The Bellagio is one of the most beloved places to play poker on the World Poker Tour tournament circuit, and despite recent concerns about the structure of the Bellagio events and the high buy-in of $15K during a recession, the Festa al Lago event offered some twists that players seemed to like. The most interesting installation was that of the late registration that would remain available halfway through the second day of play. There were also quadruple starting chip stacks for those who chose to play from the Day 1 start time. And though it was a decreased field from the prior year, some of the biggest names in the game still came to play.
The WPT Festa al Lago began on Day 1 with players coming in throughout the day, starting with 140 and ending with 245 when nearly nine hours of play was complete. But at the same time 48 had busted, making for a grand total of just less than 200 at the end of the day, though more would be signing up during Day 2. That left organizers with no clear idea of how many players would make up the entire field in the event. All that was known at the end of the day was that Mike Matusow was the chip leader with 224,200 chips, and Mark Seif was a close second with 222,425.
Day 2 found more players coming to the tables - 30 to be exact - with Freddy Deeb and Kenny Tran being the last two to enter. Registration then closed at the end of Level 8 with a total of 275 players, which put the prize pool at exactly $4,001,250 and the first prize at $1,218,225. Only 27 players would be paid. When the day was complete, only 98 players remained from the starting field, and Jason Somerville was the chip leader with a stack of 557,000. Mark Seif held the second place spot with 473,200, and the rest of the top five included Dutch Boyd, Chad Batista, and Corwin Cole.
Day 3 started with a field of 98 but soon dwindled as players like Scott Clements, Alan Smurfit, and Jonathan Little were eliminated. Glen Chorny followed, as did Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Mike Matusow, and Justin Bonomo. The day ended with 37 remaining and Corwin Cole holding 996,000 in chips and the overall lead. In second place sat Jonas Entin, and the rest of the top five were Jason Lavallee, Dee Luong, and Mark Seif.
There were 10 players to be eliminated on Day 4 before the payouts began, and among those finishing just outside the money were Dan Shak, Cliff Josephy, Dee Luong, Brandon Cantu, and Andy Bloch. With the elimination of Jason Somerville in 29th place, hand-for-hand play kicked in, and it was soon after that Chau Giang pushed all-in for his last 199K. Prahlad Friedman called with pocket jacks, Matt Stout did the same with pocket tens, and Giang turned over . The board came , and Giang was gone in 28th place.
As the day turned to evening, several notables were eliminated in the money, such as the aforementioned Friedman in 26th place, Chris Ferguson in 25th, Mark Seif in 24th, Lee Markholt in 22nd, and Corwin Cole in 21st, and all were awarded $23,855 for their finishes. Further eliminations included Matt Glantz in 18th ($31,805), Dutch Boyd in 16th ($31,805), Vivek Rajkumar in 15th ($39,760), and Matt Stout in 13th ($39,760). Ultimately, Jason Burt eliminated Steve Brecher in 12th place, which was worth $47,710, to end the day’s action. Jason Lavallee led the counts with 4,063,000, and Freddy Deeb was a distant second with 2,319,000. Shawn Cunix, Kido Pham, and Tommy Vedes rounded out the top five.
Day 5 looked as if it may be a very short day, as the field of 11 players had to find their way to the final six for the TV table. Larry Berg started the day with an 11th place finish ($47,710), and Chris Bjorin followed ($47,710). Richard Sciuto exited in ninth place ($63,610), and Kido Pham was ousted in eighth ($89,450). The day was not so short after all, though, as it took more than six hours before the last person left the table.
It happened when Aaron Jones pushed all-in with , and Craig Crivello called from the small blind with pocket jacks. The board came , and the set of jacks was more than enough to eliminate Jones from the tournament in seventh place with $129,210. And with that, the final table was set for Monday, October 26, as follows:
|Seat 1: ||Tommy Vedes ||2,990,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Jason Lavallee ||2,045,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Craig Crivello ||2,570,000 |
|Seat 4: ||Freddy Deeb ||3,840,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Jason Burt ||1,375,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Shawn Cunix ||3,670,000 |
The final table action got underway on the WPT stage in the midst of Level 24, with blinds at 40K/80K and a 5K ante. Right out of the gate, Deeb took a 2 million-chip pot from Cunix to extend his lead over his opponents. Lavallee took a pot worth 2 million from Vedes, which prompted the latter to successfully pursue a double-up through Cunix.
That led Cunix to eventually find himself with only 550K and push all-in with . Crivello was the caller holding a dominating , but the flop brought help for Cunix with . The on the turn was harmless, but the on the river gave Crivello the flush. Shawn Cunix was eliminated in sixth place with $168,970.
Only five hands later, Burt moved all-in with just over 1 million chips, and his was up against the of Deeb. The flop only helped Deeb when it came , but the straight draw gave extra possibilities to Burt. The on the turn and on the river allowed Deeb’s hand to hold, though, and Jason Burt was gone in fifth place with $208,725.
Four-handed action found Lavallee in the chip lead but Deeb not far behind, but that soon changed. Vedes went on a solid run, doubling through Deeb and taking a subsequent big pot from Crivello.
Deeb was down below the 1 million-chip mark when he pushed all-in with , and Vedes was there to call with pocket sixes. The board blanked with , and that left Freddy Deeb out of the tournament in fourth place with $278,300.
Crivello was unable to comeback from the previous damage done by Vedes, and though he still had nearly 2 million chips, he chose to push it with . Lavallee was the original raiser and called with pocket tens. The dealer gave them , and Lavallee’s pocket pair held up. Craig Crivello was ousted in third place with $477,090.
For the 70th hand of the final table, heads-up chip counts started as follows:
|Seat 1: ||Tommy Vedes ||9,190,000|
|Seat 2: ||Jason Lavallee ||7,300,000 |
It took only six hands for Lavallee to take over the chip lead, and he furthered his lead a few hands later by winning a pot worth 3.1 million from Vedes.
Vedes was eventually chipped down to less than 6 million, and it got worse when Lavallee won a 6.8 million-chip pot from him. By the 115th hand of the tournament, Vedes was ready to move. With only 3.76 million chips, he pushed with A-10 to the A-J of Lavallee, but a ten came on the flop, and Vedes doubled up. Still the short stack, Vedes went for it again three hands later with pocket fives, and Lavallee called with pocket fours. Vedes’ hand held up, and he took a commanding lead with more than 14 million chips, while Lavallee sat with less than 2.5 million.
It took only three more hands before Lavallee decided to make his move. He did it with , and Vedes made the immediate call with . The board came , and Lavallee didn’t hit his straight. That left Jason Lavallee out of the tournament in second place with $795,150.
Tommy Vedes became the latest World Poker Tour champion, and he took home a Bellagio bracelet, WPT bracelet, Rolex watch, and $1,218,225 in prize money for the victory.