Posts Tagged ‘Sexton’
2017 WPT L. A. Poker Classic Day Five: Daniel Strelitz In Charge at Final Table with Mike Sexton Lurking
For the third consecutive day and in dominant fashion, Daniel Strelitz has set himself as the man to beat at the 2017 World Poker Tour L. A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino in Bell Gardens, CA. He will be leading the final table this afternoon when play reconvenes and faces a daunting challenge in a group of men that includes 2017 WPT champion and commentator Mike Sexton.
16 players came back to the tables on Wednesday, looking to whittle the contenders down to the official WPT final table of six. Strelitz was carrying the chip lead, as he did after Day Three of the tournament, and was the only player left with better than a two million chip stack (2.02 million, to be exact). There was a litany of contenders looking to derail Strelitz’s run, however, including Matt Berkey (1.118 million), former WPT Player of the Year Joe Serock (1.157 million), Rainer Kempe (798K), Sexton (908K), Simeon Naydenov (478K) and a short stacked Dzmitry Urbanovich (288K).
With a million-dollar payday awaiting the eventual champion, the players were deliberate in the actions and looking for the best opportunity to move up the pay ladder. Naydenov found an early double up through Donald Maloney in a classic race situation – Maloney’s pocket Queens against Naydenov’s Big Slick – that saw Naydenov flop a King to take the hand. Meanwhile, Sexton was the beneficiary of some of Kempe’s chips when he eliminated the German but tripled up Visnja Leutic when she caught Queens up against Sexton’s pocket Kings.
Strelitz wasn’t sitting back on his laurels, however. He knocked off Dean Baranowski in 17th place and, within a couple of hours of the opening bell, was sitting on a stack of 2.6 million. Strelitz continued to dominate the field and, after Naydenov eliminated Urbanovich (who survived much longer than many thought) in 11th place, headed to the unofficial final table of ten men with 3.45 million in chips.
He could have just sat back and cruised into the final table with the chips that he had, but Strelitz kept getting strong cards. He knocked off John Cynn in tenth place, adding Cynn’s roughly 500K in chips to his stack, and approached the four million mark in forcing Serock off a hand only seven hands into play at the unofficial final table. He didn’t slow down over the next rotation around the table either, putting together some more moves to bring his stack to 4.42 million. About the only player who could slow down Strelitz was Sexton, who chipped a couple small pots out of Strelitz to stay viable in the tournament.
After a break in the tournament to move to Level 25, Strelitz exploded on the remaining field. On Hand 55, Strelitz was able to eliminate Serock in eighth place after sparring with him over several hands and, only twelve hands later, showed Berkey the door in seventh place after rivering a miraculous nut flush against Berkey’s flopped Broadway straight. In knocking off three of the four players at the unofficial final table, Strelitz’s chip stack soared over six million to set him up as the dominant force at the official WPT final table:
1. Daniel Strelitz, 6.485 million
2. Simeon Naydenov, 2.86 million
3. Jesse Martin, 2.54 million
4. Jared Griener, 1.895 million
5. Mike Sexton, 1.165 million
6. Richard Tuhrim, 680,000
While Strelitz’s run has been quite impressive, the eyes of the poker world are set firmly on Sexton. After being barred from playing on the circuit for much of its fifteen-year history, Sexton would win his first WPT championship at the WPT partypoker.net Montreal tournament in November 2016, Sexton has catapulted himself into the race for the Season XV Player of the Year competition. With a victory here at the LAPC, Sexton will be barely behind the current leader Benjamin Zamani, with plenty of time to pass him before the season’s conclusion.
Don’t leave anyone else out of pulling a surprise, however. Naydenov is particularly dangerous and, as the player closest to Strelitz in the chip count and on Strelitz’s immediate left, only needs a couple of breaks to catch up. It might be a task for Martin, Griener or especially Tuhrim (as the short stack) to make any big moves, but there’s plenty of chips out there that can easily switch hands should the fortunes change.
