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2:05 AM: Long Nguyen Eliminated in 6th Place ($57,869)
Level 36 – Blinds (80,000/160,000/20,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 6
Chip Average: 3,546,666


Long Nguyen shoved all in from under the gun with KQ, and Hasan Haq called holding AQ in the hijack.  The flop fell AQ9610.  After a very close count of chips, it was determined that Nguyen still had 55,000 remaining.  The very next hand, Long was all in for less in the small blind (35,000).  Kim Dao Nguyen raised to 400,000 from under the gun to isolate, and all remaining players folded.  Long showed 93, and Kim Dao showed A10.  The board ran out J1079Q.  Kim Dao would take the pot with her pair of tens.

The five remaining players will now bag and tag for the night.  All five of them will return tomorrow at 2:00 pm for the televised final table.

1:45 AM: Allen Baker Eliminated in 7th Place ($45,035)
Level 36 – Blinds (80,000/160,000/20,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 7
Chip Average: 3,040,000


Allen Baker shoved all in from the hijack, and David Morton called for more in the small blind.  Baker tabled QQ, and Morton showed KK.  The board ran out J62AA Morton’s kings would hold and World Series of Poker bracelet winner Allen Baker would be eliminated in 7th place, paying $45,035.   

12:30 AM: Brian Green Eliminated in 8th Place ($35,452)
Level 34 – Blinds (50,000/100,000/10,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 8


Facing an open from Hasan Haq, Brian Green shoved all in on the button for around 550,000.  Haw quickly called, and turned over QQ.  Green exposed ace-nine off.  The board ran out K6546eliminating Green in 8th place with a $35,452 payday. This marks the first cash in the Poker Night in America series for the native Texan, but he will add the $35,452 to his impressive $1,144,731 total live earnings.

12:15 AM: Andy Spears Eliminated in 9th Place ($28,238)
Level 33 – Blinds (40,000/80,000/10,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 9


Action folded to Andy Spears in the cutoff who shoved all in for nine big blinds, and Hasan Haq called in the small blind. Spears turned over KJ and Haq showed A4.  The board ran out A526J.  Haq will take down the pot with his pair of aces, and Spears is eliminated in 9th place taking home $28,238.  This marks Spears’ 2nd Poker Night in America final table showing.

12:00 AM: Robert Shuptrine Eliminated in 10th Place ($22,757)
Level 33 – Blinds (40,000/80,000/10,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 10


Kim Dao Nguyen limped in from under the gun.  Action folded to Robert Shuptrine (pictured) in the cutoff who shoved all in, and Hasan Haq called in the big blind.  Nguyen announced that she was all in for more, and Haq stood up from his chair and asked the dealer first how much he had already called, and second how much more he would need to call.  The dealer determined that he already called 1,230,000, and that he would need to call an additional 1,900,000.  Haq thought for over two minutes before reluctantly releasing his hand.  Nguyen turned over AA, and Shuptrine showed QQ. The board ran out J62310♣, sending Shuptrine to the rail.  Nguyen is now sitting with 7,100,000 and is the new chip leader.  Haq is left with with 3,850,000. 

11:30 PM: Final Ten Players Redraw
Level 33 – Blinds (40,000/80,000/10,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 10

Seat 1 – Kim Dao Nguyen – 3,300,000
Seat 2 – Gregg Merkow – 1,775,000
Seat 3 – Brian Green – 850,000
Seat 4 – David Morton – 2,100,000
Seat 5 – Rich Dixon – 2,600,000
Seat 6 – Andy Spears – 750,000
Seat 7 – Robert Shuptrine – 1,900,000
Seat 8 – Long Nguyen – 1,375,000
Seat 9 – Allen Baker – 1,670,000
Seat 10 – Hasan Haq – 3,700,000

11:25 PM: Joe Caffaro Eliminated in 11th Place ($22,757)
Level 33 – Blinds (40,000/80,000/10,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 11


A player opened in middle position, and Hasan Haq shoved all in from the cutoff.  Joe Caffaro shoved all in for 560,000 effective on the button, and all other players folded. Haq showed K♣3and his opponent showed A3.  The board ran out K9♣725♠ eliminating Caffaro in 11th place.

