The second episode of the PokerStars.net-sponsored “Million Dollar Challenge” hit television airwaves on Sunday following NFL on FOX coverage and featured Sergeant Denny Luna earning $25,000 before walking away.
2008 Playboy Playmate of the Year Jayde Nicole, who is a regular on the MTV reality series “The Hills,” was Luna’s celebrity adversary. Players started with a stack of 20,000 in chips and blinds of 400-800, ensuring face-paced action. Show front man Daniel Negreanu sat alongside Luna for his first match, but could not see any of the hole cards. In the first hand shown, Luna raised to 1,600 with K-3 pre-flop and Nicole came along with J-6 of clubs. The flop came K-J-5 and Nicole bet 3,000. Luna called to see a four on the turn. Nicole check-called a 3,000 chip bet from Luna and the river fell a seven. Nicole led out for 3,000 and Luna called, shipping the 21,200 chip pot to Luna with top pair.
In the match’s deciding hand, Luna called pre-flop with 8-7 and Nicole checked her option with K-5. The flop came 2-8-Q. Nicole pushed all-in on a big bluff and Luna picked it off with middle pair. The turn came a seven, leaving Nicole drawing dead and awarding Luna a $5,000 trip to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January.
In the second round, Luna squared off against 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker. This time, Negreanu was moved to an isolation booth, where the pro could see Luna’s hole cards and communicate with him through an earpiece. Moneymaker could use the “Dome of Silence” feature twice, locking out communication between Luna and Negreanu.
In a key hand, Luna called pre-flop with K-4 and Moneymaker checked with 6-2 of clubs. The flop came 8-J-A and Moneymaker checked. Luna checked behind after Negreanu advised betting half of the pot to see the turn come another ace. Moneymaker checked, Luna bet 1,900, and Moneymaker promptly hit the Dome of Silence button. Moneymaker then raised to 5,500 and Luna made the call with just king-high. The river was a jack and Moneymaker bluffed off another 5,500 chips. Luna insta-called to scoop the 23,600 chip pot.
After doubling Moneymaker up, Luna delivered the final blow to the former accountant from Tennessee. Luna coyly called pre-flop with pocket queens and Moneymaker checked his option with 8-3. The flop came 2-3-7 and Moneymaker quickly shoved all-in with middle pair. Luna called and a running J-5 sealed the amateur’s win in the hand for $25,000. When asked if he wanted to continue or walk away with $25,000 in tow, Luna elected to take the money in deference to his wife and children.
The next contestant to take to the stage on “Million Dollar Challenge” was Tracy Nguyen, a student from Irving, Texas. Her celebrity opponent was Super Bowl Champion Jerome “The Bus” Bettis, a former member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the match’s deciding hand, Bettis called pre-flop with pocket jacks and Nguyen checked her option with K-5. The flop came K-8-2 and Nguyen checked. Bettis bet 2,000, Nguyen pushed the action to 5,000, Bettis shoved all-in, and Nguyen made the call. The turn gave Nguyen another king and a jack failed to save Bettis on the river, giving Nguyen a PokerStars Caribbean Adventure trip.
Next up was Team PokerStars Pro member Barry Greenstein. In the $25,000 match, Nguyen called pre-flop with 9-5 and Greenstein rapped the table with 8-7. The flop came 9-5-6, giving Greenstein the nuts and Nguyen two pair. As expected, fireworks went off. Nguyen bet 1,000 and Greenstein called to see the turn come a three. Nguyen bet 3,000 and Greenstein locked out Negreanu, whom he noted normally favors playing small ball poker. Greenstein raised to 7,000 and Nguyen pushed. Greenstein happily called to put Nguyen at risk. A river deuce sealed her fate, but Nguyen walked away with a 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure trip for her efforts.
Three Sundays remain for the “PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge.” The show will air following NFL on FOX coverage on November 22nd, December 13th, and December 27th.