Thursday, January 15, 2009

At the Beau

As Amy keeps reminding me, I have been lax in my blog postings of late so I will try to do better in 2009. I've spent the better part of two weeks at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi for the newly named Southern Poker Championship. They've had a WPT tournament event down here before in 2006, but then it was called the Gulf Coast Poker Championship.

As you probably know, the big January tournament in Mississippi used to be the World Poker Open in Tunica. A brief history of that event for the unenlightened (and if I get any of this wrong pleae write to correct me)-- it was started as the Jack Binion World Poker Open close to a decade ago back when the Binions still owned all of the Horseshoe casinos. Since it was discovered that the convention area of the Horseshoe was not over water (and thus illegal for gaming activities according to Mississippi law) the Horseshoe partnered with the Gold Strike to jointly hold the WPO. So you would see players in tournaments split between the Gold Strike ballroom and poker room and the Horseshoe poker room and gaming area in the back of the casino and shuffling back and forth as fields were condensed. At some point a few years ago the rights to the WPO were obtained by the Gold Strike and the entire tournament moved over there.

After Harrah's purchased the Grand Casino and started holding its World Series of Poker Circuit events there in January (in effect piggybacking on the popularity of the WPO), MGM-Mirage (the current owners of both the Gold Strike and the Beau Rivage) decided to move its signature WPT event to Biloxi and name it the Southern Poker Championship. The WPO is now relegated to second-tier status in October with a $5,000 main event, which is interesting because when it was begun the WPO was one of the must attend events in the country in a time when there weren't a lot of big tournaments.

The move seems to have drawn more poker's A-listers to the scene. The fact that the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure just took place in the Bahamas and Biloxi is an easy plane ride from there has probably helped the cause too. Some of the notables here include Barry Greenstein, Ted Forrest, Layne Flack, Vanessa Rousso, Chad Brown, Scott Clements, Robert Williamson, Clonie Gowen, Hoyt Corkins, Tiffany Michelle, Brandon Cantu, David get the idea. Tougher field than one might have expected.

I've been running around the last few days trying to get some work done for the next issue. I have interviewed Hevad Khan and Matt Graham (winner of a LHE Shootout WSOP bracelet in 2008 and a $5K event at the Five Diamond last month) for profiles, did the Ask Hoyt with you know who and gotten numbers for future interviews with Brown, Gavin Smith, Clements and Ted Lawson. I did, however, find time to get some poker playing in and took third in the nightly $200 second chance tournament on Tuesday for a $1,040 or so profit. That tournament was won by Ut Nguyen, younger brother of Men. I may have busted him earlier in the final table, but didn't want to gamble. As I like to say, you love to be the one putting in the third bet, but you sure hate to be the one calling it for most of your chips.

I broke this trip into two parts, the first one being last Tuesday through Saturday to mostly play poker before coming home to see Amy for a couple of days and then the second leg being this Tuesday through Sunday to mostly work on the magazine. The first leg was also profitable, with a profit of nearly $400. I stuck to satellites and 10-20 Omaha Hi-Lo for the most part. I did OK on sats this trip, going 2 for 8 (remember that these are two winner affairs so 1 out of 5 would be average), and did better in O8, winning $830 in one lengthy session, before giving up $500 the next day. I didn't play much NLHE because as I think I've mentioned before I hate playing games with the time charge instead of the standard rake structure because I feel I am penalized for playing TAG poker. Case in point, the one session of $1-$2 NLHE I did play I took two small pots, but paid $24 in rake for two hours of time. So that likely cost me $15-$20 in extra rake.

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