The final ten players will redraw for their new seats at the final table.

10:40 PM: Anthony Spinella Eliminated in 16th Place ($15,280)
Level 31 – Blinds (25,000/50,000/5,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 16
Chip Average: 1,330,000


A big hand was happening at a neighboring table, and just as it concluded we looked over to see the dealer counting out first Andy Spears, and then Anthony Spinella’s chips.  The board still sitting in the middle of the table read 8♣63♣79♣, and Spears has K♠6♣ sitting in front of him.  Rich Dixon was talking aloud about whether or not he made the correct fold, “I thought he had the 6 of clubs, but I thought he might have another club to go along with it.”

After the dealer concluded her count, she called the floor for a payout, and Anthony Spinella would be our 16th place finisher taking home $15,280.  This cash pushes Spinella over the $2,000,000 in lifetime earnings mark. – Molly Mossey

10:00 PM: Final Two Tables
Level 30 – Blinds (20,000/40,000/5,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 16
Chip Average: 1,330,000

Two players were eliminated right after the 18 player redraw, but heading into the final break here are the final 16 players with their new seating assignments and chip counts.

Table 1:
Seat 1 – Travis Dorsey – 875,000
Seat 2 – Andy Dennis – 860,000
Seat 3 – Kim Dao Nguyen – 1,600,000
Seat 4 – Gregg Merkow – 3,450,000
Seat 5 – Brian Green – 930,000
Seat 6 – Allen Baker – 760,000
Seat 7 – David Morton – 835,000
Seat 8 – Robert Shuptrine – 940,000

Table 2:
Seat 1 – Rich Dixon – 1,420,000
Seat 2 – Long Nguyen – 1,130,000
Seat 3 – Matt Newcombe – 980,000
Seat 4 – Hasan Haq –  2,100,000
Seat 5 – Joe Caffaro – 730,000
Seat 6 – Phylis Blanton – 760,000
Seat 7 – Anthony Spinella – 1,050,000
Seat 8 – Andy Spears – 1,130,000

– Molly Mossey

9:15 PM: From Three Bigs to the Final 20
Level 29 – Blinds (15,000/30,000/5,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 20
Chip Average: 1,064,000


Hasan Haq raises to 75,000 from under the gun, Phylis Blanton called in middle position, and Andy Spears makes it 260,000 in the cutoff.  Action folds to Rich Dixon (pictured) in the big blind who tanks for over a minute and a half before announcing that he is all in.  Haq and Blanton both fold, and with action back on Spears, he throws in a chip to call and says, “I just can’t keep em. Cool.”  Nearly the whole table starts laughing at Spear’s nonchalant crying call.  Spears turned over K♠J, but was far behind Dixon who turned over AK.  The board ran out queen high, awarding Dixon a full double up.

After the hand was over Dixon explained that he is extremely lucky to still be in this tournament.  Apparently at the dinner break of flight B yesterday he had 160,000 in chips but “didn’t win a hand in five hours,” and ended the day with 72,500. Since bag and tag was a little after 2:00am, he went and checked into a hotel, set his alarm, and went to sleep.  Unfortunately, his phone died overnight and he woke up at 12:30, 30 minutes after play had started for the day.  He rushed to get ready, drove to Choctaw as fast as he could, but by the time he arrived he was already down to four big blinds.  His first hand he doubled with nines in the small blind.  His second hand he picked up ace king on the button and took a small pot, and it was all uphill from there.

“This is the first time all day that I have had above average. The first time, all day.”

