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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Prahlad Friedman Beats November Niner for WPT Legends Title

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The Bicycle Casino was the host for the legendary World Poker Tour Legends of Poker stop. The tournament began on August 22 and set up in the casino’s new Events Center for only one starting day. With low turnout for most of the Legends preliminary events, it seems it was a solid decision, as the final registration for the Main Event was the lowest since its first year. But the pro-heavy field still made for a multi-million dollar prize pool and interesting final table set-up.

Day 1 of the WPT Legends Main Event began with the entire field in place. The 279 players who signed up made for a $2,625,500 prize pool, which was to be divided amongst the final 27 players with first place receiving $1,009,000. Many big names were in the field with their deep stacks, but when the action came to an end in the late evening hours, only 183 remained. Sitting atop the leaderboard was Steve Begleiter, one of the November Nine players to be seated at the World Series of Poker final table in November. His stack of 235,275 was far ahead of second place Alex Golshanara. The rest of the top five were Tommy Vedes, Eugene Katchalov, and Sam Stein.

Day 2 played another five levels and saw the field diminish by more than half, as only 74 survived the action of the second day. But when the chips were counted, Begleiter was still in the top spot, this time with 426,100 chips. He was followed by Prahlad Friedman, Mike Krescanko, Bryan Devonshire, and James Mackey.

Day 3 saw the field find its way into the money toward the end of the day. And after numerous recognizable faces left the tournament, it was Men “The Master” Nguyen who was short-stacked and decided to push all-in for his last 44K with {3-Hearts}{2-Hearts} on a flop of {7-Clubs}{5-Spades}{3-Diamonds}. Peter Rho called with {A-Hearts}{4-Spades}. The turn was the {10-Hearts} and the river the {A-Spades}, and Rho’s hand knocked Nguyen out in 28th place on the money bubble. That left the window open for cashes, and Nick Schulman was the first to do so, taking home $18,285 for 27th place. Before the day came to an end, Bryan Devonshire took 26th place and Salvatore DiCarlo took 25th, and the remaining 24 players saw Todd Terry in top position with 850K. Another November Nine player, Kevin Schaffel, was in second place with 728K, and Begleiter hung in there to maintain third on the leaderboard. Fourth and fifth place spots were held by James Mackey and Eugene Katchalov.

Day 4 was set to determine the final table, and with 24 players to start, it looked to be - and was - a long day. The day started with Richard Scuito taking a 24th place finish, and other notables exiting the tournament throughout the afternoon and evening included Carter King in 19th place, Thu Nguyen in 14th, Eugene Katchalov in 13th, Eric Hershler in 12th, and James Mackey in 11th. The last ten players were seated at one table, at which point Todd Terry went on a mission and eliminated Sergei Veytser in tenth place, Steven Begleiter in ninth, and Matt Marafioti in eighth.

Seeking one more player to be eliminated before the night was completed, it came at the hands of Prahlad Friedman when he called the all-in of Vigen Manukyan, who pushed with pocket deuces. Friedman had pocket queens, and the board came {K-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}{3-Spades}{8-Diamonds}{10-Hearts} to send Manukyan packing in seventh place with $64,400. The final table was then set as follows:

Seat 1:
Sam Stein 
Seat 2:
Todd Terry
Seat 3:
Kevin Schaffel
Seat 4:
Prahlad Friedman
Seat 5:
Mike Krescanko
Seat 6:
Toto Leonidas

On Wednesday, August 26, the last six players gathered at the Bicycle Casino on the WPT stage to play for the win, and there was action on the very first hand. Stein doubled through Krescanko to save his tournament life, but Krescanko was then forced to consider a move soon.

Krescanko did it four hands later by pushing all-in preflop for his last 450K with {A-Spades}{Q-Clubs}, only to find out that Friedman had pocket kings with which to make the call. The board came {K-Clubs}{9-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}{Q-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}, and the set of kings took it down. Mike Krescanko was eliminated in sixth place with a consolation prize of $89,220.

Play slowed a great deal over the course of the next several rounds, and it took more than 50 hands to see another player put himself at risk. It was Stein who seemed unable to keep the momentum with which he started the final table action, and down to 755K, he pushed all-in from the big blind with {K-Hearts}{Q-Spades}. Schaffel called with pocket sevens, and he took an even bigger lead in the hand when the flop came {8-Clubs}{7-Diamonds}{3-Spades} to give him the set. The board finished with a {2-Hearts} turn and {2-Clubs} river for the full house, and Stein was ousted in fifth place with $116,225.

Over the course of the next 25 hands, Leonidas tried to make some moves and succeeded in doubling up twice through Schaffel. Still one of the shorter stacks, though, the aggressive Leonidas soon tried it again but found himself up against Friedman. The hand began with a {K-Spades}{6-Clubs}{2-Clubs} flop and a bet from Friedman. Leonidas responded with an all-in raise holding {A-Clubs}{9-Clubs} and the flush draw, but Friedman called with {A-Spades}{K-Diamonds} and top pair. The {J-Spades} came on the turn and the {2-Spades} showed up on the river, keeping Leonidas from getting there. Toto Leonidas left the tournament in fourth place with $144,600.

Terry performed quite well on Day 4 with a number of eliminations to his credit, but that energy didn’t seem to carry over to the final table. In the 107th hand of the night, he finally decided to push all-in with pocket fours, and Friedman called with {A-Clubs}{Q-Clubs}. The board produced {Q-Diamonds}{J-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{K-Spades}{K-Diamonds}, giving the best hand to Friedman and leaving Todd Terry with a third place finish and the $231,300 that went with it.

Heads-up action began in Level 25 with the following chip counts:

Prahlad Friedman
Kevin Schaffel

Six hands into the action, the two tangled in a growing pot that began with a limped {A-Clubs}{Q-Clubs}{3-Diamonds} flop. Schaffel pushed all-in after those cards came out with {Q-Hearts}{3-Hearts}, and Friedman took a reasonable amount of time to think about his move. After talking to Schaffel, Friedman called with {J-Clubs}{4-Clubs} and the flush draw, but it never arrived with the {8-Spades} turn and {2-Diamonds} river. Schaffel doubled up to come within about 600K of his opponent.

The duo battled for several rounds but Schaffel couldn’t seem to chip up enough to take the lead. Finally, the last hand began with a raise from Schaffel, reraise from Friedman, and an all-in reraise from Schaffel. Friedman gave it some thought and called with {A-Hearts}{Q-Spades}, and Schaffel was behind with his {K-Hearts}{J-Clubs}. The dealer slowly brought out the {10-Clubs}{3-Hearts}{2-Hearts} flop, the {4-Diamonds} turn, and the {9-Hearts} river, and nothing could save Schaffel from a second place finish, which came with a $471,670 prize.

Long-time pro Prahlad Friedman took down his first ever World Poker Tour title, which came with a WPT bracelet, $25,500 entry to the April 2010 WPT World Championship, and the $1,009,000 first place prize money.

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