On last weekend’s episode of the “PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge,” 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event Champion Joe Cada appeared, but did not play. Instead, PokerStars sponsored celebrities trumped the challengers on the FOX poker franchise.

The first contestant of the afternoon was Dwayne Buth, who came out dressed in wrestling headgear as a former aficionado of the sport. His mission was to help the Cal State Fullerton wrestling team remain in existence and, appropriately, found himself up against Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Tito Ortiz. In the first round, each player began with 20,000 in chips and show front man Daniel Negreanu was seated alongside the contestant. He was unable see either player’s hole cards and Buth held one time out that he could use to consult with Negreanu at any point. On the line was a trip to the Bahamas for the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

Suckouts occurred left and right during the match, with the underdog seemingly always coming out ahead on the river. In one hand, Ortiz was all-in with K-10 against Buth’s pocket deuces. The board came 8-6-5-5, leaving Ortiz drawing to a king, 10, six, or eight. Sure enough, an eight hit on the river and Ortiz doubled up. Then, Ortiz cracked Buth’s pocket kings with 9-7 of diamonds despite Buth being a 94% favorite after the flop. Ortiz candidly commented, “I’m pulling a Joe Cada right now.”

Buth raised to 10,000 pre-flop with A-J and Ortiz was all-in with 5-4 of diamonds. The flop came 8-9-9, keeping Buth ahead, and a deuce on the turn left Ortiz drawing to a four or five. Sure enough, a four hit on the river, giving Ortiz a six-outer and yet another double up. Then, it was Buth’s turn to suck out. With the board reading 5-6-7-A, Buth held 4-9 against Ortiz’s 8-10 and needed a three or eight on the river to stay alive. The river came a three and Buth doubled after hitting one of his seven outs to a straight.

Ortiz finally send Buth’s chip stack plummeting to less than one big blind in the roller coaster of a match and then TKO’d the contestant after his A-2 of spades overcame Buth’s pocket sevens. Among those watching in the crowd was 2008 WSOP November Nine member Dennis Phillips. Buth walked away empty-handed, but received a hearty ovation from the crowd and “PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge” host Chris Rose.

The second contestant to take to the stage was Mike Kosowski, a first responder on September 11th, 2001. He squared off against model Joanna Krupa, who appeared on the ABC reality series “Dancing with the Stars.” Kosowski played highly conservatively throughout the match against Krupa, including one hand where Krupa called pre-flop with K-7 and Kosowski raised to 10,000 with A-7. Krupa made the call and the flop came Q-3-8. Instead of putting in a continuation bet, Kosowski checked, Krupa bet 4,000, and the challenger called. After the turn came another eight, Kosowski checked, Krupa bet 4,000, and Kosowski folded, leaving Negreanu to question, “Really?”

In the final hand, Kosowski picked up 6-9 of hearts and used his time out card to consult with Negreanu. The member of Team PokerStars Pro told him to push all-in and then continue playing aggressively. However, Krupa picked up Q-J and called Kosowski’s shove. The board ran out 8-K-4-8-A and that was all she wrote. No pro contestants took to the felts on the show, which aired on Sunday afternoon following FOX coverage of the National Football League.

Next up for “PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge” is the grand finale on December 27th. Four contestants will battle to see who will play heads-up against Negreanu for the $1 million first place prize. The show has already been renewed for Season 2.

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