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Buy-In: $10,500 + $315
Prize Pool: $5,133,335
Entrants: 504

No-Limit Hold'em Championship

  • Oct 26, '07 - Nov 02, '07
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Updates on Final Table (Nov 02, 07)

 
 

Tournament Recap: WPT North American Poker Championship


Who Says Day One Doesn't Matter?

By BJ Nemeth

The WPT North American Poker Championship concluded last night with the longest final table (by number of hands) in World Poker Tour history. It was a fitting conclusion for a very long tournament. There were eight days from start to finish, including three day ones and a day off for Halloween. But there was plenty of action in between.

Days 1a, 1b, and 1c: Jonathan Little One-Outs a Chip Lead; Jean Robert Bellande Dominates
Day one action is usually somewhat inconsequential; you either survive or go home. Day one chipleaders rarely even make the final table in week-long events. But one hand stood out, in the very first level of Day 1a, with blinds at 25-50 and starting stacks at 20,000.

There was a preflop raise and a reraise in a hand featuring an unknown and two players who already won WPT events this season -- Jonathan Little (WPT Mirage) and Rhynie Campbell (WPT Turks & Caicos). The flop came J-9-8 and fireworks flew -- all three players were all in.

The unknown player had pocket aces for an overpair, Campbell had pocket jacks for top set, and Little had pocket eights for bottom set. Campbell was in a dominating position, only needing to fade three outs to triple into an early chip lead -- but the case eight on the turn ended his tournament in less than 90 minutes. Instead it was Little who became chip leader, and he would have the most chips at the end of Day 1a.

Remember this miracle one-outer, because it was probably one of the key hands of the tournament. (That's what we call "foreshadowing.")

Day 1b was fairly inconsequential, but Day 1c was a spectator's paradise -- most of the big names in the game chose to play that day, and there were no easy table draws in the room. The big story of Day 1c was Jean Robert Bellande, the professional poker player who can currently be seen on CBS's "Survivor: China." He spent most of the day talking about anything and everything so everyone could hear it. Why was he in such a jovial mood? He was also acquiring chips. By the end of the day, most of the people in the room had heard him say "how good it would be for poker if I made the final table," and he had more than 200,000 in chips -- a dominating lead that was about 4.5 times the average.

Come to think of it, it probably would be good for poker if Bellande made the final table right now. He's got an extremely high profile at the moment as one of the featured "characters" on "Survivor," and photos and stories from our tournament would wind up in magazines like People and Entertainment Weekly, and it would definitely get a mention on the "Survivor" finale. Am I actually rooting for Jean Robert Bellande?

With all three starting days in the books, the official numbers were released. There were 504 entrants, just seven more than the year before, and the prizepool was comparable at $4.86 million (that's in Canadian dollars, which on Day 4 were worth about $1.05 each). First prize would be $1.38 million, and the top 45 players would finish in the money.

Day 2: The Ups & Downs of Bellande
Day 2 played down from 234 players to 79, and and it was clear that the tournament pace was much quicker than expected. Would there be a couple of short days, or an entire day off?

There were plenty of ups-and-downs on Day 2, particularly for Bellande, who looked like he would be voted off the island (my last "Survivor" reference, I promise) early. But he persevered, and finished the day with a handful more chips than he started -- but the rest of the field had caught up to him. Jonathan Little actually lost chips on Day 2, but still had an average stack to work with.

The new king of the mountain was Kofi Farkye, a 19-year-old player that most weren't familiar with, until rumors leaked that he was a strong online player -- supposedly playing in his first-ever live tournament. Farkye announced his presence with authority (my last "Bull Durham" reference, I promise) by leading everyone on Day 2 by finishing with more than 400,000 in chips.

Day 3: Blazing Past the Money Bubble
Day 3 was the money day, and the top 45 got paid. It was one of the quickest money bubbles in recent memory, as former WPT winner Nick Schulman busted in the first few minutes of hand-for-hand play. Schulman hit trip sevens on the river, only to lose to Kofi Farkye's full house.

The field kept thinning very quickly, but there were still some very big names in action -- Barry Greenstein, Bill Edler, and yes, even Jean Robert Bellande. But Bellande's visions of additional TV exposure came to an end when he busted in 39th place with queens against aces.

