Over the years, the World Poker Tour has gained quite the following at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino, where it has set records in terms of number of entrants and prize pools in years past. At the November World Poker Finals at Foxwoods, there were 412 players, a number which was down from the 575 of the year before but still made for a healthy prize pool. But the April Foxwoods Poker Classic that got underway on Friday, April 3, brought only 259 players to the tables.
Clearly disappointing to Foxwoods and the WPT, the total prize pool was only $2,436,930 and would not allow for a $1 million first prize. For the first time in the history of the $10K WPT events at Foxwoods, the first prize was well under that million mark and set at $731,079. The final 30 players were to be paid, and action got started on Day 1 for a tournament with much shorter days than planned.
But many big names on the poker tournament circuit came out for the event, including the three finalists from the most recent WPT stop at Bay 101 - Steve Brecher, Kathy Liebert, and Chris Moore. The Foxwoods World Poker Finals reigning champion Jonathan Little was there, along with the Foxwoods Poker Classic 2008 champion Erik Seidel. Others in the field included Barry Greenstein, Nenad Medic, Nick Schulman, Hoyt Corkins, Mike Matusow, Lee Markholt, Carlos Mortensen, Bill Gazes, Gavin Smith, David Williams, Amnon Filippi, and Mark Seif.
When the day wrapped, there were 165 still remaining after the five levels, and Ken Adams sat in the chip lead with 140,775 chips. He was followed by Daniel Pelletier, Anthony Gregg, Nick Saxon, and Anthony Gargano in the top five, and East Coast favorite Frankie Flowers brought up the sixth spot on the leaderboard.
Day 2 began with those 165 players, and through another five levels of play, saw that number shrink to only 59. Some of the notables that made it through the day were Hoyt Corkins, Mike Matusow, Barry Greenstein, Steve Brecher, and Jonathan Little, but the person at the top of the leaderboard was Ryan Fisler, the Canadian player who finished fourth at the last WPT North American Poker Championships. Fisler’s stack of 422K was being chased by the others in the top five, who were, in order, Evan McNiff, David Williams, Vadim Trincher, and Mike Leah.
Day 3 would be the one that would see the money bubble burst, and all 59 starters were aiming to be in the final 30 for that reason. But Jonathan Little didn’t get very far as he was the first elimination of the day. Hoyt Corkins, Mike Matusow, and Steve Brecher followed. Also out early was the first day’s chip leader Ryan Fisler, who was eliminated in a 754K pot by Amnon Filippi. As the afternoon wore on, it was Mohsin Charania who became the tournament’s bubble player, as he got involved with versus the of Andy Stone. The board brought an ace on the flop, and the queen on the turn was no good, sending Charania out in 31st place.
The money pit was then open for business, and Evan McNiff was the first to cash in it, when he finished in 30th place for $20,713. Joe Cappello followed in 29th place, and other notable eliminations included Dan Heimiller in 23rd, Phong Nguyen in 19th, and Andy Stone in 18th place. The day ended with 17 remaining and with Lee Markholt in the dominating chip lead with 1,118,500 chips. The closest competitor was Amnon Filippi with 828,500, and Vadim Trincher pulled into third with 730,500. And it should be noted that Markholt began the day in last chip position but slowly worked his way up and never looked back once he reached the lead.
Day 4 brought the 17 players back to play down to 10. While that seemed like a waste of time for everyone, it was due to the fact that the WPT production crew wouldn’t arrive until the following day to film the playdown to the final six.
With that, play began to see Sean Nolan eliminated first, taking home $28,024 for the 17th place finish. Mario Delis followed in 16th, David Williams in 15th, and the last woman in the event, Joanne Monteavaro, left in 14th place. Mike Hills was gone in 13th, and Barry Greenstein finally made his way to the door with a 12th place finish and the $40,209 that went with it. And to end the day, Josh Bergman finished in 11th place. The final ten saw Lenny Cortellino in the top chip position with 1,520,000 chips, though Lee Markholt still held on to second place after a rough day. Amnon Filippi was in the third spot, and Vadim Trincher held down fourth. Those were the only four players over 1 million chips, and the short stack going into the next day was Joe Raposa with only 134K.
