This past weekend the poker room at Caesars Palace looked more like a sports bar than a casino as nearly 450 players donned team jerseys for the second annual Dream Team Poker Tournament. The unusual event is one of the only poker tournaments in the country that turns the game into a team sport.
The $1,650 buy-in covered the entry fee and three complimentary custom jerseys. The $222,000 prize pool was divvied up between team and individual awards. A number of known pros turned out for the relatively small buy-in event and one of them was on the team that came out on top.
2006 World Series of Poker Champion Jamie Gold, along with girlfriend Ashley Nataupsky and Houston Waldie were the team champions of this year’s event. Their team, Team Aced, managed to have two team members make it all the way to the final table. Gold finished in 9th place while Nataupsky busted out in 4th place. Their third teammate, Waldie, was eliminated on the first day of play, but the strong finishes of his teammates were enough to take down the $60,000 first place prize. Their winning name comes from Aced Poker, the online poker website that signed Gold to a multi-million dollar deal back in February. The site is part of the Merge Gaming Network.
The final three players agreed to a chop for the individual prize money with first place going to Danny Nelson, who earned $19,000 for his finish. In an unexpected turn of events, Gold was not the only former WSOP Champion at the final table of the event; 1983 WSOP Main Event winner Tom McEvoy finished in 6th. McEvoy was the last remaining player of Pro Team 1, which also featured T.J. Cloutier and recent Bay 101 runner-up Kathy Liebert.
Several teams boasted notable pros on their roster including Team PokerRoad with Joe Sebok and Jeff Madsen, Team Yo Mama with Tiffany Michelle, Maria Ho and Lacey Jones and Team Favorites with Phil Hellmuth, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow and Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Perhaps the longest and most original team name was 6 Hands, 4 Nuts and a Rack featuring yet another former WSOP Champion Jerry Yang, along with Erik Aude and Kristy Gazes. A number of Hollywood celebrities joined in on the fun too, including Mekhi Pfeiffer, Chris Masterson and Shannon Elizabeth.
An invitation-only version of the Dream Team Tournament was held last year and Team Bluff, headlined by poker pro Justin Bonomo, took the title. This year, the Dream Team Poker staff expanded the tournament by increasing the number of teams and making it an open buy-in. They hope to introduce Dream Team tournaments at other casinos in the coming months.
Currently, the future of Dream Team appears bright. The Caesars Palace event sold out in the days leading up to the event and the long roster of famous poker faces boosted the commercial appeal of the tournament. It remains to be seen if the big names will turn out more than once a year to participate in such a unique event, but for now, this past weekend can be considered as a rousing success.

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