The final table of the WPT L. A. Poker Classic will begin at 4PM (Pacific Time) and is set to be recorded for broadcast on the Season XV schedule of the WPT on Fox Sports 1 (there is no live stream of the tournament). At stake for the remaining six men is the lion’s share of the $ 5 million prize pool, including the top prize of $ 1,001,110 for the eventual champion.
After starting the day as the chip leader – and then finding himself in a 10-1 hole during heads up competition – Poker Hall of Famer and World Poker Tour announcer Mike Sexton earned the championship of the partypoker WPT Montreal Main Event early this morning in Quebec.
From the start of the day’s action on Thursday, there was a buzz of anticipation on the rail. Could Sexton (6.215 million in chips), who for years was denied the ability to play in any WPT events, finish off the deal against a youthful field. Or would it be the last remaining woman in the field, Ema Zajmovic (second in chips with 5.385 million), who would break the curse of no woman ever winning a WPT open event on the Main Tour.
Then there were the contenders behind them in the form of World Series of Poker 2013 “Millionaire Maker” champion Benny Chen (2.48 million), veteran international pro Ilan Boujenah (2.29 million) and an on-a-roll professional in Jake Schwartz (1.55 million), who had made deep runs in the last two WPT tournaments. Only businessman Nadir Lalji (1.52 million) seemed to be a bit of a “soft spot” and that would have been a misconception; Lalji has cashed in tournaments stretching from his native Hungary to Las Vegas.
It was Lalji who drew the first blood in the tournament in a clash with Schwartz. The two shortest stacks from the start of the day clashed in a “blind versus blind” battle after Schwartz moved all in from the small blind and Lalji looked him up. Schwartz had chosen the wrong moment to push with his J-9 off suit as Lalji’s Big Slick was in good shape. The ugly (for Schwartz) A-K-J flop squarely hit Lalji for Aces up and Schwartz could never catch up. After a deuce and a Queen finished out the board, Schwartz found the cage to collect his sixth-place prize.
It would take more than 30 hands for the next contestant to be eliminated and surprisingly it came between the start of day chip leaders. After Sexton raised out of the cutoff, Zajmovic (who had doubled up Chen to put a dent in her stack) moved all in off the button and, after the blinds got out of the way, Sexton was more than happy to call with his pocket Aces. Zajmovic was caught with her K-Q off suit and, once the board ran out nine-high, the misstep cost Zajmovic her tournament life in fifth place.
Down to four-handed action with Sexton the dominant stack, the players were still very deep and very deliberate with their play. Almost 40 hands of action elapsed before Boujenah found pocket sixes and pushed all in over Chen’s bet in another “blind versus blind” situation. Much like Sexton, Chen was happy to call with his pocket Aces and head to the flop with a 4-1 advantage over Boujenah. An Ace on the flop virtually ended the sweat for Boujenah and, once a blank came on the turn, he was drawing dead and out of the tournament in fourth place.
Chen and Sexton were now about even in chips as Lalji looked to make himself relevant in the tournament. Using flopped trips that turned into a boat, Chen would take a big hand off Sexton to open some space, but Sexton would close back up in eliminating Lalji when his pocket eights flopped a set against Lalji’s Big Chick. As the duo went to heads up play, Chen was about 1.7 million chips in the lead for what would turn out to be an epic battle.
Over 148 hands of action, Chen played outstanding heads up poker as Sexton attempted to patiently wait for a moment to strike. Over 40 hands into heads up, Chen had worked his way out to a monstrous 17.35 million-to-1.825 million (almost a 10-1 advantage) over Sexton, but he just couldn’t seem to put the Poker Hall of Famer away. Even very late in the event, Chen seemed to have the tournament in his grasp but, when the end came, it came in rapid fashion.
On Hand 262, Sexton rivered a Jack-high straight to best Chen and wrest the lead from him and, two hands later, would end the tournament. On Hand 264, Chen moved all in for over eight million chips with K-J and Sexton, waking up with pocket Queens, immediately called. The Queen on the flop improved Sexton but, along with a nine, presented outs to the straight for Chen. An Ace didn’t do the trick and, once a deuce peeled on the river, Chen’s excellent play would fall short as he finished runner-up to Sexton.