Mike Perrone, seated directly to Spears’ right said to Dixon, “Welcome to the fun part of the tournament…where everything counts, and nothing matters…”

– Molly Mossey

8:35 PM: Andy Spears Finds a Double, Searching for $1mil Lifetime Earnings
Level 29 – Blinds (15,000/30,000/5,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 20
Chip Average: 1,064,000


Action folded around to Andy Spears on the button who announced that he was all in.  Abraham Caran paused in the small blind, and then announced he was all in for more, and the big blind folded.  Spears muttered to his friend sitting next to him, “I just can’t find a spot, ever,” as he turned over 44.  His opponent showed A♠K♣.  The board ran out safe for Spears, awarding him a full double up.  Someone at the table needled Spears saying, “Oh so that’s how you do it.  Just shove 25 bigs.”  To which Spears responded, “Of course I’m shoving there.  It’s a must-shove.”  Spear’s friend at the table said while looking over at the PNIA blog staff, “So put that in your blog and smoke it,” and a few players at the table giggled.

Spears hails from Buffalo New York and is certainly a well-seasoned tournament player.  He has just under $1,000,000 in lifetime earnings and a World Series of Poker Circuit ring under his belt.  This will be Spear’s first every Poker Night in America cash, and at the moment he is guaranteed at least $12,726.  If Spears takes 7th place or better, he will officially be over the $1,000,000 lifetime earnings mark.

8:00 PM: Final 27 Came Quickly
Level 28 – Blinds (10,000/20,000/3,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 24
Chip Average: 886,666

Players were only back from dinner break for a mere 20 minutes before the field was thinned to the final 27 players.  Those 27 very quickly became 24 within the first three minutes of play.  Below you will find a list of notable players still in the running.

Gregg Merkow – 2,200,000 (chip leader)
Brain Green – 1,100,000
Everett Register – 1,020,000
Hasan Haq – 900,000
Anthony Spinella – 653,000
Andy Spears – 650,000
Matt Bond – 500,000

As noted, Gregg Merkow is still leading the pack.  He doubled up earlier with a set of sevens to be the first player over the one million chip mark.  In the last three hours he has more than doubled his stack and is really the table captain no matter which seat/table he is moved to. – Molly Mossey

6:15 PM: Matt Glantz Eliminated By Hasan Haq, Dinner Break Next
Level 27 – Blinds (10,000/20,000/3,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 42
Chip Average: 506,667


Rush Street Productions’ Matt Glantz is often seen as the “face” of Poker Night in America so it was only fitting that he was eliminated with television camera crews filming.  We reported a few minutes ago that Glantz was left short after doubling up an opponent with ace king versus kings, leaving him with only 4 big blinds.  So even facing an open, and a shove, Glantz still shoved all of his chips into the middle from the small blind.  The original raiser tanked for a few minutes before mucking his cards.  Glantz showed 10♣8 against Haq’s KQ.  The board ran out queen high eliminating Glantz from play.

Players have just 15 minutes until dinner break.  Stay tuned to our PNIA blog when we bring you all of the action as it resumes after the dinner break. – Molly Mossey

5:50 PM: Joe Coffaro Doubles Through Matt Glantz
Level 26 – Blinds (8,000/16,000/2,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 43
Chip Average: 494,884

Joe Coffero

Joe Coffaro appears to be a new player to the game of poker with only one Hendon Mob cash on his record, from January of this year.  But perhaps knowing that it was a 3rd place finish in the World Series of Poker Circuit event here in Choctaw to the tune of $91,052 helps put perspective on how the seemingly new player managed to find a place in the final 43 players of this $1,675 Main Event.

A player under the gun limps in, and Coffaro limps behind.  One other player in middle position limps as well, and Matt Glantz raises to 95,000 in the small blind.  The original limper folds, and Coffaro shoves all in.  It folds back to Glantz who quickly called.  Glantz turned over AK♣, but Coffaro was in the lead holding KK♠.  The 98♠6♠ flop and 8♣ turn left Coffaro’s pair of kings in the lead.  When the K came on the river Coffaro was awarded a full double up with his full house.  The dealer counted out Coffaro’s chips and then passed 445,000 from Glantz’s stack over to Coffaro.  Glantz is left short with only 66,000 (about 4 big blinds), while Coffaro is sitting just under the million chip mark now. 

– Molly Mossey

5:05 PM: Gregg Merkow Takes the Lead, First Over One Million
Level 25 – Blinds (6,000/12,000/2,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 58
Chip Average: 366,897


Two time World Series of Poker Circuit Ring winner Greg Merkow just became the chip leader of the $1,675 Poker Night in American Main Event after having started the day with only 68,700.

