The $1500 Pro/Am began on Friday afternoon with the first of two Day Ones in action. The tournament, which was an opportunity for players who had not yet earned their Epic Poker League tour cards the chance at a seat in Tuesday’s Main Event, was popular not only with the “amateurs” at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas but also was a favorite event for several of the card-carrying EPL members trying to get into the Main Event on the cheap. There wasn’t an easy table in any area of the Palms throughout the two Day Ones in play.
On Friday, 92 players stepped up for the first Day One with a plethora of the card qualified EPL members taking a shot at a discounted Main Event seat. Some of those players included Allen Cunningham, Vanessa Selbst, Mike Matusow and Justin Bonomo. The Canadian banner was carried by several players, including Gavin Smith, Sorel Mizzi and Peter Jetten. Andy Bloch called the Day 1A action, “the toughest $1500 buy in tournament I’ve ever played,” as he joined Selbst, Matusow and Jetten among the fourteen players who moved on to Day Two.
98 players stepped up on Saturday to take on the fight of Day 1B, bringing the total field to 190 players for the first ever Epic Poker League Pro/Am. The quality of the field was very similar to what showed up on Friday, with League members (and former World Champions) Carlos Mortensen and Greg Raymer heading the list. Of particular note in the Day 1B field was 2011 World Series of Poker “November Niner” Phil Collins, who was one of the non-EPL qualified players to take their shot at getting into the Main Event. By the end of action on Saturday, twelve of those non-qualified players, including 2011 WSOP bracelet winner Sean Getzwiller, Mario Silvestri and Steve O’Dwyer, would join EPL card holders Raymer, Brian Rast and Phil Laak in moving onto play on Sunday.
With 29 players remaining on Sunday, the plan was to work towards a six-handed final table. With that said, the final nine players who survived the carnage would earn what 190 players had started the event wanted: a seat at the EPL Main Event. Jetten would fall short in his effort, dropping from the tournament in 21st place, while Matusow (17th, $1590) and Selbst (12th, $3170) would earn a little cash for their elimination.
When Brian Rast was eliminated in tenth place, the final nine men were guaranteed a seat in the EPL Main Event. Still, there was the matter of working down to the final table of the first ever EPL Pro/Am to take into account. Getzwiller would be eliminated in ninth, followed by George Long and 2010 WSOP Europe final tablist Dan Fleyshman. With Fleyshman’s elimination in seventh place, the final table for the EPL Pro/Am was set:
Seat 1: Micah Raskin 158,000
Seat 2: Clifford Waite 272,000
Seat 3: Brandon Myers 258,000
Seat 4: Steve O’Dwyer 562,000
Seat 5: Jeremiah DeGreef 231,000
Seat 6: Andy Bloch 420,000
Of the nine men who won their seats in the Pro/Am, only Bloch was guaranteed to be eligible for the inaugural EPL Main Event through being a qualified League member. The other eight men, through making the final nine, have earned their seats for the Main Event beginning on Tuesday. This was the original purpose of the Epic Poker League’s idea with the offering of a Pro/Am event, to allow players – be they top pros, non-qualified professionals or “amateurs” – the chance to earn their way into playing with the top professionals in the game.
The Epic Poker League Charity Tournament, the second component of what composes the EPL’s week long activities, also played out on Sunday. Taking down the victory was pro player Andy Frankenberger, who immediately donated his $2500 in winnings to the charitable cause for this tournament, Operation USA. The organization is a non-profit humanitarian group dedicated to helping communities alleviate the effects of disaster, disease, and endemic poverty throughout the world by providing privately-funded relief, reconstruction, humanitarian aid and development aid. Recent efforts from Operation USA have focused on drought-plagued East Africa as well as the tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri.
After the Pro/Am concludes on Monday, the first full-fledged Epic Poker League tournament will be ready for action the next day. The $20,000 buy in tournament will be a Six Handed No Limit Hold’em format for the inaugural event, with the EPL changing said format for each of their four Season One tournaments. Phil Hellmuth has committed to play, along with other top professionals such as Barry Greenstein, Selbst and Cunningham, which could make the first EPL tournament one of the toughest of the year.