Lee Markholt hit a remarkable milestone on Day 3 when he was eliminated in 23rd place -- of the 19 WPT events held in 2007, it was his eighth cash. That's an impressive cash rate of 42%. And since he cashed in the last WPT event of 2006, his cash rate in the last 20 WPT tournaments is an astounding 45%. Congratulations, Lee Markholt!

Day 3 ended with 18 players remaining, and with the WPT cameras not set to arrive until Day 5, the schedule would need to be adjusted so they could record action from the play-down day.

Day Off: Happy Halloween!
The originally scheduled Day 4 was replaced by a day off. As a bonus, it was October 31st -- Halloween. Those of us in the media were particularly appreciative (although a bit spoiled), and it gave everyone a chance to check out Niagara Falls on a nice autumn day.

Day 4: Playing Down to Six
The final 18 players included a diverse field of interesting players, and there was definitely potential for a great final table. A few players that would fall short on Day 4 include Dan Shak, Adam "Roothlus" Levy, and Wei Kai Chang.

Day 4 was another quick day, even with a one-hour dinner break, and the final table of six was set around 7:30 pm. With all these quick days, you might think this tournament had a fast structure, but that definitely wasn't the case -- as you'll see at the final table. (Actually, it took 28.5 hours of play before the big blind equalled the starting stack, which indicates a very good structure.)

The WPT Final Table was set, and it featured a very strong lineup:

Seat 1 - Kofi Farkye - 1,504,000
Seat 2 - Jonathan Little - 2,716,000
Seat 3 - "Action Jeff" Garza - 1,320,000
Seat 4 - David Cloutier - 1,614,000
Seat 5 - Barry Greenstein - 447,000
Seat 6 - Scott Clements - 2,483,000

Cloutier was the only Canadian at the table, and he was the Cinderella story at the table, because this was his first major tournament. Farkye and Garza are both 19 years old, and they are both notable online players. Little and Greenstein have WPT titles under their belt (Greenstein has two), and Greenstein and Clements are both multiple WSOP bracelet winners. Clements actually won a special WPT event that was taped here in Niagara Falls last year, though it only aired on Canadian TV. Now he would get his chance at a WPT final table that would be broadcast around the world.

Little already led the WPT Player of the Year standings, and was ranked fifth in Card Player's POY rankings -- a victory here would all but clinch the WPT award for Season VI, and it would also put him at the top of Card Player's list. Clements' appearance at the final table also guaranteed him a shot to the top five of Card Player's list, and a victory would move him into second or third place (depending on Little's finish). Clearly, there was a lot at stake, above and beyond the $1.38 million for first place.

Day 5: The Longest Final Table in WPT History
Greenstein may have started the final table as the short stack, but when you're Barry Greenstein, you don't need a lot of chips to make an impact. The other players had conflicted feelings -- eager to bust him out, worried about doubling him up. He was able to keep himself ahead of the blinds, but had trouble gaining ground on the other players.

Instead, it was two of the medium stacks who were first to go, and Clements was the man who busted them both. In Hand #18, Garza was all in with an open-ended straight draw against the flush draw of Clements -- and a spade on the turn sent "Action Jeff" Garza home in sixth place. In Hand #27, Farkye moved all in with an open-ended straight draw against the top two pair of Clements. It was clearly not a good day for straight draws, because Kofi Farkye missed his outs, and was eliminated in fifth place.

With both 19 year olds gone, Greenstein joked that the players were busting out "according to age." With four players left, Greenstein slowly gained some chips, finally moving over the 1-million mark, but going no further.

The players swapped chips over the next 91 hands, until Greenstein was all in preflop in Hand #118 with a dominating A-9 suited against David Cloutier's K-9 offsuit. But a king on the turn was enough to bust Barry Greenstein in fourth place -- and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Cloutier received an autographed copy of Greenstein's book ("Ace on the River") as a personal bounty, and as the least inexperienced player at the table, he had the most to gain by reading it.

None of the remaining three players were short stacked -- Clements and Little had more than 60 big blinds each, and Cloutier had more than 115. With plenty at stake (more than $1 million separated first prize from third prize), and plenty of play (the blind structure was excellent), nobody was eager to risk all their chips with a marginal hand.

