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Jack Hinchey Wins 888.com $3 Million World Poker Crown

Canadian Plumber Takes Home $1 Million First Prize In Innovative Webcast Event

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After outgunning over 2,200 players a couple of weeks ago online, Jack Hinchey finished off the job in some style in the early hours of this morning's 888.com World Poker Crown. In the amazing historical locale of Peralada Castle, Spain, Hinchey moved away from the computer to defeat seven other finalists and take down the $1million top prize.

With a picture of his granddaughter by his chips and a romantic backstory of hustling pool halls back in Canada for over 30 years, Hinchey was a popular and sentimental favourite. He came in with a big chip lead yet it was anything but plainWPC Winner John Hinchey sailing for him in a field full of talented, young poker players. When play started at 2.30 BST the chips and seat positions looked like this;

Seat 1: Jack Hinchey, Canada, 349,000
Seat 2: Bjorn van Bavel, Netherlands, 41,000
Seat 3: Mark Castonguay, Canada, 52,000
Seat 4: Piotr Stanislaw, Poland, 102,000
Seat 5: Bart Wetsteijn, Netherlands, 139,000
Seat 6: Michael Lawson, Canada, 207,000
Seat 7: Bert van Doesburg, Netherlands, 38,000
Seat 8: Mark Rossler, Germany, 58,000

With a drastic jump in prizes the beginning hour of play was very tight, with barely a flop being seen and a single raise taking down most pots. 888.com had rolled back the blinds for the event which meant that even the short stacks had plenty of room to play some proper poker, and not just reduce the final table to an all-in festival from the start.

Inevitably, though, there was soon a clash and it involved the small blind Bjorn van Bavel and big blind Mark Castonguay. Action was folded round to van Bavel who flat-called with 104. Castonguay checked his option with KJ and both players saw a flop of K104; top pair for Castonguay but bottom two pair for van Bavel. Van Bavel set the trap on the flop by check-raising the short-stacked Castonguay all-in. After taking an age to decide, and fully aware that he was probably in big trouble, Castonguay decided he was priced in and made the call. The turn and river failed to bring any help and Mark Castonguay was eliminated early on for a prize of $30,000.

With most players content to wait for the shorter stacks to knock themselves out, Jack Hinchey started to bulldoze his way through. Raising almost every pot that got folded to him, Hinchey picked up all the dead money on the table and increased his chip lead. Hinchey also showed he wasn’t afraid to take a few gambles as Michael Roessler limped into his big blind with J-8.

Holding K-3, Hinchey checked and the flop came down J-9-2, top pair for the German. Roessler lead out at the pot, only for Hinchey to re-raise with nothing but air. The look on Jack’s face told the story as Roessler announced “all-in”. The only problem was that it was only 25,000 more to Jack, who was effectively getting 4-1 on the call. Sheepishly making the call, a delighted Roessler prepared to be doubled-up. Except he forgot that this was Jack’s day, an unlikely Queen on the turn and 10 on the river providing a runner-runner straight! Roessler took home $60,000 but couldn’t resist a parting shot as he claimed “some people say that that’s just poker but I say he (Jack) just made a donkey play”. Donkey or not, Jack Hinchey had the rest of the table on a knife-edge after making such a call.

WPC Final TableBart von Dousburg was the next man to fall at the hands of Papa Jack. This time no miracles were needed and it was a straight-up coinflip as the desperate von Dousburg pushed with K-9. Hinchey is not one to fold easily though and made the call with a pair of Fives. A low board later and no help for the Dutchman. Von Dousburg finishes in 6th place with a consolation prize of $90,000 to ease his tears.

The final table was turning into the Hinchey show at this point. Every big hand revolved around the big Canadian. Either he was stealing the blinds, doubling the shortstacks up, or eventually knocking them out. On the other side of the table Bart Wetsteijn was taking a more stolid approach, using position and aggression to get himself into second position on the leaderboard. With a 15th place finish at EPT San Remo recently, he looked the player most likely to give Jack a run for his money. Until this amazing hand...

As usual, Hinchey raised it up on the button, this time to 25,000. Wetsteijn in the big blind looked down to see two lovely red Kings. Surprsingly, he just called, looking to win a big pot. The 5-3-2 flop appeared perfect for him as Hinchey continued his aggression and bet 30,000. Wetsteijn immediately moved all-in but was shocked when Hinchey quickly called, showing A-4 for the nut straight! A 3 on the turn brings an unlikely full house possibility for Wetsteijn but a Jack on the river merely seals his fate. Wetsteijn is the victim of his own trap and falls in 5th place, with $120,000 to his name.

