The 2008 Party Poker Premier League has begun. Twelve poker players are now fighting to win a piece of the prize pool that is now totaling $1 million. Nine of the twelve competed in the Party Poker Premier League in 2007. These players are Andy Black, Dave “The Devilfish” Ulliott, Phil Hellmuth, Tony Guoga, Eddy Scharf, Ian Frazer, Roland de Wolfe, Vicky Coren, and the 2007 champion, Juha Helppi. Joining them at the table will be the three newcomers, Alex Kravchenko, Annie Duke, and Marcel LÃ¼ske, “The Flying Dutchman.”
The Party Poker Premier League is made up of six-handed tournaments, and in the preliminary rounds each player will compete for points in six six-handed matches. The first place winner of each heat will be awarded nine points, second place gets five points, third gets three points, fourth place gets two points, fifth place gets one point, and no points are awarded for a last place finish. At the end of the preliminary rounds, the four players with the highest point totals will automatically move on to the final table while the four players with the lowest point totals are eliminated from the competition. The remaining four players will battle it out in a series of heads-up matches to see who takes the final two spots at the final table. Players will begin play at the final table with chip stacks proportionate to the amount of points that they have earned.
The first heat of Day 1 featured Annie Duke, Tony Guoga, Juha Helppi, Phil Hellmuth, Marcel LÃ¼ske, and Dave Ulliott. Helppi would be the first victim of the day, losing to Annie Duke when his K7 could not overcome Annie’s A6. Helppi was gone with no points. Marcel would eliminate The Devilfish from play in fifth place after Marcel’s KJ hit a king on the flop to beat Ulliott’s A5.
Annie Duke’s A2 was dominated by Phil Hellmuth’s A10, and Hellmuth thought he was going to double up through Annie. However, the deuce on the flop sent Phil to the rail in fourth place. Annie would continue her roll by eliminating Marcel LÃ¼ske when her pocket eights held up in a race against Marcel’s KJ. Going into heads-up play, Annie held a 2-to-1 chip lead over Tony Guoga.
Tony Guoga made a comeback in heads-up play and finished the heat when his AJ beat Duke’s A4. After the first heat, Tony had taken the early lead in the standings with nine points.
The second heat on Day 1 held Black,Frazer, Coren, Kravchenko, Scharf, and de Wolfe. Andy Black was the last place finisher in heat 2, exiting after de Wolfe’s AJs made a flush on the river to defeat Black’s pocket nines. Vicky Coren was next to fall, reraising Eddy Scharf with Q10 only to discover to her dismay that Scharf held A10. After no help from the board, Coren exited in fifth place. Eddy Scharf would then eliminate Ian Frazer in fourth place. Frazer held Q8, but Scharf held pocket aces and no help came for Frazer. Scharf would be sent to the rail in third place when he pushed all-in with pocket eights and Alex Kravchenko called with pocket nines.
Alex Kravchenko and Roland de Wolfe battled hard to attain the victory and the nine points that went with it. The match ended when Kravchenko was all-in with pocket fours and de Wolfe’s J8 hit a jack on the turn to make a better pair than Kravchenko’s fours.
After two heats, Tony Guoga and Roland de Wolfe had nine points, Annie Duke and Alex Kravchenko had five points, Marcel LÃ¼ske and Eddy Scharf had three points, Phil Hellmuth and Ian Frazer had two points, Dave Ulliott and Vicky Coren had one point, and Juha Helppi and Andy Black had zero points.