Bellagio billowing star dust from WPT final

Anna Wroblewski

Without a hint of exaggeration, the Fontana Room at the Bellagio in Las Vegas is, as we speak, the epicenter of the poker world. The list of big-name poker pros squaring off at the World Poker Tour $25,000 Championship is, almost literally, a mile long, and they're just settling in for a multi-million dollar throwdown.

Yesterday's Day 1a guest list: Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Jamie Gold, Barry Greenstein, Dan Harrington, Jennifer Harman, T.J. Cloutier, David Williams, Kristy Gazes, Scott Fischman, Joe Sebok, Gavin Smith and more.

Today's Day 1b murderer's row: Patrik Antonius, Daniel Negreanu, Clonie Gowen, Huck Seed, Erick Lindgren, Mike Matusow, J.C. Tran, David Benyamine, Erica Schoenberg, Gus Hansen, Michael Mizrachi, Phil Laak and Jennifer Tilly, Doyle Brunson, Scotty Nguyen and Allen Cunningham.

You get the idea. It's a heavy-hitter.

And rightly so: It's the World Poker Tour Season 5 finale. The prize pool is expected to be in the neighborhood of $4 million.

And the setting is the opulent, iconic Bellagio casino in the heart of Las Vegas.

It's a can't-miss event.

And Owen Laukkanen and Matt Showell,'s esteemed tournament reporters - a little bit opulent and a whole lot iconic in their own right - are right in the middle of it.

Among their coverage highlights already: A side-bet between 2006 WSOP Main Event winner Jamie Gold and the Hellmuthian one, a shocking beat on poker icon Ted Forrest and a host of remarkably loose and crazy play for a deep-stack tournament.

And your Day 1a chip leader: Rapidly rising 21-year-old unknown Anna Wroblewski (pictured) - the recent winner of a $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em qualifying event, who sat down yesterday at a table with Ivey, Jeff Madsen, and Padraig Parkinson and made no qualms about taking their money.

All of Owen and Matt's witty and insightful postings are available over in the Live Tournaments Section, with hand updates, blogs, photos and behind-the-scenes interviews coming throughout the record-setting week leading up to the final table April 27.

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