World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Star Begins Monday

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After a week in the entertainment capital of the world (and dodging the Academy Awards, among other events), the World Poker Tour heads to the northern part of California beginning on Monday for the more relaxed, sedate world of San Jose and the Bay 101 Shooting Star.

If you believed the part about “relaxed,” then you are new to the WPT and, in particular, this stop on the circuit. A part of every season of the WPT excluding its inaugural year, the Bay 101 Shooting Star is the most unique tournament on the WPT schedule because of its “bounty” format. In the past, up to 50 poker professionals have had the target squarely placed on them and, if an opponent knocks them out of the tournament, that opponent received a cash bounty. There have been instances over the years where a player was able to make his buy-in back (and then some) through just eliminating pros, let alone cashing in the tournament.

Over the years, the pros have done surprisingly well in the bounty tournament format, perhaps due to the over-aggression of people trying to eliminate them! In 2004, Phil Gordon defeated Chris Moneymaker (both were bounties) to take the WPT championship. Gus Hansen was the longest lasting pro the next year, finishing third to Danny Nguyen. Other top pros including David Williams, J. J. Liu, Jennifer Harman, Kathy Liebert, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Mike Sexton, Joe Serock and Erik Cajelais have all been at the final table, while Ted Forrest, Brandon Cantu and Steve Brecher went all the way to winning the championship.

For this year’s version of the Bay 101 Shooting Star, the buy in is $7500 (it has wavered over the past decade between $5000 and $10,000) and players have two Day Ones to pick from. Late registration will run for the two Day Ones until the sixth level each day. Also on those days, an eliminated player has the opportunity to re-enter the event, but only on that day (a Day 1A player cannot come back on Day 1B), up until the tenth level of the day. It should guarantee a healthy prize pool for the event.

The bounties for the Bay 101 will have a $2500 price tag on their heads and the players run the gamut from the veterans of the game to its top newcomers. Tentatively scheduled to play on Day 1A are such names as poker’s all-time money leader Antonio Esfandiari, Dan Smith, Daniel Negreanu, David ‘Doc’ Sands, World Series of Poker bracelet winner and WPT champion Dominik Nitsche, Dwyte Pilgrim, Erik Seidel, former World Champions Jonathan Duhamel and Hellmuth, two-time WSOP Poker Players’ Championship victor Michael Mizrachi, defending European Poker Tour Grand Final champion Mohsin Charania, Scotty Nguyen and Harman (among others).

If that list isn’t formidable enough, Day 1B has a whole new host of bounties for players to take shots at. Leading the bounties is Poker Hall of Famer and WPT commentator Sexton, who is joined by Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Barry Greenstein, Amanda Musumeci, Allen Cunningham, Christian Harder, Chris Moorman, Dan Shak, Joseph Cheong, Maria Ho, Todd Brunson, Liebert and Serock (among others).

At last year’s Shooting Star, local player Moon Kim lived the dream in his run at the Bay 101 Shooting Star. Getting into the tournament on a $1000 satellite, Kim got that money back by eliminating Shooting Star Nam Le on Day Two. Kim used those chips (and other players’) well, driving to the final table (unlike past years, no Shooting Stars made the final table). Kim was able to outlast pros Andrew Badecker, Joseph Elpayaa, Serock and Cajelais before knocking off Ubaid Habib to take the championship and the $960,900 first place prize. Kim is expected back to defend his championship, this time as one of the bounty players.

Day 1A will start at the rather early (for poker players, at least) hour of 11AM (Pacific Time), with ten one hour levels of play on the agenda. Day 1B on Tuesday will follow the same schedule and the field will come together for the first time on Wednesday for Day Two. The six handed WPT final table will be played out on Friday at 4PM and will crown the next champion of one of the World Poker Tour’s venerable tournaments.

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