1. Mike Sexton, $ 317,896 (U. S.)
2. Benny Chen, $ 213,515
3. Nadir Lalji, $ 136,806
4. Ilan Boujenah, $ 99,067
5. Ema Zajmovic, $ 76,127
6. Jake Schwartz, $ 61,000
With the victory, Sexton adds to what is already a legendary career. Sexton adds the WPT title to the two WSOP bracelets he has won (a 1989 Seven Card Stud championship and the 2006 WSOP Tournament of Champions) and the plaque for his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. While the money won for the WPT Montreal might not be his biggest score (his ninth-place finish in the 2012 WSOP “Big One for One Drop” earned him a $ 1,109,33 score), it is probably one of the more satisfactory ones for Sexton after years of not being allowed to play in the tournaments offered by the WPT.
There is a chance at history in Canada this afternoon. After a battle through a 648-entry field, Poker Hall of Famer and World Poker Tour announcer Mike Sexton will come to the final table of the partypoker.com WPT Montreal at the Playground Poker Club with the chip lead. Of the remaining five players, only Ema Zajmovic is within shooting distance of Sexton’s mountain of chips.
17 players came back for action on Wednesday in one of the most popular venues in Quebec if not Canada. The Playground Poker Club was teeming with action as partypoker qualifier Samuel Gagnon (3.35 million chips) held court over the Day 4 field. There was only one player within shouting distance of Gagnon at the start of the day, Benny Chen (2.065 million), and both of those men were bracketing the dealer on one table. On the second patch of felt, Zajmovic (2.14 million) was in command as Terry Schumacher (2.125 million) looked to keep her in check. For his part, the day didn’t look like it would be very lengthy for Sexton (530,000).
After simply surviving through the early part of the day, Sexton finally found a way to get back in the game. After a raise from Alex Keating to 65K in the hijack, Sexton popped him with an “all in over the top” raise for three-quarters of a million chips in the cutoff. After the rest of the field scattered, Keating made the call and tabled pocket tens, which held the preflop edge over Sexton’s Big Slick. The Ace came in the window, pushing Sexton to the lead, and once no ten appeared on the turn or river, the Poker Hall of Famer was up to 1.5 million.
This seemed to light a fire under the veteran professional as his stack only increased from that point onward. He dumped Martin Raus in 15th place, Keating in 13th place and Tam Ho in 12th place in making his way to the unofficial final table of 10 players with 2.875 million chips. It wasn’t Sexton who had the eyes of the railbirds on Wednesday afternoon, however.
About the same time Sexton was going on his run, Zajmovic was making some moves of her own. She decimated the stack of Robert McGhee when, on a J-10-2-5-5 board, she check-called her way to a monster pot when McGhee bluffed with a Q-3 against her 5-3 (trip fives). Now over three million in chips, Zajmovic continued to have fortune come her way when she went runner-runner to make a straight and eliminate Jason Mann after he flopped a set against her. By the time the unofficial final table was set, Zajmovic was on a 5.335 million stack and the chip leader in the event.
Both Zajmovic and Sexton would be formidable foes as the official six-handed WPT final table was determined. Although Zajmovic would maintain her stack while the field was cut from 10 to six (she was not afraid to put her chips into action, eliminating Antonin Duda in eighth place), Sexton was the beneficiary of a clash with Gagnon that would shoot him into the lead.
After Chen made a raise off the hijack, Gagnon moved his stack to the center off the button with only the blinds to get through. Sexton, however, simply called as he tried to entice Chen into the action. It didn’t work as Chen sent his cards to the muck and, after Gagnon and Sexton’s cards were on their backs, it was a definite cooler. Gagnon had a good hand in his pocket tens, but Sexton outpipped him with a pocket pair of Knaves (Jacks). Once the board came with neither of the two remaining tens, Sexton scooped up Gagnon’s chips, sending the partypoker qualifier to the rail as the television table “bubble boy” and ending the action for the night with Sexton in the lead.
