAS FULL SCHEDULE
For the full schedule click here.
Friday November 10
12:30 PT / 15:30 ET / 21:30 CET
NAPT LAS VEGAS: $1,650 MAIN EVENT – DAY 3
Saturday November 11
13:00 PT / 16:00 ET / 22:00 CET
NAPT LAS VEGAS: $1,650 MAIN EVENT – FINAL TABLE
Sunday November 12
13:00 PT / 16:00 ET / 22:00 CET
NAPT LAS VEGAS: $5K HIGH ROLLER – FINAL TABLE
Coverage on our central/global channels (YouTube and Twitch) will be hosted by James Hartigan, Joe Stapleton, Maria Ho, Griffin Benger and Nick Walsh – with special guests.
There will also be a Brazilian-Portuguese language stream on our BR channels.
James and Joe are heading to Vegas for the first North American Poker Tour event in more than a decade, plus the F1 Grand Prix!
They discuss the #NAPTLasVegas live streaming schedule (three days of cards-up coverage on the PokerStars Twitch and YouTube channels) and look ahead to the return of the Big Game.
The guys are joined on the podcast by actor and high stakes regular Arden Cho, who’s among the players taking a seat in this $100/$200 cash game.
While talking to Arden, James and Joe reveal a few other names from the Big Game on Tour line-up and confirm who’ll be joining them at Resorts World to help cast the Loose Cannons.
Finally, My Nguyen from Canada competes for a Power Pass, answering questions about the poker movie ‘Molly’s Game’ in ‘Superfan vs Stapes’.
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