The return of the World Poker Tour to the Festa al Lago series at the Bellagio in Las Vegas was met with excitement from players and the usual WPT fanfare that surrounds its tournaments. But the tally of 368 players who entered the $15K buy-in main event showed that there is still a demand for high buy-in tournaments and a love for the WPT. Missions accomplished.
With a $5,354,400 prize pool and a first prize of more than $1.4 million, many of the most notable names in poker showed up for the prestigious no-limit hold’em tournament. And even after the field had thinned to only 12 players, the poker players remaining were well-known ones like Joe Sebok, Michael DeMichele, and Mike Wattel. But those three names were out the door before the day was over, and Olav Prinz Von Sachsen became the final table bubble player when he exited in seventh place.
Upon the completion of Day 5, the final table was set with a friendly mix of poker veterans and fresh faces that would keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The line-up was as follows:
Bertrand Grospellier 6,420,000
Nenad Medic 3,025,000
Nam Le 2,275,000
Odie Dardon 2,070,000
William Mietz 1,400,000
Adam Levy 1,370,000
In the midst of Level 25, blinds at 50K-100K, and a 10K ante, play began on Sunday, October 26th on the World Poker Tour stage. Adam “Roothlus” Levy, a typically aggressive online poker player and up-and-coming live tournament contender, did what he could to get off the short stack. In the very first hand, he moved all-in, prompting folds from the others, and he got into fifth chip position by collecting the blinds and antes. He then proceeded to do the same again, and with no takers, he continued to chip up.
Osmin “Oddie” Dardon was also looking to improve, and he did so with Big Slick against the A-9 of Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier in the eighth hand of the evening. Dardon doubled up to sit with more than two million chips.
William Mietz sought to do the same by tangling with Grospellier. Upon an initial raise from the latter, Mietz called from the big blind to see a flop. Both players checked, and when the came on the turn, Grospellier bet out. Mietz check-raised all-in for just over one million in chips. Grospellier called with , which dominated Mietz’ . The came on the river, and Mietz was ousted from the final table in sixth place with an $186,510 prize.
After Levy had made a tried-and-true effort to improve his status among the player chip counts by moving all-in five times in only 17 hands at the final table, he got called by the chip leader to be officially at risk. Grospellier had made the first raise, and Levy came over the top all-in for 2.37 million with . Grospellier called with pocket queens, and they watched the board come . The turn card made it official, and Levy was relegated to fifth place with $266,445 for the performance.
Grospellier had eliminated two players from the final table in less than twenty hands, and over the next twenty, he dominated play with pure aggression. Finally, he had the chance to eliminate Nenad Medic, who moved all-in for 1.28 million. Grospellier called from the big blind with , and Medic showed pocket sixes. The race was on until the first card of the flop gave the advantage to Grospellier. The entire board ran out , and the pair of jacks won. Medic was eliminated in fourth place, which was worth $373,010.
The three remaining players were not surprisingly led by Grospellier, who had an impressive 13,375,000 in chips. Dardon and Nam Le each had less than two million, and it would be a fight for anyone to overtake the leader. The two short-stacks got aggressive though, and Le was the first to double through Grospellier to get near the 2.6 million mark. Dardon then did the same and doubled through Grospellier to find himself at 3.45 million in chips. The leader dropped to below ten million but didn’t seem worried.
Worry may have set in, however, when Dardon continued to climb. Dardon took a very significant pot from Grospellier as play continued and finally took the chip lead away. But Dardon’s gain didn’t last long, as Grospellier took the very next pot to regain the lead.
Finally, after an initial raise by Grospellier, Dardon raised to 1.13 million in the 101st hand of the night. Grospellier pushed all-in, and Dardon called all-in for his last 3.84 million with . Grospellier turned over the and underdog status, though he got the help he needed on the flop. The entire board ran out , and Grospellier’s two pairs took it. Dardon was out in third place with a trip to the cashier cage worth $506,245.
Heads-up play began with the following chip counts:
Bertrand Grospellier 15,635,000
Nam Le 925,000
The massive chip lead of Grospellier would have been intimidating to most players, but Nam Le has proven his WPT prowess on numerous occasions and seemed calm going into the two-player action. Play began in Level 27 with blinds at 100K-200K and a 20K ante.
Le was ready to push and did so on the first hand of heads-up play for 905K with versus the of Grospellier. The board came , and Le’s ace-high hand won for a much-needed double-up.
On the very next hand, it was Grospellier who made the all-in move, and Le called all-in with pocket deuces. Grospellier showed , and the board brought nothing to help the chip leader with . Le was able to double again to get to the 3.7 million mark.
Le sought another double in the third hand in a row. Though he initially limped in, Grospellier raised it up to 700K, and Le came over the top with an all-in move. Grospellier called with pocket tens, and Le showed . The race was on, and the dealer gave them . The first card dealt gave Grospellier the distinct advantage in the hand, and Le couldn’t catch up. Nam Le was forced to accept a second place finish and the $943,215 that came with it.
Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier won the WPT Festa al Lago tournament and added a World Poker Tour title to his already tremendous list of accomplishments. In addition, the title of champion came with a hefty $1,411,015 first-place prize check, as well as a WPT bracelet, Bellagio bracelet, and entry into the Season 7 WPT World Championship in April of 2009.
(Thanks to WPT Live Updates for specific hand and chip count information.)