There were five limpers to see the KJ♠7♠ flop.  The player under the gun bet 48,000, Gregg Merkow called in early position, and Araya Abraham shoved all in for 141,000.  Action folded back to the player under the gun who called the 141,000, and Merkow called as well.  Both players checked the Q turn and 2 river.  Abraham turned over KQ♣ for two pair, but Merkow exposed 77 for a set.  The player under the gun mucked his cards without showing.  Merkow is now the first player to break the million chip mark with 1,100,000.

Merkow has an impressive $1.7 million in career earnings with many first places along the way.  Most recently his winnings have taken place locally.  He cashed in two WSOPc events here at Choctaw in January of this year, and also took 28th in the beginning of April in the $65 PNIA No Limit Hold’em event, also right here in Durant.  While this won’t be Merkow’s first PNIA score, it most definitely will be his biggest as he is guaranteed at least $4,350 at this point. 

– Molly Mossey

4:20 PM: Anthony Spinella Six-Bet Shoves
Level 24 – Blinds (6,000/12,000/2,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 69
Chip Average: 308,406


Anthony ‘Holdplz’ Spinella is a very well known professional poker player with over $1,200,000 in live earnings, and $4,600,000 in documented online earnings prior to Black Friday.  Perhaps his most recognizable live tournament win occured last summer when he won the World Series of Poker inaugural online bracelet event.  It was Spinella’s first WSOP gold bracelet and it came with a $197,743 payday.   

Today Spinella is showing his aggressive side and putting his opponents to the test.  A player in the cutoff raised it up to 27,000 and Anthony Spinella four-bet to 95,000 in the small blind.  His opponent five-bet to 160,000, and Spinella shoved all in, forcing his opponent to make a decision for his tournament life.  His opponent tanked for nearly a minute before reluctantly flicking his cards into the muck (shown in the photo above).  “Nice hand,” table mate Matt Bond said to Spinella.  “Thank you,” Spinella politely and confidently responded.

– Molly Mossey

3:30 PM: Allen Baker Doubling and Quietly Climbing
Level 23 – Blinds (5,000/10,000/1,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 77
Chip Average: 276,363


Native Texan Allen Baker may not be instantly recognizable, but his play over the course of today has caught our eye on more than one occasion.  Quiet and unassuming, Baker wears large noise cancelling headphones and a hat pulled down low.  At first glance he appears to be just another middle aged man, but given his excellent live tournament results totaling $563,797, and the fact that he has two World Series of Poker bracelets, he is definitely an experienced player.  Baker’s first three cashes on Hendon Mob are all 1st places, two of them in World Series of Poker Bracelet Events totaling $321,250.

Baker started the day with 165,500.  Earlier in the day before the money bubble burst we found Baker forcing an opponent to make a tough decision for his tournament life.  His opponent in the small blind had bet 26,500 on a board reading J96♣, and Baker shoved all in for 170,000 in the big blind. His opponent went into the tank and eventually folded his hand.

This level we found Baker in a hand where he had raised it up in early position, his opponent in the cutoff reraised, and Baker shoved all in for his tournament life.  The cutoff moved forward a stack of chips to call.  Baker was in great shape holding K♣K♠ against his opponent’s QQ.  The board ran out safe for Baker awarding him a full double.  He methodically took the time to restack his chips, slowly put his headphones back on, adjusted his hat, and prepared for continued play.  Baker now sits with 460,000 in chips.

A few other notable chip stacks still in the field:

Matt Glantz – 650,000
Anthony Spinella – 570,000
Tommy V – 520,000
Dave Gutfreund – 375,000
Dan Dizenzo – 360,000
Chris Lyons – 350,000
Nick Pupillo – 285,000
Denise Good – 205,000
Esther Taylor-Brady – 100,000

– Molly Mossey

3:00 PM: Money Bubble Breaks, Notable Short Stacks Live On
Level 22 – Blinds (4,000/8,000/1,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 100
Chip Average: 212,800

Two players were eliminated in the same round and will be splitting the $2,849.  With that, the remaining players are all officially in the money with their eye on the $286,402 top prize.

