The World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic is a traditional end-of-year high-stakes event which draws in all the big name pros from Las Vegas and beyond. This year’s WPTDBFDWPC, as it is not known for short, was as star-studded as ever, with everyone from Doyle to Dwan on hand to put up the $15,000 entry fee. This unusually high concentration of pros also presented the perfect opportunity for a little piece of festive goodwill.
Relentless charity-monger Barry Greenstein implored poker players to come along to Phil Ivey’s palatial Vegas homestead to have their heads shaved. They were submitting themselves on behalf of Thuy Doan, a 23 year old poker pro who was recently diagnosed with cancer. After graduating from college and becoming a full time poker player, Thuy’s plans were knocked for six with the news that she has a tumor behind her left knee. The chemotherapy treatment caused her hair to fall out, so, like many cancer patients, she decided to shave it all off. In recognition of her struggle and strength, a group of 17 players heeded Barry’s call and had their own locks chopped off.
The Bear was first in the chair, at one point sporting a slightly disturbing half-beard. Eli Elezra and the already somewhat bald Doyle Brunson were also on hand. The procession continued with Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, two of the internet contingent who turned up en masse. Thuy was clearly moved by the outpouring of affection from her fellow professionals. “It’s rare to see people get together and support someone else, and it shows that poker players are capable of having the biggest hearts ever.”
She is remaining upbeat about the tough road ahead of her and has received a small boost with the news that the tumor is getting smaller. “My life is still great. I have amazing people in it, a profession that I’m passionate about, and the potential for an incredible future. It’s a life worth fighting for and this cancer is just a hurdle. I won’t let it destroy me. I will beat it. Just watch.” The head-shaving ceremony was filmed and will be aired on an upcoming edition of Poker2Nite.
Back at the tournament, ridiculously tough table draws were the order of the day. Mat Stout, Kenna James, and Carlos Mortensen were all shacked up at the same piece of felt, as were John Juanda, Tom Dwan, and Yevgeniy Timoshenko. WSOP Main Event 8th place finisher Kevin Schaffel must have been cursing his draw, after being seated with Doyle Brunson and Eli Elezra.
Daniel Negreanu has always been one to speak his mind, and he openly criticized the Bellagio for their seating strategy. Players were allowed to register until late in the day and Daniel was unhappy players buying-in at the same time were being seated together. He tweeted the following complaint: “Wow, know Bellagio officially become the worst tournament of the country. I was registered just after a guy and I stay at the same table as him. It’s extraordinary. In my table, there are Men and Scotty Nguyen and ElkY, we were registered all at the same time”
After one day the field has been trimmed from 329 to 130 players. The chip leader is Steven Landfish with 345,000, but he has some serious talent snapping at his heels. Sorel Mizzi sits in third with 348,000, with Kenna James (305,200) and Antonio Esfandiari (289,900) just behind him. The Godfather of Poker is also running well in his own tournament and finished Day 1 within the top 15. The remaining players are all still in the hunt for a first place prize worth $1,428,430.