The $3,000 buy-in No Limit Hold'em tournament ended early this afternoon when final table chip leader, Terry Fleischer of Las Vegas, lost most of his chips in two hands to the eventual winner, Francois Safieddine of Denver, Colorado. Francois doubled through Terry when he put Francois all-in and his pair of fives finished second. Suddenly, Francoir had twice as many chips. A few hands later an almost identical situation between the two and again, Francois doubled up. The overwhelming chip lead allowed Francois to play an aggressive game that made short work of the opponents. The final table was completed in less than two hours. Francois received $222,900 plus a $10,200 seat in the WPT championship. Second place money, $111,450, was taken by Mike Appel of Boston, Massachusetts.
The tournament area was full of satellites this afternoon. A $1,500 buy-in Super Satellite began at noon with 183 entrants seated in the No limit Hold'em event. The final twenty-six players received a $10,200 seat in WPT Championship event that begins on Monday and goes for four days. A $530 buy-in Super-Satellite got started at 5:00 pm this afternoon. Single table satellites are a continuous process with one going off as soon as enough players sign up to fill a table. Buy-ins for the SNG's range from $175 up to $1100 and today most offered a seat in tomorrow's Super Satellite or the higher dollar ones giving a seat in the WPT Championship. Cecilia Mortensen was playing and winning, having downed the other nine to win her SNG and then she immediately sat down in another satellite. The Mirage is the center of full time poker action, and will remain so right up to the start of the Championship event on Monday.
I cruised the tournament area watching the exchange of cash and chips for tickets into the satellites. Players standing in line with money in hand for the magic ticket on the golden poker espress. The ride of a lifetime chasing the elusive and fleeting dream of fame and great fortune. Winning the satellite and taking your seat in the main event, Lady Luck giving you a thumbs-up with your all-ins, then sending you to the show. The WPT television table with bright lights, hair and make-up girls to make you look better than you ever have and cards out of your dreams. Just knowing that millions are watching your every move and tomorrow you may be one of the recognized golden players of tournament poker makes it all worthwhile. Fans crowding around just to get a look you and pleading for an autograph. Then, the really big one, your photo hanging in the Poker Hall of Fame along side all of those legends of the game. Possible? Of course, much better than the lottery; but certainly a crap shoot. You have to win a hell of a lot of all-ins. It's guaranteed that someone will win and maybe it will be you. If you can't dream it, then you probably can't do it.