Clements and Little spent their time playing small ball, both trying to chip away at Cloutier's lead -- but the cards weren't cooperating. Cloutier seemed to be a calling station, but had enough of a hand to come out on top more often than not, further extending his chip lead.

In the next 123 hands, there were only two all in-and-call situations. In Hand #185, Clements doubled through Little, and in Hand #205, Little doubled through Cloutier. Both double-ups only served to bring a very short stack back to a moderately short stack. Cloutier just continued to hold a major chip advantage over his two younger, more experienced opponents.

Finally, in Hand #241, there was a chink in Cloutier's armor. From the button, Clements limp-called Cloutier's preflop raise with J-10. The flop came 10-10-9, and Clements seemed to get maximum value from his trips, building a pot worth more than 3 million. (Cloutier mucked, so we'll have to wait until the episode is broadcast to find out what he held.) It was the key hand of the final table, and Scott Clements took over the chip lead. Clements would win another big pot against Cloutier in Hand #248, weakening him further.

But it was Little who dealt the death blow, finishing off Cloutier in Hand #256. Cloutier moved all in with J-9 suited, and Little called with A-10 suited. Cloutier caught a jack on the turn, but it also filled a flush for Little, and Cloutier was drawing dead. Cloutier's Cinderella story would end in third place, but he had a happy ending to the tune of $355,000.

Scott Clements vs. Jonathan Little, Heads Up
Little wasn't able to gain much ground by busting Cloutier, and he was still a 1.7-to-1 dog to Clements. Here were the heads-up chip counts:

Scott Clements - 6,400,000
Jonathan Little - 3,685,000

Remember that hand in the first level of Day 1a, where Jonathan Little caught a one-outer to avoid being crippled? I told you it was important -- and Little made the most of it. Well, almost the most. (More foreshadowing.)

The early heads-up action didn't feature much action, but seven hands in, they tied the WPT record for most hands at a final table (263). From that point forward, they were setting the record for the longest final table in World Poker Tour history.

Clements slowly extended his lead to a 3.5-to-1 advantage heading into Hand #271. Little raised from the button, and Clements called. They both checked a rainbow flop of 7-5-5, and Clements checked again when a 4 fell on the turn. He was laying a trap with Q-5 (trip fives), and Little took the bait by moving all in with K-4. Clements immediately called, and Little was already drawing dead.

Jonathan Little (online name: "FieryJustice") picked up $680,000 for his second-place finish, and took a dominating lead in the WPT Player of the Year race. To beat him, someone who has already won a WPT title this season will have to win another WPT title.

Scott Clements (online name: "BigRiskky") should think about a vacation home in the Niagara Falls area, because in two trips, he has won two tournaments. (In 2006, he won the WPT Canadian Poker Open, an "extra" event that isn't part of the normal show.) Clements won more than $1.38 million, and added a WPT title to his growing resume. You can no longer have an argument about the best young players under 30 without including Scott Clements.

Well, that's it from Niagara Falls, and this ends the international leg of this season's World Poker Tour (Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean, Spain, and Canada). From here to the end of the season, we'll be back in the good old U.S. of A.

See y'all at Foxwoods on Wednesday, November 7th!

 

Scott Clements Wins the North American Poker Championship

One of the best final tables in the history of the World Poker Tour was assembled Friday at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario. A packed crowd watched one of poker's old guard, one amateur, and a sampling of the best young players in the game to see who would take down the first-place prize of $1,387,224 CAD. There were two 19-year-old internet pros in the field, Jeff "ActionJeff" Garza and Kofi Farkye, as well as two former WPT champions, Jonathan Little and Barry Greenstein.

Here is a list of the final table players and their chip counts as they entered the day:

Seat No. 1: Kofi Farkye â€Â" 1,504,000
Seat No. 2: Jonathan Little â€Â" 2,616,000
Seat No. 3: Jeff "ActionJeff" Garza â€Â" 1,320,000
Seat No. 4: David Cloutier â€Â" 1,614,000
Seat No. 5: Barry Greenstein â€Â" 447,000
Seat No. 6: Scott "BigRiskky" Clements â€Â" 2,483,000

There were some interesting storylines going into the final table, perhaps the most important of which was the implications in the Card Player Player of the Year race. Little entered the day ranked fifth in the POY rankings, and a victory would put him in the top spot. Any finish of third or better would bump him into second place. Clements began the day ranked ninth in the POY standings, and a victory here would have moved him into second (or third, depending on Jonathan Little's finish).

