Darryll Fish Captures First Major Title, Wins WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open

 Darryll Fish Captures First Major Title, Wins WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open

Battling through one of the larger fields during the Season XVI schedule, poker professional Darryll Fish broke through with his first ever major tour victory in winning the World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, last night.

The hometown favorite at the final table, Fish was one of six players who had come through the 911 entry field to vie for the crown. He didn’t lead as the final table began, however. That honor went to Russia’s Aleksandr Shevelev and his 6.96 million stack, with Ness Reilly tucked into the second slot with her 6.295 million chips. Fish, for his part, hovered in the third-place slot (5.92 million chips) while the rest of the field – Brett Bader (3.16 million), Alan Krockey (2.81 million) and former WPT champion Andy Frankenberger (2.17 million) – needed quite a bit of help if they were going to contend for the championship.

The players throughout the final table were playing as if said table was on fire. On Hand 19, Reilly opened the betting under the gun and Krockey didn’t believe her as he moved all in. Reilly wasted little time in making the call, tabling pocket Kings to go to the races against Krockey’s Big Chick (A-Q). Looking for another lady to join him on the board, Krockey instead saw the board run out nine high, ending his tournament in sixth place and moving Reilly into contention with 6.4 million chips.

Reilly didn’t slow down after that knockout either. Fish and Shevelev put her to the test in her big bling and, after calling a 175K bet, everyone checked to the river on an A-9-2-5-9 board. Reilly would check that board and, after Fish fired a good sized 450K bet, Shevelev dropped from the proceedings. Reilly, though, didn’t believe Fish’s story and made the call. It turned out to be the right one as Fish showed a K-J for complete air; Reilly, on the other hand, showed a 4-3 for the turned Wheel and scooped the 1.5 million chip pot.

Shevelev didn’t get concerned with Reilly storming up on him, he just took down a player to reestablish control at the final table. On Hand 32, Shevelev innocently raised the pot and saw Reilly three bet the action up to 500K. Demonstrating the usage of the WPT “Time Bank” chips (the WPT uses their 30-second “Action Clock” just before the field makes the money; players receive six “Time Bank” chips worth 60 seconds each for use each day until the end of the tournament), Bader tossed one in the pot and, as the clock was at 10, five-bet to 1.35 million.

Now it was Shevelev’s turn to use one of his “Time Bank” chips and, after the deliberation, his reply was to move all in. After Reilly decided that discretion was the better part of valor, Bader took another Time Bank worth of extra time before making the decision to call for his tournament life. When the cards came up, the hand played itself.

Bader’s pocket Queens were only down against two hands (pocket Aces and Kings) and racing against one other (Big Slick) and the race was at hand with Shevelev holding Slick. With his tournament life on the line, Bader was dismayed to see a King in the window on a K-4-4 flop to push Shevelev into the lead. Needing a Queen to remain at the table, Bader instead hit the rail in fifth place as a deuce and a nine finished off the board, sending Shevelev over the 12 million chip mark.  

With that big stack, it wasn’t like Shevelev needed any help, but the players couldn’t resist giving it to him. After doubling up Frankenberger, Reilly would ship a sizeable chunk of her chips to the Russian after he sneakily turned a nine-high straight while holding an 8-5 off suit in the big blind. The resulting 8.1 million pot pushed Shevelev’s stack even higher and many on the rail thought the tournament was over.

Reilly couldn’t overcome the hand against Shevelev. Roughly 10 hands after battling the chip leader, Reilly would lock horns with Fish in a race. Reilly had the best of it pre-flop with her pocket Jacks against Fish’s A 10, but an Ace on the flop changed the fortunes of each player. There was paint on the turn, but it wasn’t the Jack that Reilly was looking for (Queen). Down to the river, Reilly instead saw a second nine as the hand went to Fish and she went to the cash out cage in fourth place.

Shevelev now had a challenger in Fish, but Frankenberger wasn’t going to go away easily. Looking to become a two-time champion on the WPT, Frankenberger would battle it out against the two big stacks for 30 hands before finally succumbing to Fish. With Frankenberger holding pocket sevens and Fish showing A♣ J♣, the flop kept Frankenberger safe. The Jack on the turn, however, wasn’t what Frankenberger wanted to see. Once a trey came on the river, Frankenberger’s dream of a second WPT title was dashed as he exited in third place.

With the knockout of Frankenberger, Fish narrowed the gap with Shevelev, but it was still a 4.4 million advantage for the Russian heading to the endgame. Forty hands into heads up play, however, Fish had been able to bring the stacks to almost even (Shevelev’s 13.9 million to Fish’s 13.4 million). That’s where the tournament would remain, with each player jumping out to a substantive lead before being reeled back in, for much of the four-plus hour battle.

Once the blinds reached the astronomical level of 300K/600K with a 100K ante, however, the deep stacks were gone and the all-in moves began. Beginning with Hand 199, eight of the next 10 hands would see a player all-in, with Hand 209 being the penultimate hand for the players. With Fish holding the lead, Shevelev challenged him with an all in and Fish made the call.

Shevelev had roughly a 60/40 edge with his A-10 over Fish’s K-J and continued to hold that edge when the flop came Q-9-8. A King on the turn, however, gave the lead over to Fish and left Shevelev looking for an Ace or a Jack (straight) to take the hand back. There was a straight on the river with the 10, but that straight was an unnecessary one for Fish to the King as he captured the hand and the championship.

1. Darryll Fish, $ 511,604
2. Aleksandr Shevelev, $ 331,116
3. Andy Frankenberger, $ 244,342
4. Ness Reilly, $ 182,249
5. Brett Bader, $ 137,440
6. Alan Krockey, $ 104,784

With this title, Fish goes over $ 3.75 million in career tournament earnings, a career that had previously been bereft of a major tournament championship. Although Fish has won on the WSOP Circuit and at the Aussie Millions, this is the first title for Fish on a major tournament schedule. It also adds on to an amazing 150 cashes for a career (and add in another 325 online finishes) that is showing no signs of slowing down.

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