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Negreanu on top in Los Angeles
The Oscars are on Sunday and Los Angeles is filled with stars.
So it was only fitting that the seventh annual WPT Los Angeles Poker Classic produced a robust, high-caliber field of top-flight pros when action began on Saturday.
A total of 696 players paid the requisite $10,000 to rent a patch of felt at the Commerce Casino this weekend, the vast majority of them of the vicious, bloodthirsty shark variety.
Former World Champions Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, Scotty Nguyen and Carlos Mortensen joined former LAPC champs Phil Ivey, Eric Hershler, Alan Goehring, Antonio Esfandiari and Michael Mizrachi in a sea of has-beens, will-bes, wannabes and couldn't-bes in the first minutes of this six-day event.
We'd give you a list of notable names, but it's probably easier just to direct you to our photo gallery.
Those 696 entries represent a marked improvement over last year's field of 665 players, a rarity in an era of declining tournament registrations and uninspiring fields.
This year's champ will take home $1,686,760, or nearly $100k more than Ivey earned for taking down last year's tournament.
All told, 63 players will partake of the $6,681,600 prize pool, with each of the six players who sit at next Thursday's final table guaranteed at least $240,538.
Saturday's action saw the field play out six 90-minute levels and while Ivey, Ferguson, Hellmuth and Chan all survived to see the morrow, the day belonged to Daniel Negreanu.
With his mother experiencing serious health issues, Negreanu had publicly stated that his participation in the LAPC was in doubt, but the Team PokerStars Pro pro showed up in Los Angeles and made the most of his time at the tables.
Kid Poker thrived on Day 1, taking the chip lead midway through the fifth level after eliminating fellow PokerVT rep. Adam Junglen with queens versus A-Q, all-in on the turn of an A-Q-7-7-4 board.
The hand gave Negreanu about $130k to work with - "personality money," as an opponent put it, and indeed Negreanu's personality came to the fore in the later levels.
The most popular man in poker spent the day's final level singing Katy Perry songs and challenging Maria Ho to hand-to-hand combat before prematurely conceding defeat and simultaneously bemoaning the lack of almonds in his diet. It was that kind of day.
Elsewhere, Jeff Madsen, Bertrand Grospellier and Danny Wong all found themselves near the top of the over 400 Day 1 survivors, while Erick Lindgren, Scotty Nguyen, David Benyamine and Jean-Robert Bellande topped the list of notable eliminations.
Day 2 action will begin at noon Pacific Time and continue over five furious levels before stillness descends over the Commerce Casino again.
Tune in to our thrilling coverage in the Live Tournaments section and follow along at home.