Cloutier, the lone Canadian, emerged as the fan favorite early on, receiving rowdy applause whenever he took down a pot. However, the first 45 minutes of play were slow, with each player feeling out their way beneath the hot lights of the WPT set. It looked as if play would break the one-hour mark without an elimination until Garza tangled with Clements.

Clements raised from the cutoff to 70,000, and Garza called. The flop came 872, Garza checked, Clements bet 150,000, and Garza thought for almost a minute before he moved all in. Clements immediately called with A9 for the nut flush draw, and Garza tabled 109 for an open-ended straight draw. Any hope Garza had was eliminated when the turn brought the 3, leaving him drawing dead. Jeff Garza was eliminated in sixth place, good for a $170,216 CAD payday.

The next to go was 19-year-old Farkye, and he too fell at the hands of Clements. In Farkye’s final hand, Clements raised from the small blind to 80,000, and Farkye called from the big blind. The flop came 1087, Clements quickly checked, Farkye moved all in, and Clements immediately called with 108 for top two pair. Farkye showed down 65 for an open-ended straight draw, and needed to improve to stay alive. The turn card brought the K, putting four spades on the board, which gave Farkye additional outs to a chop. The river card brought the 7 and Clements’ hand held. This gave him the pot, and eliminated Farkye. Farkye’s fifth-place finish was good for $218,849 CAD. This was an impressive performance for Farkye, who clams this was his first $10,000 tournament. It’s clear he is a serious poker talent and has a bright future ahead of him. On Farkye’s way out Barry Greenstein couldn't help himself from firing out a good-natured joke, "They're going out in order of age," he said, referencing the two youngest players’ eliminations first.

Unfortunately for Greenstein his observation would not hold true, as a bad beat from Cloutier would send him to the rail next. Cloutier raised to 140,000 from the small blind and Greenstein moved all in from the big blind. Cloutier thought for a few moments before electing to call with K9. Greenstein tabled A9 and was in a dominant position to double up. The flop fell Q107, giving Cloutier additional outs to the gutshot. The turn card was the K, giving Cloutier the lead, and leaving Greenstein drawing to an ace on the river (which ironically is the title of his book) to double up or a jack to chop. The river card was the 5 and Cloutier won the pot. Greenstein was eliminated in fourth place, which was good for $291,798 CAD. Always the class act, Greenstein took a moment to sign a copy of his book for Cloutier, and as he left the table, the ever amicable Canadian crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Greenstein’s elimination brought play down to threehanded and that’s where each player dug in for a long battle. At this point Cloutier stepped up his aggressiveness and took the chip lead. Clements started as the short stack, but doubled through Little on this hand: Little raised from the button to 125,000, and Clements called from the big blind. The flop came J66, Clements bet 100,000, and Little called. The turn was the 5, Clements bet 200,000, and Little moved all in. Clements quickly called for his last 1,195,000 with J8. Little showed down A8, and needed an ace to bust Clements. The river card was the 4, and Clements took down the pot, doubling up to about 2.86 million. This may have crippled a lesser player, but Little remained strong, and he was able to win a big coin flip against Cloutier to stay alive. Almost an hour and twenty minutes later, Clements doubled up again through Little, and knocked him down to one million in chips.

Once again all three players dug in and it turned into a waiting game as Clements and Little waited for the amateur Cloutier to make a mistake. That hand came when Clements played a huge hand against Cloutier, and won not only the pot, but the chip lead as well. Clements limped from the button, Cloutier raised from the big blind to 245,000, and Clements made the call. The flop came 10109, Cloutier checked, and Clements bet 325,000. Cloutier raised to 750,000 and Clements called. The turn card was the 8 and both players checked. The river card was the 5, Cloutier checked, Clements bet 500,000, and Cloutier called. Clements showed J-10 for trip tens, and Cloutier waited about ten seconds before he mucked. Clements took down the pot worth 3 million and he became the chip leader.