Seat 1: Nadir Lalji, 1.52 million
Seat 2: Benny Chen, 2.48 million
Seat 3: Ilan Boujenah, 2.29 million
Seat 4: Mike Sexton, 6.215 million
Seat 5: Ema Zajmovic, 5.385 million
Seat 6: Jake Schwartz, 1.55 million
Although Sexton and Zajmovic have ample stacks, the challenges beneath them are many. Chen has shown himself to be quite difficult on the table and Schwartz just missed the final table at the WPT bestbet Jacksonville Bounty Scramble and ran deep at the WPT Maryland Live! Main Event in October. Boujenah, despite not having a major tournament championship, has over $ 1.5 million in career earnings since 2009 (thank you, Hendon Mob) and Lalji has cashes in tournaments from Hungary to Spain to Las Vegas.
The final table will start at 4PM and be taped for broadcast as a part of the Season XV schedule of the WPT on Fox Sports, but there will also be a live stream for those who can’t wait that long. The live stream will begin (on a 30-minute delay) at 4:30PM at WPT.com. Can Sexton capture a WPT title? Can Zajmovic make WPT history in becoming the first female champion on the Main Tour in the 15-year existence of the WPT? Or will there be another surprise from Montreal? All questions will be answered when it plays out this evening and a new champion is crowned in Quebec.
Yesterday, I irrationally yelled in ALL CAPS about how players get knocked out of major tournaments so quickly on Day 2, only to have eliminations slow to a crawl after that. We’ll see how slow things go today, as just 17 players remain in the partypoker.net World Poker Tour (WPT) Montreal Main Event. There will only be 11 eliminations on Day 4, as the six-handed final table is scheduled for Thursday. Typically, unless there are a lot of short stacks, players hold on as long as possible in the levels leading up to the final table so that not only can they take advantage of the pay jumps, but to also have that thrill of reaching the last day and make an appearance on TV. Oh yeah, and to still have a chance to win the entire tournament.
Tuesday’s Day 3 began with 50 players bellying up to the tables at the Playground Poker Club. Of the 17 remaining players, only chip leader Samuel Gagnon has more than 3 million chips, finishing the night with 3.35 million. Only two other players even have at least 2 million, and just barely: Benny Chen with 2.065 million and Terry Schumacher with 2 million even. This is to say that Gagnon was a tremendous lead. Let’s not crown him just yet, though, as we saw last week when Luis Cruz made a huge comeback at the final table of WPT Nottingham that a big chip stack offers no guarantees in poker.
As often happens in the days leading up to the final table, our chip leader reached the top of the leader board via a huge late pot. The WPT.com live updates picked the hand up at the turn with a board of K-T-6-7 and over 1 million chips already in the pot. Robert McGhee bet 400,000 and Gagnon shoved for 1.109 million. After Jason Mann folded, McGhee gave it some thought and called with A-K, good for top pair, top kicker (or, as 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event champ Jamie Gold would say, “top-top”). Gagnon, though, had two black Sixes for a set, giving McGhee no chance to win the hand. The river, of course, was inconsequential and Gagnon doubled-up to 3.28 million after winning the largest pot of the tournament.
Aside from the general race to the final table, one of the bigger developing stories is that Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton is still in the tourney. Sexton, as you well may know, has been the voice of the World Poker Tour – along with Vince Van Patten – since the very beginning, so it will prove quite interesting (and fun!) if he were to make the final table. Who will take his place behind the microphone? Will Vince be outright rooting for his friend? MEDIA BIAS, I SAY! Sexton has also been a long-time partypoker ambassador, dating back to before the poker boom.
2016 partypoker.net WPT Montreal – Day 3 Chip Counts
1. Samuel Gagnon – 3,350,000
2. Benny Chen – 2,065,000
3. Terry Schumacher – 2,000,000
4. Ema Zajmovic -1,885,000
5. Nadir Lalji – 1,250,000
6. Tam Ho – 910,000
7. Robert McGhee – 880,000
8. Antonin Duda – 810,000
9. Alex Keating – 728,000
10. Jonathan Abdellatif – 695,000
11. Jason Mann – 694,000
12. Ilan Boujenah – 685,000
13. Mike Sexton – 584,000
14. Jake Schwartz – 465,000
15. Martin Raus – 455,000
16. Stuart Taylor – 445,000
17. Dakota Vandine – 235,000