The fifth day of play was likely to be a short one, only having to play from 10 players down to the final six. During the first several rounds, Amnon Filippi was able to chip up into first place, while Tony Gargano became the 10th place finisher. Then Filippi woke up with a hand good enough to eliminate Allen Kessler, putting his A-J up against the suited K-Q of Kessler, who saw the board blank and finished in ninth.
In the process of finding the next two eliminations, Lee Markholt took a hit when Vadim Trincher doubled through him, leaving Markholt as one of the shorter stacks at the table. He stayed alive for awhile but finally saw his stack diminish to 219K and pushed it with pocket jacks, only to be called by Matthew Casterella and his A-10 of diamonds, which turned into a flush to eliminate Markholt in eighth place.
Not long after, the one final elimination of the day turned into two. Trincher got involved with pocket aces against the shorter stacks of Raposa, who held pocket jacks, and Botchis who had pocket nines. The board blanked for those who needed cards when it came , and William Botchis became the seventh place finisher, which was worth $68,235. And Joe Raposa finished in sixth place with $85,292.
For only the second time in WPT history, the final table would start with five players, whose chip counts would be as follows:
Seat 1: Lenny Cortellino 1,175,000
Seat 2: Matthew Casterella 1,808,000
Seat 3: Alex Perelberg 200,000
Seat 4: Vadim Trincher 2,813,000
Seat 5: Amnon Filippi 1,852,000
No one could have anticipated the length of this one, considering it started with less then the usual number of players, especially since the first few rounds did have some action. Short-stacked Alex Perelberg took some early opportunities to double up, once through Amnon Filippi and again through Matt Casterella. By the 39th hand of the tournament, he doubled through Casterella again, though his stack was consistently being blinded down between those times.
Finally, several rounds later, Perelberg tried again with only 95,000 chips left. He pushed all-in from the big blind with , but it was Filippi with the call holding . The board came , and Alex Perelberg was eliminated in fifth place with $106,007 for the effort.
Four-handed action began with Trincher still in the lead but Filippi gaining ground. Trincher put space between the two by taking a sizable pot two hands later, but then the action slowed. The most that happened in the next 50 hands was that Lenny Cortellino won a significant hand to balance out his tight play. Some action did happen quite some time later, as Matthew Casterella doubled through Trincher, but Trincher came back to double through Casterella four hands later.
Finally, Casterella pushed again after an all-in move from Filippi preflop. Casterella put the remainder of his 835K stack at risk with to find himself up against the pocket sevens of Filippi. With that, the board ran out to allow the pocket pair to hold up and send Matt Casterella out in fourth place with $138,905.
At three-handed, Trincher retained his lead, closing in on the 4-million chip mark, but Filippi held strong with 2.4 million to the 1.5 million of Cortellino.
And it was Cortellino that made his move soon thereafter. The hand began with Cortellino raising and Filippi calling from the big blind to see a flop. More betting led to an on the turn, at which point, Cortellino put in a bet but Filippi check-raised. Cortellino came over the top all-in with for top pair, but Filippi called with for two pair. When the came on the river, Filippi scooped the pot and sent Lenny Cortellino out in third place with $214,449.
Heads-up action began with the following counts:
Vadim Trincher 3,700,000
Amnon Filippi 4,160,000
Play started cautiously, mostly on the part of Filippi, and he began to lose ground. When Trincher took a 2.8 million chip pot from Filippi, the latter was facing more than a 2-to-1 deficit, and his opponent chipped away at him from there.
It took little more than 40 hands to decide the match. It began with Filippi making a raise and Trincher calling to see a flop. Filippi moved all-in for 1,050,000 with for top two pair, and Trincher called with and the flush draw. The turn brought the to give it to him, and the on the river sealed the deal. Amnon Filippi was once again denied a WPT title, and he left with a second place finish and $409,405.
Vadim Trincher became the newest WPT champion, taking the $731,079 first prize and the WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic title, along with a WPT bracelet, Foxwoods trophy, and entry into the $25K WPT World Championship later this month at Bellagio in Las Vegas.
(Thanks to WPT Live Updates for specific hand and chip count information.)