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Hawbaker takes day two lead at Festa Al Lago

18 October 2006

Amateur Brandie Hawbaker rocketed to the top of the Day Two chip count list thanks to a big Full House and leads Brandon Cantu by $150,000 at the Festa Al Lago Main Event.

Hawbaker, a Los Angeles native, has minimal tournament experience. But she's played impeccably thus far and built a $541,000-chip stack that makes her a formidable opponent for the rest of the tournament. Her previous best was 9th place at the Reno Spring Pot of Gold Series worth $655.

Tuesday was unofficially Ladies Night at the Bellagio with two other top women making significant moves up the leader board. Jennifer Harman moved into 11th with $213,000 and Thithi "Mimi" Tran is in 14th with $185,000.

In five seasons of the World Poker Tour, no woman has ever captured a title. But, with three women sitting in the top-15 including two tournament veterans, this may be the WPT contest where the drought ends.

Standing between the women and history is a superstar top-five that includes the reigning 2006 WSOP Event # 1 Champion Cantu, seasoned tournament professional James Van Alstyne, WPT Champion Annand "Victor" Ramdin and current U.S. Poker Champion Alex Jacob.

Combined, the men in positions two thru five have earned more than more than $6 million in major tournaments. And all four have faced the pressures of televised-final tables.

Mike Matusow generated the most excitement when he adamantly protested a rule change. After players "made the money," Tournament director Jack McClelland announced that there would be a table-redraw whenever nine people were eliminated from the tournament.

Matusow received a 20-minute penalty for using profanity during his protest the next few minutes trying to rally players to his cause. A chant of "Free Mike" broke out on the floor, causing McClelland to change his mind.

Matusow returned without serving one second of this 20 minute penalty. However, he was soon knocked from the tournament.

Other notables remaining in the 64-player field are poker legend Eric Seidel, WSOP Main Event Champions Juan Carlos Mortensen and Dan Harrington, WPT Champions Joe Pelton, Michael Mizrachi and Alan Goehring, Professional Poker Tour Champion Chris Bigler and multiple WSOP bracelet winner Scott Fischman.


Mucking McLane
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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.