Finally, after 137 hands of threehanded play, that spanned almost exactly five hours Cloutier was eliminated. On his last hand, Little raised from the small blind to 180,000, Cloutier moved all in for his last 1.68 million, and Little tanked for about 20 seconds before calling with A10. Cloutier showed J9, and he needed to improve to stay alive. The flop came 863J3, which gave Little the nut flush, and sent him the pot. Cloutier was eliminated in third place and he earned $355,021 CAD for his efforts.

This finally brought play down to heads up, and the chip counts were as follows:

Seat No. 2: Jonathan Little â€Â"3,685,000
Seat No. 6: Scott "BigRiskky" Clements â€Â" 6,400,000

After the lengthy threehanded battle, the players were just eight hands away from setting a new WPT record for the most hands at a final table. The old record was 263, and when Scott Clements folded on the button on the 264th hand, a new record was set. The heads-up battle lasted only 14 hands, and Little was eliminated on the 271st hand of play (the new WPT record). Little raised on the button to 180,000, and Clements made the call. The flop came 755 and both players checked. The turn card was the 4, Clements checked, and Little bet 250,000. Clements raised to 550,000, Little thought for a moment before moving all in, and Clements immediately called with Q5 for trip fives. Little showed K4 and he was drawing dead. Little was eliminated in second place, earning $680,862 CAD.

Clements took down the WPT North American Poker Championship title and he earned $1,387,224 CAD. He also won a $25,500 seat into the WPT World Championship in April, 2008. Clements finish puts him in third place in the Card Player Player of the Year standings, while Little’s second-place finish moves him into second.

 

Hand #271: Scott Clements Wins the WPT North American Poker Championship ($1,387,224 CAD)

Hand #271 - Jonathan Little has the button, he raises to 180,000, and Clements calls. The flop comes 755, and both players check. The turn card is the 4, Clements checks, Little bets 250,000, Clements raises to 550,000, Little thinks a moment before moving all in, and Clements immediately calls with Q5 for trip fives. Little shows K4 for two pair, fives and fours, and he's drawing dead. (The meaningless river card is the K.)

Jonathan Little is eliminated in second place, earning $680,862 (worth approximately $715,702 US).

Scott Clements wins the WPT North American Poker Championship at Fallsview Casino, earning $1,387,224 CAD (worth approximately $1,458,926 US), which includes a $25,500 seat into the WPT World Championship in April, 2008.

Here are the complete results from tonight's record-breaking (in terms of number of hands) final table:

1st place - Scott Clements - $1,387,224 (includes WPT seat)
2nd place - Jonathan Little - $680,862
3rd place - David Cloutier - $355,021
4th place - Barry Greenstein - $291,798
5th place - Kofi Farkye - $218,849
6th place - "Action Jeff" Garza - $170,216

 

Official Chip Counts

There is a very short break for technical reasons, and we receive an official chip count:

Jonathan Little - 2,230,000
Scott Clements - 7,855,000

 

Hand #270: Jonathan Little

Hand #270 - Scott Clements has the button, he completes to 60,000, and Little checks. The flop comes Q72, and both players check. The turn card is the 9, and they check again. The river card is the 5, and they check again. Little shows 8-5 for a pair of fives, and Clements mucks. Jonathan Little takes the pot.

 

Hand #269: Scott Clements

Hand #269 - Jonathan Little has the button, he completes to 60,000, Clements raises to 185,000, and Little calls. The flop comes 10107, Clements bets 200,000, and Little folds. Scott Clements takes the pot.

 

Approximate Chip Counts

The announcer gives the following approximate chip counts:

Jonathan Little - 2.8 million
Scott Clements - 7.7 million

 

Hand #268: Jonathan Little

Hand #268 - Scott Clements has the button, and he folds.

 

Hand #267: Jonathan Little

Hand #267 - Jonathan Little has the button, he raises to 180,000, and Clements folds.

 

Hand #266: Scott Clements

Hand #266 - Scott Clements has the button, he raises to 150,000, and Little calls. The flop comes 886, Little checks, Clements bets 200,000, and Little calls. The turn card is the 5, and both players check. The river card is the 10, Little checks, Clements bets 400,000, and Little calls. Clements shows K10 for two pair, tens and eights, and Little mucks. Scott Clements wins the pot.

 
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