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Jonathan Little Wins the WPT Mirage Poker Showdown

A Young, Consistent Star Emerges From an Impressive Final Table

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The first stop on the season six schedule of the World Poker Tour gave us two firsts. One was the new hostess, Layla Kayleigh. The British bombshell rallied the crowd with trivia on breaks, and brought an international flair to the show. The second was the emergence of a new WPT champion who is a familiar face to the tournament trail.

This particular final table was a constant fluctuation in pace. Periods of fast-paced action were followed by droughts, where flops were in short supply. Things started fast out of the gate, though, and the first contestant was sent to the rail on hand two. Amnon Filippi bet $70,000 and action was folded to Cory Carroll, who called. Phil Ivey also called. The flop was dealt K J10 and Ivey checked. Filippi bet $135,000 and Carroll raised $220,000 more. Ivey folded and Filippi moved all in. Carroll called and showed A 7. Filippi showed A Q. The turn and river cards were dealt 6 2 and Filippi finished in sixth place ($100,865).

The atmosphere among the crowd was electric after this quick exit, but things would take a turn moving forward. En route to the first break, it was not uncommon to go eight hands in a row without seeing a flop. After the first break, things only got worse. In the first 25 hands after the players returned, only four went to a flop. Then it was time for another shift.

Jonathan Little bet $120,000 and Phil Ivey called. The flop came 8 8 3 and both players checked. The J hit on the turn and Little bet $150,000. Ivey moved all in and Little called. Ivey showed Q 2 and Little turned over A 8. The river card was the A and Ivey was eliminated in fifth place ($129,684). The next player would make his exit, stage left, a mere four hands later. Richard Kirsch moved all in and Little called. Kirsch showed A10 and Little flipped over A J. The board was dealt K 9 2 3 9. Kirsch was eliminated on the hand in fourth place ($172,912).

There were now only three players remaining. Darrel Dicken jumped into the chip lead after taking down a million-dollar pot from Carroll. This was the point of the final table at which Little came back from the dead, and made a push to win the championship. He doubled up in two of the next three hands. First, when he moved all in with $535,000 against Dicken and second, when he moved all in again against Carroll. Little parlayed this busy five-minute stretch into a $2.5 million stack.

Now it was Carroll's turn to make a run. The only difference was that on both occasions his victim happened to be Dicken. Carroll hit a 10-high straight on the river against Dicken, who held two pair, to double up the $1.46 million he had moved into the middle. Carroll would ultimately be the touch of death for Dicken, when he busted him three hands later. Carroll limped from the small blind and Dicken checked. The flop was dealt K 4 2, Carroll bet $100,000 and Dicken moved all in with 5 3. Carroll insta-called with K J and the next two cards came 9 7. Dicken failed to hit his straight draw and was eliminated in third place ($259,369).

Action was now heads up and the chip counts were about dead even:

Jonathan Little: $3,050,000
Cory Carroll: $3,125,000

During the first 20 hands of heads-up play before another break, Carroll took control of the match and induced Little to lay down to his large reraises on three key hands. When they returned from the break, it looked as if Carroll might run away with the title.

Jonathan Little: $2,170,000
Cory Carroll: $4,005,000

This was when Little found a little more double-up magic in his back pocket. Carroll raised to $300,000 and Little moved all in. Carroll called and turned over A 8. Little showed 5 5. The board was dealt 1010 7 K10 and Little doubled up with a full house. Little was all in for $1.58 million and he now held a $1 million advantage over Carroll. The tables had turned.

The finale of their heads-up match had an eerie feeling of déjà vu. Both times, Little had Carroll cornered on the brink of extinction, albeit with a dominated hand. On the first of these hands Carroll limped into the pot and Little moved all in. Little held A 6, while Carroll held A 9. The board was dealt Q J 8 8 2 and they chopped the pot. Six hands later, Carroll raised to $480,000 and Little moved all in. Carroll called with A 7 and Little showed A 2. The board was dealt 10 5 2 2 Q and Little seized the day with his trip twos. Carroll was eliminated in second place ($561,369). Little won the $1,066,295 first-place prize and the 2007 Mirage Poker Showdown championship title. He also received a $25,000 seat in the season six WPT Championship