No palm reader in the world predicted that potentially, we could have many months without any live tournament poker.
Yet, that’s our saddle.
One of the last tournaments to take place in California, before Governer, Gavin Newsom, ordered its 40 million citizens to find a microscope in the attic, and stare at it for the next month, was the Bay 101 $5,200 buy-in Shooting Star in the Bay 101 Casino, San Jose.
The event, which in recent years ploughed ahead regardless of its lack of affiliation with its former beau the World Poker Tour (WPT), attracted 290-entrants before the event came to a premature end.
The event began Wednesday, 11 March, at a time, according to the Tournament Director, Matt Savage, all of the major American sporting leagues were still in full swing. At the end of that day, things had changed dramatically when the NBA postponed the season after a player had tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). At this time, Savage decided to cut the event short by a day, ending on Friday 13 March.
Day 2 ended with ten players remaining in the hunt for the title, and Savage began looking at ICM calculations.
“I knew there was a chance the ownership of Bay 101 was proactive in looking at closing,” Savage told me in an email.
When the final day came into view, given the fast-moving nature of the pandemic, you imagine the organisers and players welcomed it with the same unease of a man allowing a succubus into his bed.
Still, in the final ten sauntered.
I don’t know if anyone ripped a bag in anger, but I do know thanks to Savage that one of the ten declared that they felt unwell, and at that moment the decision to end the competition and divide the spoils via ICM calculations was made.
Craig Varnell received the top prize of $159,710, and another title to add to his ever-growing collection. An award he wouldn’t have wanted to have won like this.
A View From the TD
In an email from Savage, the WPT Executive Tour Director shared an insight into his world in the weeks leading up to Newsom’s decision to shut down the state.
“It’s a stressful time for me and everyone in the industry, country, and world,” wrote Savage. “I was on the road for two straight months between, LAPC, Thunder Valley, and Bay 101, and I saw a lot of fear and confusion as it closed in on us so fast.
“I was working in LA for seven weeks from January 15-March with 60 Chinese dealers who became like family and saw their fear level rise. I went back to Vegas for two days for the GPI awards and then had to go to Thunder Valley for WPT and saw the industry being more affected before moving on to Bay 101. I think Bay 101 was the first in California to close, and I believe the first in the country to do so.”
Immediately after the event, Savage flew home and had to self-quarantine for ten days.
“I haven’t felt great with a sore throat and occasional cough, but no fever so I didn’t get checked because I want to save for those with worse symptoms,” wrote Savage.
Here are those ICM calculations.
- Craig Varnell – $159,710
- Kristen Bicknell – $141,520
- Navin Mohan – $132,780
- Tyler Patterson – $113,860
- Anshul Kulshrestha – $101,430
- Michael Tureniec – $91,180
- John Andress – $88,800
- Anthony Zinno – $55,600
- Anthony Spinella – $50,000
- Lexy Gavin – $41,060
Footnote: This is a revised article. The previous report had a misleading headline and contained inaccurate information. I apologise to Matt Savage, the Bay 101 organisers, and the players for any stress these mistakes caused.