A host of top names that include Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton and Kara Scott are still in contention as we approach the penultimate day of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Venice Grand Prix with 18-players remaining.
If you needed a prime example to demonstrate that the pace of live poker is slowing down, then Day Three of the WPT Venice Grand Prix was tailor made for the occasion. It was made excruciatingly slow by players who seemed more interested in the glare of the television cameras than the action at the tables.
The WPT Venice Grand Prix is one of just two WPT events that takes place outside of the U.S and is selected for television coverage – the other being the Grand Prix de Paris – and it is this very reason that pace deadens. The activity of the camera crew around the tables is intense, turning amateur poker players turns into prima donnas of MTV proportions.
With even the simplest of decision taking minutes to muster, it did take a lot of the sparkle out of the game, but there were still a few gems that managed to shine amongst the sticky tar. Mike Sexton is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame, a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet holder, winner of over $5 million in live tournament earnings and main commentator for the WPT series since its inception back in Season I. Sexton often takes a seat in the WPT events, but not since he made the final table of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars event in 2011 has he looked so menacing. Sexton was playing in second gear as he cruised through Day Three to take his place towards the top end of the chip counts as we move into the penultimate day of action.
Kara Scott is another player sparkling underneath the decorative art of the Casino di Venezia. It was 2009, that Scott burst onto the poker scene with a runner-up spot at the Irish Open. Since then Scott has preferred to spend her time working off – rather than on – the felt. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t take her poker seriously – far from it. Scott was all smiles as she also seemingly sauntered through Day Two to finish at the top end of the charts.
Amongst the final 18-players is just one man who has been there, done that and bought the proverbial t-shirt. The TV producer, and writer, of the hit show Weeds, Matt Salsberg, scraped through by the skin of his teeth after losing 2/3rds of his stack making a hero call against Giuseppe Pastura as the action closed towards the end of Day Three. Salsberg took down the WPT Grand Prix de Paris earlier this year and has since made two more final tables to put him in second place in the WPT Player of the Year (POY) race. He may be on the short stack, but that won’t phase Salsberg one little bit.
Other well-known faces remaining in the final 18 include the 2011 WSOP Main Event runner-up Martin Staszko, WSOP bracelet winner Rocco Palumbo and the EPT San Remo champion Ludovic Lacay. All the ingredients for one heck of a TV final table are there, but how many of them make it to the final dish remains to be seen.