Behind the scenes at the Foxwoods WPT World Poker Finals

November 22, 2011  

Action at the Foxwoods World Poker Finals started on Oct. 10 with a $600 no-limit hold’em deepstack tournament and progressed to the $10,000 World Poker Tour Main Event with final-table play unfolding Nov. 1. The final six were whittled down from 189 starting participants.

Several returning champions and poker notables entered the fray, including Hoyt Corkins, Jonathan Little, Kathy Liebert, Eric Seidel, Tony Dunst and Andy Frankenberger, who was 2010 WPT Player of the Year. Frankenberger made it to the final table and finished fifth. The other five finalists included Steve Brackesy, Daniel Santoro, Christian Harder, Bob Carbone and Eli Berg.

Santoro emerged the winner after three hours of heads-up play with Harder, who went all-in with pocket 10s against Santoro holding Big Slick. A king on the river made Santoro the victor, and he took home a top prize of $449,910 along with the championship trophy. Harder won $248,962.

Ante Up talked with Jeffrey Toth, tournament director for the Foxwoods, about the challenges involved in staging such an event.

“Logistics are the biggest challenge,” Toth said. “Everything from planning the space, the dealer scheduling, hotel room availability; it all begins six months before the event actually takes place.”

All 25 events went smoothly. Foxwoods works closely with the WPT production crew that records the action for broadcast, which will air in the spring.

“The WPT production crew knows what they’re doing,” Toth said. “We just go along with whatever they want for the best coverage.”

This year’s event featured lived play-by-play action at WPT’s website. Toth noted there are always some controversies at the tables during events with substantial prize money.

“There are bound to be some tense situations that arise where I have to make a decision about disputed play,” he said. “Some people just have to hear a ruling three times before they finally get it.”

One question that came up was the rule about a player being compelled to bet when holding the nuts of the river.
“Soft play is not tolerated,” Toth said. “People expect a high level of play and sharp competition at these types of events.”

In addition to the Foxwoods World Poker Finals next fall, there are several other major tournaments scheduled at the country’s largest casino. The Foxwoods Poker Classic takes place in the spring with two weeks of poker action that includes satellite tables, $300 events and culminates in the $3,500 main event. Foxwoods will run five Mega Stack events throughout the year (February, May, June, August and December).

When asked about practical tips for tournament directors organizing big events, Toth had a quick reply: “Hire good people to take care of everything. I rely on several key people to attend to all the details, no matter how small. It’s what makes the experience so enjoyable for our players.”

— Kay Fitzpatrick is Ante Up’s Northeast Ambassador. She’s a freelance journalist who recently wrote a series of strategy blogs for Everest Poker and is an avid player at New England’s poker rooms. Email her at anteupkay@gmail.com.

WPT World Poker Finals, Oct. 10-Nov. 1

Event 1 • $600 NLHE
Entries: 518 • Prize Pool: $266,305
Alfred Borges, Taunton, MA, $37,543
Event 2 • $400 Stud
Entries: 112 • Prize Pool: $38,022
Michael Mann, Westerly, RI, $7,586
Eugene Sumter, West Haven, CT, $7,586
Event 3 • $400 NLHE
Entries: 461 • Prize Pool: $156,510
Arndre Martin, Pawling, NY, $27,500
Event 4 • $300 Bounty
Entries: 418 • Prize Pool: $84,519
Robert Jandreau, Meriden, CT, $19,862
Event 5 • $400 Limit
Entries: 82 • Prize Pool: $27,839
Thomas Sin, Lansdowne, PA, $9,048
Event 6 • $400 NLHE
Entries: 379 • Prize Pool: $128,670
Brian O’Donoghue, Bayside, NY, $30,624
Event 7 • $500 Bounty
Entries: 289 • Prize Pool: $94,445
Brok-Alan Griffith, Wilton, NH, $18,600
Event 8 • $400 Omaha/8
Entries: 141 • Prize Pool: $47,869
Matthew Nowicki, Adams, MA, $8,205
Event 9 • $600 NLHE
Entries: 499 • Prize Pool: $256,535
Ryan Methia, New Bedford, MA, $60,081
Event 10 • $500 Seniors
Entries: 277 • Prize Pool: $118,223
Ted Spencer, Warwick, RI $18,601
Anthony Vlahos, Boxford, MA, $18,601
Event 11 • $300 NLHE
Entries: 470 • Prize Pool: $118,533
Jason Laramee, Mattapoisett, MA, $27,761
Event 12 • $400 PLO
Entries: 90 • Prize Pool: $30,555
Christopher Morse, Danbury, CT, $5,000
Event 13 • $400 NLHE
Entries: 349 • Prize Pool: $118,485
Joseph Lee, Yonkers, NY, $28,259
Event 14 • $300 Bounty
Entries: 431 • Prize Pool: $87,148
Paul Pedretti, Mineola, NY, $10,521
Event 15 • $400 Stud/8
Entries: 101 • Prize Pool: $34,288
Jack D’Agostino, N. Providence, RI, $9,772
Event 16 • $400 NLHE
Entries: 406 • Prize Pool: $137,837
Adam Ross, Bronx, NY, $19,570
Event 17 • $500 Bounty
Entries: 281 • Prize Pool: $91,830
Robert Brown, Milford, NH, $22,040
Event 18 • $400 H.O.S.E.
Entries: 107 • Prize Pool: $36,326
Jermaine Reid, Bronx, NY, $5,227
Event 19 • $300 Ladies
Entries: 241 • Prize Pool: $60,780
Judith Bass, Baton Rouge, LA, $9,096
Event 20 • $1,500 NLHE
Entries: 239 • Prize Pool: $318,766
Anthony Hill, Egg Harbor City, NJ, $76,823
Event 21 • $1K NLHE
Entries: 203 • Prize Pool: $179,189
Aaron Smith, New Bedford, MA, $43,185
Event 22 • $500 NLHE
Entries: 310 • Prize Pool: $132,308
Rob Alessandro, S, Walpole, MA, $21,436
Event 23 • $230 Bounty
Entries: 431 • Prize Pool: $87,148
Marc Pages, Salem, MA, $7,606
Event 24 • $2,500 NLHE
Entries: 106 • Prize Pool: $239,056
Justin Schwartz, Milford, CT, $68,131
$10K Main Event
Entries: 189 • Prize Pool: $1,778,300
Daniel Santoro, N. Bellmore, NY, $449,910
Event 26 • $5K NLHE
Entries: 22 • Prize Pool: $101,365
Jonathan Jaffe, W. Springfield, MA, $50,683
Event 27 • $3K NLHE
Entries: 44 • Prize Pool: $119,504
Alexander Queen, Bethlehem, PA, $34,261
Event 28 • $1K NLHE
Entries: 78 • Prize Pool: $68,850
Michael Frazin, Deerfield, IL, $14,000