By Todd Lamansky
MGM hosted its inaugural Grand Challenge tournament series Oct. 13-23 and Daniel O’Brien took home the top prize. He bested 70 players in the $2,620 main event, which began with 20K chips and had 60-minute levels, to earn his first major tournament win and a $53,250 payday.
His biggest career score was $292,800 for third place at WPT’s Bay 101 Shooting Star event last March. Had the Grand Challenge’s $172,175 prize pool reached $300K, O’Brien would have received a $10,000 seat into the WPT Five Diamond main event at Bellagio on Dec. 10.
The Grand Challenge featured noon tournaments that were two-day affairs mostly costing $340. The 7 p.m. second-chance events were all one-day competitions with a $150 buy-in.
The second-chance tournament on Oct. 15 was a rake-free event sponsored by AllVegasPoker.com that drew 356 entrants and a $30K-plus prize pool.
Tim West, an accomplished live and online pro with more than $5 million in career earnings, took home top honors and the $8K-plus first prize. AVP content manager and Ante Up ambassador Las Vegas Michael Hamai served as emcee for the evening.
MGM also offered participants in the AVP tournament the opportunity to play the remainder of the noon events and super satellites rake-free by crediting all fees to their M Life Players Card accounts in the form of comp dollars (with a $50 cap on the main event).
The winner of all tournaments with a buy-in of at least $340 also won a seat into the MGM Grand Executive Challenge tournament in December.