Orleans dealer takes employee event

Jun 5, 2007 2:12 AM

A dealer from the Orleans hotel/casino in Las Vegas won the Casino Employees World Championship at the World Series of Poker on Saturday.

Eric Narciso, a 24-year-old poker dealer from Las Vegas, captured the $500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event, which was worth a top prize of $104,701.

Narciso won a cash satellite held by employees of Boyd Gaming to gain his entry into this event. Hence, his $90 investment netted over six figures in profit. He finished in 27th place in this same event at last year’s World Series of Poker.

Narciso is originally from Chicago, Illinois. He is a rap music artist who has "developed a style all his own," according to his web page at MySpace.com.

Nicknamed "QuietLike," he has written and developed many musical tracks which can be heard at the site.

With 1039 players, the World Series event was the second-largest Casino Employees Poker World Championship in the event’s history. The 2006 event had slightly more participants.

Because of the large size of the field, play went long on Day Two. The finalists played nearly 14 hours. The tournament concluded at 6 am.

World’s youngest winner

In other action, on Monday Steve Billirakis from Chicago, Illinois became the youngest ever . gold bracelet winner when he captured the $5,000 buy-in, Mixed Hold’em Championship event.

Billirakis was born on May 23, 1986, which made him 21 years and 11 days at the time of victory. That eclipsed the mark set last year by Jeff Madsen, who was 21 years, 1 month, and 9 days when he won his gold bracelet.

Billirakis says he intends to play several more WSOP events over the next five weeks. That means an age-related record which was thought to perhaps be unbreakable (Jeff Madsen’s two WSOP gold bracelets last year by age 21 years, 1 month, and 18 days) is now in jeopardy.

If Billirakis can win any WSOP tournament prior to the main event this year, he would break Madsen’s record.

The second place finisher was Greg Mueller. The outcome was disappointing to the former professional hockey player. Mueller once played in Europe and attended training camp for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.

Now a poker pro, Mueller was the chip leader after Day One. He came to the final table ranked third in chips. He enjoyed a decisive chip lead a few times when heads-up against Billirakis. However, each time it appeared Mueller might win his first WSOP title, his rival would win a critical pot and re-take the lead.

Nonetheless, Mueller played a phenomenal tournament over the days and is surely due to win a gold bracelet in the future.

There was some concern at the start of the final table that the high betting limits (for the limit half of the event) might create a quick finish. The average chip stack was about 500,000 and with betting limits on the initial round at 30,000-60,000 this gave the players very little lee-way so far as making mistakes or suffering a bad run of cards.

Tournament Director Jack Effel made the proper decision not to adjust the size of the betting limits. In retrospect, his decision turned out to be correct. The final table lasted nearly eight hours and provided plenty of play for the finalists.

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack presented new poker champion Steve Billirakis with his first gold bracelet. The new improved and more expensive design by Swiss watchmaker Corum is certain to be a big hit with poker players. All of the WSOP gold bracelets to be given away in 2007 are on display near the final table stage in the tournament room.

This event marked the debut of a new "stadium look" to the WSOP. The WSOP and ESPN jointly unveiled a large stage with stadium style seating around the final table. There is also a bar and lounge are with tables and chairs on the upper level of viewing area. For spectators, this will be the most comfortable WSOP in history. All final tables broadcast by ESPN are free and open to the public.

Also, this is the first poker event ESPN has ever broadcast in high-definition. Giant plasma screens around the stage showed the players features in far greater detail than in year’s past. The action was also much easier to follow. ESPN and Harrah’s have teamed up to make this the most spectator-friendly event in poker history.