There were a few very short stacked players that managed to make it through into the money.  Interestingly enough, two of those short stacks doubled up right after the bubble burst, and both in the small blind against the big blind.

Reggi Trotter shoved all in for around 30,000 and the big blind quickly called. The big blind showed AJ, and Trotter shrugged his shoulders as he turned over Q3.  The Q♠73♣ flop turned the tables when Trotter made two pair to take the lead.  The A♣ turn gave Trotter’s opponent a pair of aces, but the K♠ river was safe awarding him a full double. 


DJ MacKinnon (pictured) shoved his last 18,000 chips into the middle from the small blind without looking at his cards, and the player in the big blind called.  When MacKinnon turned over A♣K he seemed genuinely surprised to see the premium hand. His opponent turned over Q♠J. The board ran out K♣Q2♣94 awarding MacKinnon a full double.

“I just know how to play the five bigs optimally,” MacKinnon said.  Anthony Spinella responded, “Comfort stack…”

– Molly Mossey

2:15 PM: Round For Round, On the Money Bubble
Level 22 – Blinds (4,000/8,000/1,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 109
Chip Average: 195,229

Here at Choctaw they do things a little differently on the money bubble.  It’s most common to do hand for hand play until the money bubble burst, but due to the massive size of fields at this particular casino, they do “round for round”.  Essentially that means that each table plays a full orbit of hands, and if more than one player is eliminated from the field, they split the min cash money.  So for example, if three people are eliminated, those three players split the first two pay outs.  When asked why they chose to do it this way a player was told that it speeds up hand for hand play, and makes it easier on the staff as they often see massive amounts of players turn out for their tournaments.

Pro poker player Anthony Spinella asks the dealer and the table to clarify round for round, questioning why they don’t just do it by individual chip stack.  Both the dealer and DJ MacKinnon (at Spinella’s table) explained that due to the size of the fields it would sometimes be nearly impossible to determine chip stack sizing with multiple people busting out at the same time.  Round for round seems to make the most logistical sense.

Round for round started at the end of the last level with no one getting eliminated in the first round.  Players are now on a 15 minute break and the money bubble is likely to break shortly after. – Molly Mossey

1:45 PM: Matt Bond On the Rise
Level 21 – Blinds (3,000/6,000/1,000)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 119
Chip Average: 178,824


Matt Bond is no stranger to tournament success or to Choctaw casino.  In April of 2015 he took down the $240 Card Player Poker Tour here at Choctaw, and has since gone on to cash a myriad of events all across the country.  Just last month he took 2nd in the World Series of Poker Circuit in Baltimore for $180,750.  With so much success in tournament poker it’s not too surprising to see Bond running deep in the Poker Night in America Main Event.  Bond started the day with 144,500 in chips and has been steadily climbing ever since.

On a board reading 8 3♣ 2♣ Bond bet 23,000 in the cutoff and Pedro Rios raised to 58,000 on the button.  With action back on Bond, he thought for a moment before announcing that he was all in, putting Rios’ tournament life at risk if he made the call.  Rios tanked for nearly a minute, looked at his remaining 105,000 in chips, and opted to fold.  With that pot Bond is now sitting with just about 300,000 in chips and is gaining serious momentum as we draw closer and closer to the money bubble. – Molly Mossey

12:45 PM: Hasan Haq Introduces Himself to the Field
Level 20– Blinds (2,500/5,000/500)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 135
Chip Average: 157,629


Hasan Haq flew somewhat under the radar for most of Day 1B, but entered into Day 2 as one of the top chip stacks.  After steadily accumulating chips in his Day 1 flight he entered today with 331,500. 

While Haq has a strong chip advantage, he also has arguably one of the most difficult starting tables in the room seated right smack in the middle of the table between Brandon Cantu and Matt Glantz. Glantz started the day 2nd in chips, and Haq in 5th. He also has Chris Lyons on his left who started the day with 250,000 in 10th place.

