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PartyPoker.com Million V - Mike Schneider Wins

22-Year-Old Defeats Kenna James to Become Newest PartyPoker Millionaire

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The PartyPoker.com Million V started with 527 players. Five days and two countries later, the final six players were on stage in the Vista Lounge aboard the MS Westerdam, ready to take their shot at the $1 million first prize.

These were the standings heading into the final table.

Mike Schneider $1,280,000 (Seat 5)
Kenna James $1,090,000 (Seat 4)
Andrew Chitiea $840,000 (Seat 3)
Scott Buller $810,000 (Seat 6)
Richard Joel $740,000 (Seat 1)
Devon Miller $470,000 (Seat 2)

While the largest limit hold'em tournament in the world may have been missing some of the top flight poker pros this year, there was no shortage of talent at the final table. Out of the final six, four bought into the event on their own dime. Only Richard Joel and Andrew Chitiea were PartyPoker.com online qualifiers.

Although day three ended with blinds of $20,000-$40,000 and limits of $40,000-$80,000, play at the final table began with blinds of $20,000-$30,000 and limits of $30,000-$60,000 to give the competitors more play.

Devon Miller Out First

It didn't take long for the first elimination to come. Devon Miller made a name for himself on day three with his aggressive play and fast ascent up the leaderboard. The 21-year-old poker pro from Los Angeles ran his chip stack from $76,000 to $700,000 in the first three hours of play. However, he ended the night on the short stack heading into the final table.

Miller's short stack and the high blinds caught up with him quickly. He was eliminated during the first hour of play when he ran into Richard Joel's nut flush. Miller took home $175,000 in prize money for his impressive run. Just barely old enough to play live, and already a successful $400-$800 limit player, Miller certainly solidified himself as one of the up and coming players in the game with his sixth place finish.

Richard Joel Out in Fifth

Joel, a retired casket salesman from Atlanta, Georgia, may have buried Miller, but it wouldn't be long until his own burial at sea. His run ended with a fifth-place finish when his pocket eights ran into Scott Buller's pocket kings.

Nonetheless, Joel's run was impressive. An amateur by his own admission, Joel turned a huge profit, bringing home $225,000, after qualifying for the event on PartyPoker.com for only $34.

Fourth Place for Andrew Chitiea

The last PartyPoker.com qualifier standing was Andrew Chitiea. Chitiea, from Centennial, Colorado, found himself in a tough situation on day three, needing one of three kings or one of two queens with one card to come to stay alive, as he was all in against with K-Q against his opponent's pocket aces. A spiked king on the river rejuvenated Chitiea, and propelled him to the final table, where his luck continued for a short time.


During the $40,000-$80,000 limits level, Chitiea found himself all in, and trailing yet again. This time his K-5 was up against Mike Schneider's pocket sevens before the flop. Chitiea bought a lot of outs after a flop of Aspade Qspade 10spade. Chitiea could catch a jack, a king, or something runner-runner for the chop to stay alive. The situation got worse for Schneider when the turn brought the Adiamond. The river brought a queen, and Chitiea stayed alive.

His lucky hand against Schneider turned out to be only a stay of execution for Chitiea. He survived until the $50,000-$100,000 limit where he eventually got trapped by Kenna James's trip kings

Chitiea took home $300,000 for his fourth-place finish.

Long "Trips" Home for Scott Buller

Scott Buller has a lot of history at the PartyPoker.com Million. Buller, a train conductor from Lincoln, Nebraska, is the only player to make two final tables at the event. He has gone on the cruise every year and cashed four times in his five appearances.

The third time might be a charm if Buller makes it back to the final table next year, but three certainly wasn't a lucky number for him today. In a pivotal pot for Buller, Schneider raised to $120,000 preflop and Buller called. The flop came Jheart 6club 4heart. Schneider led out for $60,000, and Buller made it two bets. Schneider repopped it to $180,000, and Buller called. The turn brought the Jdiamond and again Schneider led out, this time for $120,000. Buller raised to $240,000 and Schneider called. The river brought the 5spade. Now Schneider checked, and Buller bet out $120,000. Schneider called. Buller showed J-2 for trip jacks. Schneider showed trip jacks too, but the 7 kicker in his hand played and left Buller crippled.

The very next hand Buller was all in for the rest of his chips before the flop. James's A-8 made a pair, and Buller's K-Q never caught up. His third-place finish was worth $500,000.

Heads-Up - James vs. Schneider

Buller's exit in third left two very talented poker players heads-up for the $1 million first prize, along with the prestige of being a PartyPoker.com Million champion.

Kenna James is a well-known poker pro from Southern California. As the last established name left in the field, James had to be the favorite to come away with the title. He was consistent throughout the event, seemingly always in a comfortable position.

But Mike Schneider, the 22-year-old poker pro and University of Minnesota student turned out to be the X-factor that the handicappers weren't counting on.

Schneider showed an impressive knowledge of the game - teaching the final-table crowd the art of the value bet with hands like the one that crippled Buller. He "took people to value town," as his cheering section - a group of young college kids who gained notoriety on the ship for their rambunctious (often drunken) support of him - put it.

He also showed an astute knowledge of tournament strategy. To start the final table, Schneider was rockier than the bottom of the Atlantic. He let his competitors go to war, while stealing his share of blinds to keep a healthy stack. But as the blinds increased, Schneider opened up and administered punishment to his competitors.

All of the extra value that Schneider extracted certainly added up. When he finally found himself heads-up with James, he had him outchipped $4,480,000 to James's $760,000. Schneider then made quick work of James.

In the final hand of the event, James raised the rest of his chips, good for approximately a two-bet, and was called by Schneider. Schneider showed Qspade 10club and James showed Jheart 6diamond. The flop came Qheart 2diamond 5heart, pairing Schneider's queen, and leaving James dead to runner-runner straight, flush, jacks, or sixes. The turn brought the 2club, and James was drawing dead. The river was the meaningless 4heart, and the Vista Lounge erupted for the champion.

Kenna James's runner-up finish was worth $700,000 in prize money.

Schneider's cheering section rushed the stage, and from atop their shoulder's he accepted a trophy and a check for $1 million from PartyPoker.com. Now he has two days to relax and celebrate aboard the MS Westerdam as it heads back to Ft. Lauderdale. What is he going to do? "Probably go drink with my buds," Schneider said - a response befitting a champion crowned on St. Patrick's Day. So, the only question left now is: Can Mike Schneider run up a bigger bar tab than Erick Lindgren when he won the PartyPoker Million? Heads-up play for that title begins at the "Crow's Nest" bar tonight. Don't expect reports.