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Buy-In: $9,700 + $300
Prize Pool: $4,917,900
Entrants: 507

No-Limit Hold'em Main Event 13 (WPT)

  • Jan 26, '08 - Jan 31, '08


Updates on Day 5 (Jan 31, 08)


Griffin Makes History by Winning Poker’s Triple Crown

Gavin Griffin Wins the 2008 Borgata Poker Classic

By Ryan Lucchesi

Tonight, at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey a significant landmark in poker history was attained. Gavin Griffin, one of the brightest young stars in the game, achieved his first World Poker Tour title by winning the 2008 Borgata Poker Classic. Griffin added this title to his body of poker work, right next to his World Series of Poker gold bracelet (2004 pot-limit hold’em), and his win on the European Poker Tour (2007 Grand Final). No other player in poker can claim a title in all three major poker tours. It wasn’t easy for Griffin to win this prize; he had to fight five other players for the title, and one was a stubborn heads-up opponent who tried to stand in his way. In the end, he won the day and made poker history. Let’s take a look at his journey. Here were the chip counts at the start of play:

Seat 1: Lee Watkinson - 387,000
Seat 2: Noah 'fouruhaters' Schwartz - 1,313,000
Seat 3: Ervin Prifti - 289,000
Seat 4: Gavin Griffin - 5,105,000
Seat 5: Thomas Hare - 2,851,000
Seat 6: David Tran - 5,271,000

Things got rolling early at the final table when Ervin Prifti had the button and he decided to reraise all in after David Tran had made it 120,000 to go under the gun. Tran called with AK, and Prifti was dominated with KQ. The board came J7695. Tran won the pot with ace-high and Prifti was eliminated just five hands into play in sixth place, earning $233,600.

A few hands later, Gavin Griffin took the chip lead for the first time in the tournament. Tran had the button and Griffin raised under the gun to 100,000. Tran reraised from the button to 475,000, and Griffin reraised to 1.5 million. Tran went into the tank for more than a minute before he mucked, and Griffin stole the pot worth more than 1 million in chips. "I'll bet they show that one on television," said Griffin after the hand. Noah Schwartz chimed in, "I'll give you 2-to-1 on that." This brief change of power at the top was brief though and Tran regained the chip lead a few hands later.

Hand 13 proved to be lucky for one player and unlucky for another when Lee Watkinson doubled up through Schwartz. Watkinson was cheered on during the hand by Ted Lawson and his wife Michelle, who were seated alongside Watkinson’s fiancée Timmi DeRosa. The three cheered on Watkinson as he doubled up his stack to 560,000 and survived. Watkinson was all in once again six hands later, and once again he squared off with Schwartz. This time a battle of pocket pairs commenced when Watkinson flipped over pocket sevens to Schwartz’s pocket eights. The board fell AJ109 to keep things interesting. An eight would now improve either player’s hand, but give Watkinson a come from behind victory on the river. The river card ended up being the 2 and Schwartz won the pot with a pair of eights. Watkinson was eliminated in fifth place, earning $282,779.

The tumultuous early stages of play then gave way to a slower speed of poker after the elimination of the two short stacks. Thomas Hare managed to double up through Griffin during this stretch, and in doing so, he evened out the chip stacks of the three competitors who were now trying to chase down the chip leader, Tran. Tran did not help matters when he won a 2.1 million pot off of Griffin a few hands later to really start pulling away from the field. He further increased his lead when he tangled with Schwartz on the fiftieth hand of play.

Tran raised from the small blind to 180,000 and Schwartz moved all in from the big blind. The total bet that Tran faced was 1,166,000 and he thought for a moment before making the call with KQ. Schwartz showed pocket nines and the race was official. The board hit the table KJ2J8 and Schwartz was eliminated in fourth place, earning $331,958.

Three players remained at this point, but little had changed in the fact that Tran was still way out in front and everyone else was shooting to chase him down. Tran, Griffin, and Hare traded punches for 19 hands before Griffin struck a major blow by doubling up through Hare. Hare was crippled, and left with 545,000 after the hand. While Griffin soared to 5.7 million. Hare moved all of his chips into the middle on the very next hand, when he called all in after Griffin raised 2 million preflop. Hare held K3 to Griffin’s KQ and the board ran out QJ978. Hare was eliminated in third place, earning $381,137 and after it appeared for so long that Tran was going to run away with the title, Griffin made some major steps to catch him. Here were the chip stacks at the start of the heads-up match:

David Tran - 8,695000
Gavin Griffin - 6,520,000

It only took Griffin three hands to wrestle the chip lead out of the hands of Tran. He picked up a pot worth 4.2 million by inducing Tran to lay down to an all-in bet on the turn of a board that read 63310. The tables were now turned, but Tran refused to go silently into the night. He chipped back up and reclaimed the chip lead, but that all changed on hand 83. Griffin raised 200,000 on the button, and Tran reraised to 875,000. Griffin reraised to 2.475 million and Tran moved all in. Griffin shrugged and called all in with AQ. Tran turned up pocket nines and Griffin needed to improve to stay alive. Gavin said, "Pretty big pot, sir. You're gonna have some left if I win, though." The flop then ran out Q88, and Griffin's friends in the crowd cheered as he took the lead. The turn and river brought 75 and Griffin doubled up. He now had a commanding chip lead with over 13 million in his stack.