Throughout the night, Bjorn van Bavel had consistently played some great poker. He hadn’t been afraid to stick his chips over the line at any sign of weakness from his opponents and was still hanging around despite barely having a playable hand all day.

With the blinds at 6,000 and 12,000 van Bavel took his first misstep and became the latest victim of Jack Hinchey. This time Hinchey had a genuine monster, pocket Queens in the small blind. He made it 36,000 and van Bavel surprisingly just flat-called from the big blind. The 10-8-6 flop provided him with a gutshot straight draw but his 9-9 was still way behind Hinchey’s Q-Q. Hinchey made a pot-sized bet of 80,000 which van Bavel immediately re-raised all-in. The call was made and the Queens held up, a massive 414,000 pot won by Hinchey. The 4th place finisher Van Bavel held his head high as he departed with a massive $140,000 cheque.

Van Bavel was full of praise for Hinchey afterwards saying that his big bet on the flop “completely fooled him”, but warned Jack Hinchey that Michael Lawson would be his biggest threat to securing the title. Lawson thus far had been a bit of an enigma at the table. Quite content to let the others do battle in the big pots, he had rarely got out of line and had just been chipping away here and there. With his mentor World Series of Poker Europe champion Annette Obrestad looking on from the sidelines he effectively had his starting stack of 200,000 still in front of him.

The underdog of the final three was 20-year old Polish student Pietr Stainslaw. At one point down to only five big blinds, Pietr worked his way back into contention with some bold all-ins and a few slices of luck along the way. As each player got eliminated and the prize money went up, the smile on the youngster’s face grew larger and larger, prompting Padraig Parkinson on commentary to label him a “teddy bear everyone wants to take home”!

Unfortunately for Pietr, the fairytale was not to have a happy ending. No prizes for guessing but it was Jack Hinchey who brought an end to the dream. All-in before the flop and Hinchey had the Pole dominated with A-10 vs. A-5. A Ten on the flop all sealed Stanislaw’s fate and he went out a very happy 3rd, with $210,000 to take back to university with him.
Going into heads-up, the chip counts looked like this;

Jack Hinchey: 900,000
Michael Lawson: 212,000

As a testament to the great structure of the event, both Lawson and Hinchey had plenty of chips at the heads-up stage compared to the 6,000/12,000 blinds. There was a difference of more than $600,000 between 1st and 2nd-place to play for.

After playing a tight game all day, Lawson changed gears in the heads-up match and found himself all-in early on with A-6 versus Hinchey’s Q-10. The flop of 8-7-5 put Lawson in the driving seat, with his Ace-high still ahead and an open-ended straight draw for good measure. A 9 on the turn made him the straight and immediately the tie was closer than ever before. Hinchey was still chip leader with 696,000 but could not afford to lose another big pot to Michael Lawson who was lurking in the shadows with 412,000.

The comeback failed to materialise. Every time Lawson attempted to steal the blinds, Hinchey would pick up a real handHead-sup at the WPC final table and re-raise him off the pot. And on that rare occasion that Lawson actually picked up a strong hand, Hinchey would simply fold and not pay him off, frustrating the online pro to no end. Without playing a big pot, Hinchey found himself back in the driving seat with more than 900,000 chips once again.

Limping on the button with KQ, it appeared Hinchey was setting a trap. Lawson, with a pair of Tens, made a raise up to 56,000 which, surprisingly, Hinchey just called. The flop of KJ6 came down, giving Hinchey top pair. Neither of the players held a heart. Showing that he wasn’t going to hang around and be blinded away, Lawson made the bold move of going all-in. Making the call, Hinchey only had to avoid two Tens in the deck to become the first 888.com World Poker Crown champion. As the dealer turned over a Jack on the turn and then a King on the river, Hinchey held his arms up in the air as this year’s champion. For his second place finish, Michael Lawson took home $397,800 while the novelty cheque for a whopping $1m was made out to the Canadian sewage worker Jack Hinchey.

Speaking afterwards, Hinchey said that his strategy was “to keep the pressure on everybody” by making constant raises throughout the day. The plan worked to perfection as Papa Jack ended up eliminating 6 of the other players to become a worthy and very popular first winner of the 888.com World Poker Crown.

 
 
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