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Turkewitsch Wins North American Poker Championship

Amateur Player Takes Down Tough Final Table To Win $1.3 Million In WPT Event

Five Canadian-born players, one American poker superstar, all in the fight for a $1.3 million first-place cash prize. O Canada! Welcome to the North American Poker Championship final table.

The event was held in the poker arena-like setting of the Fallsview Casino Hotel's Avalon Ballroom, and the six finalists, survivors of a 497-player starting field, arrived to a packed house of predominantly Canadian fans, many of whom waited outside for seats hours in advance.

Following the louder-than-average player introductions, in which even outsider superstar John Juanda received a huge ovation, the World Poker Tour televised final table started at 5:07 p.m. ET with $15,000-$30,000 blinds and $3,000 antes.

The chip counts and seating were as follows:

1. Jason Sagle - $2,970,000 (seat No. 3)
2. John Lam - $2,285,000 (seat No. 4)
3. Soren Turkewitsch - $1,690,000 (seat No. 5)
4. James "KrazyKanuck" Worth - $1,305,000 (seat No. 1)
5. Marc Karam - $1,290,000 (seat No. 2)
6. John Juanda - $425,000 (seat No. 6)

Backed by the second-rowdiest cheering section in the Avalon Ballroom (first place easily went to Soren Turkewitsch's group), Ultimate Bet pro James "KrazyKanuck" Worth kicked off Canada's first $10,000 WPT final table by moving all in over the top of a Marc Karam bet.

While the first hand provided excitement for the packed stands, Worth's uncontested win led to a lull in action. The dry spell ended when John Lam's full house bested Jason Sagle's trip jacks. The win gave the 24-year-old Toronto native the chip lead.

On the 22nd hand of play, Marc Karam, a 26-year-old pro from Ottawa, became the first elimination of the final table. Karam reraised a $400,000 raise by Soren Turkewitsch, and found himself in a huge hole when he flipped over pocket jacks and Turkewitsch showed pocket aces. The 8heart 7heart 5diamond 5spade 4heart board brought no help, and Karam exited play the sixth-place finisher ($169,027).

Jason Sagle avoided elimination, and earned some payback, when his pocket aces held against John Lam's pocket fives. While Sagle and Lam clashed on two all-in hands in early play, John Juanda seemed unable to find a caller no matter how many times he put his chips in the middle. The Full Tilt pro, considered by many of his opponents to be the biggest threat despite being on the short stack, moved all in 11 times without receiving a call.

Play lasted until the final table's third level before Juanda found action on an all-in hand, only he was the caller. Juanda pushed his chips in from the big blind after Soren Turkewitsch moved all in as the small blind. A race situation developed between the chip boss and the short stack when Turkewitsch turned over 9heart 9spade and Juanda showed Aspade Qheart. The 7spade 5club 4spade 2club board gave Juanda numerous outs, but he missed all of them with the 6heart river. The table's most feared player walked off to a standing ovation in fifth place ($217,320).

An hour after Juanda's departure, the table's other most recognizable pro bowed out of tournament contention. Following his all-in move on the first hand, James "KrazyKanuck" Worth found few playable hands and gradually became the table's short stack. He pushed in his remaining $1,190,000 against a bet by James Sagle, and was in need of a lot of help when he found his Aheart Qheartup against Sagle's Aclub Kclub. No queens or hearts came on the board, and Worth finished in fourth place ($289,760).

With the North American Poker Championship title already guaranteed to go to a Canadian player, the remaining participants moved in to three-handed action. Soren Turkewitsch entered play as the chip boss, but a series of lost pots dropped him to the bottom of the leader board.

An all-in move with Aspade Kspade against John Lam's Adiamond Jclub changed the course of the final table by helping Turkewitsch reclaim his No. 1 spot and crippling Lam in the process. Down to his last $800,000 Lam suffered his final loss, and earned a third-place finish ($352,541), when his all-in move with 10heart 5spade collided with Turkewitsch's Aheart Qheart.

Lam's elimination left two players to battle for the World Poker Tour title. The chip counts going into heads-up action were:

1. Soren Turkewitsch - $6,135,000
2. James Sagle - $3,830,000

Any hopes Turkewitsch had of a quick match disappeared nine hands into play when Sagle doubled up after his pocket fours held against Turkewitsch's Adiamond Qclub. Sagle built momentum from the win and raked a series of uncontested pots to take the chip lead.

Sagle appeared to be on his way to his first WPT until … he made the right call. With the stacks close to even, Turkewitsch pushed all in preflop. Sagle went into the tank before saying, "I think you're bluffing," and made the call. The read proved to be right when Turkewitsch turned over Adiamond 3club and Sagle showed Aclub 9diamond.

The 9heart 5spade 2spade flop paired Sagle's nines but gave Turkewitsch a straight draw. With his fans chanting "Four, four, four," the 4diamond came on the turn. The win shot Turkewitsch up to the $9.6 million mark and dropped Sagle to around $400,000.

Sagle doubled up twice after the hand, cutting the lead to $5 million, but the 30-year-old poker pro failed to diminish the gap any further. Forced to make a move when the action reached blinds of $300,000-$600,000 and $50,000 antes, Sagle called an all-in bet with his last $3,260,000. His Aspade 5diamond gave him the lead over Turkewitsch's Kheart 2diamond, but the Jspade 7diamond 6club 4heart 2heart board paired Turkewitsch's deuce and the 2006 North American Poker Championship came to a close.

Fans on both sides of the heads-up match applauded Sagle for his final table performance, which paid $676,107.

For Turkewitsch, an automobile factory employee from Ontario, winning the first WPT title held on Canadian soil, and the $1,352,224 cash prize, took two things: patience, and luck.

"I waited for hands for a long, long time and got lucky when I needed to get lucky," Turkewitsch said after his North American Poker Championship victory.

While plans to turn pro are not in the near future, the new WPT millionaire, and his cheering section, promised to make a trip stateside in April, for the World Poker Tour Championship event at the Bellagio.