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WPT: Glen Witmer Wins the 2008 North American Poker Championship

Canadian Amateur Beats Gavin Smith Heads Up for the Title

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Six days of poker with three day-one flights whittled a field of 454 players down to the final six for the final table of the World Poker Tour North American Poker Championship. These final players in the $10,000 no-limit hold’em championship event were all gunning for the $1,090,589 first-place prize, and at the end of the night it would come down to two Canadian players to see who would walk away with that and the NAPC championship title. The 2008 final table had much in common with 2006, as five Canadians joined one veteran tournament professional from the United States as the television cameras got rolling just after 4 p.m. Here were the chip counts at the start of play:

Seat 1: Kathy Liebert -- 1,620,000
Seat 2: Gavin Smith -- 2,815,000
Seat 3: Marc Karam -- 1,850,000
Seat 4: Glen Witmer -- 3,710,000
Seat 5: James Trenholm -- 1,365,000
Seat 6: Ryan Fisler -- 2,285,000

The blinds began at 15,000-30,000 with a 5,000 ante, ensuring each player remaining the chance to play deep-stack poker at the final table. It took 38 hands for the first player to fall, short-stacked James Trenholm. He ran pocket sevens into the pocket kings of Gavin Smith, and he was eliminated in sixth place ($133,137).

Marc KaramCanadian professional Marc Karam has had a history of success at the NAPC. In much the same way he has made a habit of making final tables at the European Poker Tour Grand Final year after year (fourth in 2006, second in 2007), Karam cashed for the third year in a row in Niagara. He was one of the five Canadian at the final table in 2006, where he finished in sixth place and he followed that up with a 25th-place finish last year. This was his second final-table appearance at the NAPC, but he was only able to make it to fifth place ($171,175). Karam’s fate was decided when he moved all in with pocket queens against the A-K of Glen Witmer, who hit an ace on the flop to win the hand.

During four-handed play Witmer continued to win big pots, many of them from Smith, and he ran his stack up to 7 million (more than all three of his opponents combined). Witmer raised to 200,000 on the button on hand 98 and Ryan Fisler reraised to 775,000 from the small blind. The flop was dealt J 9 2 and Fisler moved all in. Witmer quickly made the call and turned over A J. Fisler held A K and he was drawing to slim outs until the J on turn ensured that he was drawing dead, and Fisler was eliminated in fourth place ($228,234). Witmer was now up near 10,000,000, almost 75 percent of the chips in play.

Kathy Liebert’s fate was decided when Smith doubled up through her with A-9 over Q-J when an ace came on the flop of hand 105. Two hands later Witmer finished the job when Liebert called off her short stack preflop with 8 7. Witmer held Q J and the board was dealt K Q 3 5 10. Liebert was eliminated in third place, taking home $277,684 in prize money.

Heads-up chip counts:

Gavin SmithGlen Witmer: 9,830,000
Gavin Smith: 3,815,000

Smith was focused and quiet as he grinded his chip stack back up to 5,500,000 at one point against his amateur opponent. The crowd cheered him on loudly, as he had the lion’s share of the support in his corner as well. In the end, the huge chip stack of Witmer proved too much to overcome, and 49 hands into heads-up play things came to an end. Smith limped on the button and Witmer raised to 500,000 from the big blind. Smith moved all in and Witmer made the call. Their cards:

Smith: 5 5
Witmer: A K

Board: Q J 2 J A

Witmer hit an ace on the river to win the tournament and $1,090,589 in prize money. Smith received $532,545 in prize money for his runner-up finish. The win was Witmer’s first major tournament title. Here are the final-table results:

1st: Glen Witmer -- $1,090,589
2nd: Gavin Smith -- $532,545
3rd: Kathy Liebert -- $277,684
4th: Ryan Fisler -- $228,234
5th: Marc Karam -- $171,175
6th: James Trenholm -- $133,137

NOTE: All prize money is in U.S. dollars.

The next stop on the WPT schedule is the Festa al Lago $15,000 no-limit hold'em championship at Bellagio, which runs from Oct. 20-26, and it will be a Card Player live coverage event.