David Tran once again proved his reliance by doubling up through Griffin and continuing the fight. Tran used pocket aces to do his bidding and after being close to elimination, he climbed back up to 3.9 million. Twenty-one hands later Tran was at it again, and he doubled up once more to sustain his chip stack. This time Tran received a little help from the poker gods when flopped a 10 to make a pair and overtake Griffin’s A-K. Tran held 4.73 million after this second double up, and he kept creeping back into contention.
Griffin was not about to let his grip on the title fall away and it was only a matter time before he struck a fatal blow to Tran’s stack. Tran held the button on the hand, and he completed for 100,000. Griffin checked and the flop came 1062. Griffin checked, Tran bet 150,000, and Griffin made the call. The turn card was the 7, and both players checked. The river card was the 8, Griffin bet 475,000, and Tran raised to 1,125,000. Griffin thought for about 20 seconds before making it 3,625,000. Tran thought for about 15 seconds before he made the call. Griffin showed down J-9 for the nuts - a jack-high straight. Tran mucked and he was below 800,000 in chips. It was only a matter of time at this point, but Tran kept things interesting by doubling up one more time before the final hand of the evening.

On the last hand Griffin and Tran got it all in preflop and Griffin was behind with QJ. Tran held K8 for the lead, but the board ran out A98Q10 to win the pot and the tournament for Griffin. Tran finished as the runner-up in second place, earning $737,685. Griffin won his first WPT title, earning $1,401,109, part of which is a $25,500 entry into the WPT World Championship, a Tag Heuer watch, and a customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. But more importantly, Griffin also won the historic poker Triple Crown, a title that no one else on the planet can lay claim to.


Hand #118: Gavin Griffin Wins the WPT Borgata Poker Open!

Hand #118 - David Tran has the button, he moves all in, and Griffin asks for a count. It's 1.24 million. Griffin also asks how much time is left in the level -- about one minute. Gavin Griffin calls with QJ. Tran shows K8. Griffin needs to improve to win the tournament right here.

The flop comes A98, and Griffin is momentarily depressed before saying, "That's a pretty good flop." A ten would give Griffin a straight, and he's also looking for a queen or a jack. Tran picked up a pair of eights.

The turn card is the Q, and Griffin's friends cheer as he takes the lead with a pair of queens. Now Tran needs a king or an eight to stay alive.

The river card is the 10, and Gavin Griffin wins the pot -- and the tournament -- with a queen-high straight.

David Tran finishes as the runner-up in second place, earning $737,685.

Gavin Griffin wins the 2008 WPT Borgata Poker Classic, earning $1,401,109, part of which is a $25,500 entry into the WPT World Championship, a Tag Heuer watch, and a customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Gavin Griffin also becomes the first player in poker history to win a WPT title, an EPT title, and a WSOP bracelet.


Hand #117: Gavin Griffin

Hand #117 - Gavin Griffin has the button, he raises to 1.95 million, which is still more than enough to cover Tran. Tran folds, and Griffin takes the blinds and antes.


Hand #116: David Tran Doubles Through Gavin Griffin

Hand #116 - David Tran has the button, he moves all in, and Griffin asks for a count. It's 570,000 more, and Griffin calls with Q9. Tran shows 99, and he's in a dominant position to double up here.

The flop comes 543, and Tran retains the lead. The turn card is the 2, and an ace or a six will chop the pot with a straight on the board. A queen will win the tournament for Griffin right here.

The river card is the 10, and David Tran doubles up with his pocket nines.

Gavin Griffin: "What a sick cooler. How can you have two nines? That's gross."


Hand #115: Gavin Griffin

Hand #115 - Gavin Griffin has the button, he moves all in, and Tran folds.


Hand #113: David Tran

Hand #113 - Gavin Griffin has the button, and he folds.


Hand #114: Gavin Griffin

Hand #114 - David Tran has the button, and he folds.


Updated Chip Counts

Here are the updated chip counts:

Gavin Griffin - 14,425,000
David Tran - 790,000


Hand #112: Gavin Griffin Cripples David Tran

Hand #112 - David Tran has the button, he completes for 100,000, and Griffin checks. The flop comes 1062, Griffin checks, Tran bets 150,000, and Griffin calls. The turn card is the 7, and both players check. The river card is the 8, Griffin bets 475,000, Tran raises to 1,125,000, and Griffin thinks for about 20 seconds before saying, "I raise." Griffin makes it 3,625,000, and Tran thinks for about 15 seconds before he calls. Griffin shows J-9 for the nuts -- a jack-high straight. Tran mucks, and Gavin Griffin wins the pot.

David Tran is down below 800,000 in chips.


Hand #111: Gavin Griffin

Hand #111 - Gavin Griffin has the button, he completes for 100,000, and Tran checks. The flop comes 1085, and both players check. The turn card is the 7, and they check again. The river card is the K, and they check again. Tran shows A-Q (that's what it sounded like), but Griffin shows 8-x to win the pot with a pair of eights.

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