One of the most anticipated stops on the World Poker Tour has become the North American Poker Championship in Niagara Falls. Not only is it a beautiful and different setting for a poker tournament, but it allows players 18-years of age and older to participate, rather than the usual 21-year old limit of the U.S. Many players also enjoy being on North American soil after the World Series of Poker Europe and numerous other global tournament locations.
The WPT North American Poker Championship made its third visit to the Fallsview Resort and Casino in mid-October, and the players welcomed it with open arms. Though the number was a decrease from last year, the field of 454 was an impressive one nonetheless. With most of the players having been eliminated, only six remained to take their seats under the lights of the World Poker Tour set and play for the prestigious title and prize money.
In a time when poker players seem to be getting younger and younger, it was a 67-year old who took his seat at the chip leader, though poker veterans Kathy Liebert and Gavin Smith were in the hunt to take that lead and the title. The seating arrangement and chip counts when the table began were as follows:
Seat 1: Kathy Liebert 1,620,000
Seat 2: Gavin Smith 2,815,000
Seat 3: Marc Karam 1,850,000
Seat 4: Glen Witmer 3,710,000
Seat 5: James Trenholm 1,365,000
Seat 6: Ryan Fisler 2,285,000
The first significant pot of the final table action ended up with a chopped pot between Ryan Fisler, who was all-in against Kathy Liebert. Both players showed A-K, and the two chopped to save Fisler’s tournament life.
It was James Trenholm who was trying to make something happen with some aggressive action, but he got no players for awhile. Gavin Smith was also making moves, and before anyone was eliminated from the table, Smith had taken over the chip lead.
Finally, Trenholm was at risk. It was Smith who made the all-in move preflop, and Trenholm called all-in for his last 1.2 million with pocket sevens. But it was Smith who had pocket kings and was ahead. The board came , and Smith’s full house was the better of the two. James Trenholm left the tournament in sixth place with $153,107 from the cashier.
Not long after, it was Glen Witmer who made an initial raise that prompted Marc Karam to move all-in for 1.59 million from the big blind. Witmer called with , and Karam showed pocket queens. The board came , and the aces were good for Witmer to take the pot and send Karam to the rail in fifth place with $196,851.
Witmer was on a roll, and after taking a significant pot from Smith, calmly strolled into the top position on the leaderboard. Shortly thereafter, he took another pot from Smith with quad jacks, solidifying that lead. And in the meantime, Liebert was quietly looking for a place to make a move, which she did against Fisler. Her pocket nines held up to Fisler’s A-8, and Liebert doubled to stay in the game.
Fisler felt it was time to move after allowing Liebert to double through him, and he got involved with Witmer preflop to see the be dealt. Fisler pushed all-in with , and Witmer called with . The turn was the , which cemented the deal, and the useless came on the river. Fisler was forced out in fourth place and took $262,469 with him.
Liebert had been unsuccessful in keeping any momentum since her earlier double-up, and she got involved from the small blind, as did Smith from the big blind. After the came on the flop, Liebert bet out, but Smith raised, prompting Liebert to come through with an all-in reraise. Smith called all-in with , and Liebert showed . The turn and river were and , respectively, and the top pair of Smith took it. Liebert was crippled after the hand and looking for a spot to move.
Finally, with an initial raise from Witmer, Liebert called all-in for her last $165,000 from the big blind with . Witmer showed the dominating , and the two saw the board come and the irrelevant river card sealed the deal. Liebert was ousted in third place with $319,337 for her efforts.
Heads-up action began between Smith and Witmer with the following chip counts:
Glen Witmer 9,830,000
Gavin Smith 3,815,000
While both players felt they had something to prove, it was Smith who took the lead in accumulating chips, though he never overtook Witmer, who did enough to maintain the lead throughout. Smith clearly wanted the victory, but wanting didn’t seem to be enough.
The final hand began with Witmer making an initial raise to 500K. Smith came over the top with an all-in move for the remainder of his chips. Witmer called with , and Smith showed . The race was on, and after the two shook hands, the board slowly came . The river card was the one Witmer needed, and Smith was relegated to the rail in second place, which was worth $612,427.
Glen Witmer won the WPT North American Poker Championship and the $1,254,152 first prize for his home country of Canada.
(Thanks to WPT Live Updates for specific hand and chip count information.)