Over the course of the first level we walked by the table multiple times to find Haq involved in hands which shows he obviously isn’t afraid to get involved in pots. 

Haq raised it up to 10,000 and got three callers.  Both blinds checked the J♠9♣4♠ flop and Haq continued for 28,000.  All players folded to him.  This seems to be the theme at this table, with Glantz and Haq acting as “Table Captains” taking their turns raising it up, and taking pots down while generally avoiding getting involved in hands with each other.

Haq is now sitting with around 355,000 and looks to continue climbing. 

– Molly Mossey

12 PM: Cards In The Air For ‘Moving Day’
Level 19 – Blinds (2,000/4,000/500)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 154
Chip Average: 138,000

The table assignments have been posted, the bags are empty and the players are in their seats which means the start of this Day 2 restart is officially upon us. This moving day session will see players play 40 minute levels throughout and that relatively quick pace could see this early field drop quickly as we play into the money.

That money bubble likely won’t come into play for a few levels but regardless of when the bubble does burst, the PNIA blog will be bringing you all the action from the PNIA Choctaw Main Event. – Will OC

11:40 AM: Payout Reminder Before Restart, 108 ITM
Level 19 – Blinds (2,000/4,000/500)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 154
Chip Average: 138,000

While the official Poker Night in America Choctaw Main Event payouts were posted during yesterday’s Day 1B coverage, we know players are going to want them at their disposal throughout this Day 2 restart. So, for players convenience, they’re posted below for easy access throughout today’s session. 

In total, just under 1,065 entrants built up a nearly $1,550,000 prize pool and while we are a ways away from the money bubble coming into Day 2, 108 players will cash in this event. There is a nearly $2,850 min-cash awaiting those players but we imagine everyone in this event will be looking to the top of the pay scale, where $286,000 awaits the eventual champion.

Three players will be making a six-figure score this weekend but those payouts won’t be distributed until Monday’s five-handed final table but until then, the official PNIA Choctaw Main Event payouts are listed below:

1. $286,402
2. $177,074
3. $131,590
4. $98,925
5. $75,223
6. $57,869
7. $45,035
8. $35,452
9. $28,238
10-12. $22,757
13-15. $18,546
16-18. $15,280
19-21. $12,726
22-24. $10,713
25-27. $9,118
28-30. $7,849
31-33. $6,827
34-36. $6,007
37-45. $5,341
46-54. $4,799
55-63. $4,350
64-72. $3,979
73-81. $3,654
82-90. $3,359
91-99. $3,096
100-108. $2,849

– Will OC

11:20 AM: Chivukula Leads Restart, ‘Moving Day’ Playing Down To FT
Level 19 – Blinds (2,000/4,000/500)
Total Entries: 1,064
Players Remaining: 154
Chip Average: 138,000

When the dust settled last night, 154 players had punched their tickets for Day 2 of the Poker Night in America Choctaw Main Event. Of those returning players, 57 of them came from the first Day 1A flight and while the top stacks from that opening session mainly hailed from the Beast Coast, Day 1B’s leaders had more of a local flavor.

Venkat ‘Kaly’ Chivukula was the biggest of them all and he’ll now lead this returning field into moving day with just shy of 485,000. Matt Glantz, who has had some success in past PNIA Main Events, will come in second, after bagging just shy of 450,000 on Friday. Dan DiZenzo, Jackson White and Hasan Haq round out the top-five, with all bagging over 300,000 but even though there are some big names up top, this Day 2 field will not be an easy one to navigate.

First, players will have to work their way into the money, with 108 cashing in this $1,000,000 GTD Main Event, and then they’ll have to play their way to a five-handed final table. That final handful will then return tomorrow to crown a champion and that final table will be live streamed and filmed for television, for Poker Night in America’s The Final Table.

It’s sure to be a long but exciting road to that final table and the PNIA blog will be here throughout Day 2 to bring you all the action. Updates from the field will begin as soon as cards get in the air at 12 PM and complete Day 2 seating assignments and chip counts can be found here. – Will OC

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