The PartyPoker Premier League VI got underway with qualifying events on February 9, 2010, at the M Resort in Las Vegas. With one of its new Team PartyPoker members, Kara Scott, as its on-camera host and players at the ready, fans gathered to witness one of the most exciting set of events that live poker has to offer. Playoffs were the first events on tap, as 6 Team PartyPoker players and 16 PartyPoker online qualifiers were set to compete for their spots in the $100K buy-in Main Event.
Each round of playoffs consisted of three heats. The first got underway with Mike Sexton, Bodo Sbrzensy, Remy Biechel, Ian Frazer, Dragan Galic, and Felipe Ramos. Points were tallied for each heat, which determined how many chips each player would have at the final table of that playoff round, and Ramos went into action with 400K, Galic with only 200K, and the others with varying stacks between the two. When action played out on the third day of preliminaries, the last two players standing were Biechel and Frazer, with Frazer quickly defeating his opponent and earning his seat in the Main Event.
Out of the qualifying rounds for the internet winners, only 6 of the 16 made it to their final table: Talal Shakerchi, Miguel Proulx, Giovanni Rizzo, Giovanni Safina, Scott Wellenbach, and Paul Riggot. Shakerchi took 320K chips into play, Riggot took 140K, and all others were in the middle. Action at the final table played out until Proulx and Safina were heads-up, and the latter was able to secure a seat in the Main Event.
On Friday, February 12, the $1.5 million Main Event began with Heat 1. Starting chip stacks were 300K per player, and points were to be given based on finishes: first place 16 points, second 11 points, third 8 points, fourth 6 points, fifth 4 points, sixth 3 points, seventh 2 points, and no points for eighth place. The following 8 players were at the table: Phil Laak, defending champion JC Tran, Vanessa Rousso, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Ian Frazer, Luke Schwartz, Roland de Wolfe, and Daniel Negreanu. Negreanu was the first player out, and Laak beat Tran to be the last one standing.
Heat 2 on February 13 found the following players at the table: Laak, Tran, de Wolfe, Timoshenko, Phil Hellmuth, David Benyamine, Tony G, and qualifier Giovanni Safina. The excitement began with Timoshenko being the first one eliminated, and Tony G followed. Finally, heads-up play resulted in Laak defeating de Wolfe to take down his second heat in a row and sit high atop the points leaderboard with 32 points.
Heat 3 began with seven players: David Benyamine, Giovanni Safina, Roland de Wolfe, Phil Hellmuth, Vanessa Rousso, Daniel Negreanu, and Yevgeniy Timoshenko. And with de Wolfe out first, followed by Rousso and Hellmuth, play continued until a heads-up battle between Benyamine and Safina resulted in the former claiming victory. Upon the conclusion of play, Laak remained in first place on the points board with 32, but Benyamine took a solid second with 24 points, followed by Tran, Timoshenko, and Safina.
Heat 4 started with Tony G, Vanessa Rousso, Ian Frazer, JC Tran, Luke Schwartz, Giovanni Safina, David Benyamine, and Phil Laak. Tran was the first to depart, followed by Frazer and Tony G. And in the end, it was Laak and Benyamine battling for points, with the former ultimately claiming a third victory thus far in the heats. It was certainly getting exciting as Laak sat comfortably with 48 points, followed by Benyamine with 35 points and the qualifier Safina showing up in third place with 21.
Heat 5 started with the following players: Giovanni Safina, JC Tran, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Luke Schwartz, Ian Frazer, Phil Hellmuth, Tony G, and Daniel Negreanu. Timoshenko was the first to be eliminated again, Hellmuth left soon after, and action ultimately proceeded to the heads-up portion of the day, where Frazer defeated Schwartz. The standings at the end of the day still saw Laak on top, Benyamine in second, but Safina climbing to 29 points and Frazer sitting in fourth now with 26 points.
And finally, the last heat began with Laak, Benyamine, Schwartz, de Wolfe, Rousso, Negreanu, Tony G, and Hellmuth. Contrary to past performances, Laak was the first to be sent to the rail. Tony G followed, as did Benyamine. When it came down to heads-up action, Negreanu came back from a chip deficit to defeat Hellmuth.
The standings after the heats showed that four players were eliminated and would not be able to qualify for any seats at the final table or tie-breaking heads-up matches; those players out of the tournament were Hellmuth, Timoshenko, Rousso, and Tony G. Those players with one more chance to qualify by winning a heads-up match the following day, were Negreanu and Tran, and Frazer and de Wolfe, both lined up as listed for their last-chance matches. And the four players who were guaranteed spots at the final table were Laak, Benyamine, Safina, and Schwartz.
Finally, the last day of play had arrived on Thursday, February 18. Action began with the two heads-up matches, which found Negreanu able to defeat Tran and de Wolfe eliminating Frazer. That meant that the final table included the following players with chips based on points finishes from the preceding heats:
|Roland de Wolfe||220,000|
Play got underway, and over the course of the first few levels, Laak lost his lead to Schwartz, who took over top chip position. Benyamine and Safina lost ground as well, though de Wolfe gained significant ground to jump to third place.
Ultimately, it was Laak who was unable to keep up the momentum he held through most of his heats. After Laak raised preflop, Benyamine moved all-in, and after much consideration, Laak called all-in for his tournament life with pocket tens. Benyamine showed , and the race was on. The flop was harmless, but the hit on the turn to give Benyamine top pair. The on the river ended the run for Phil Laak, who finished in sixth place for $50,000.
Moments later, it was de Wolfe who moved all-in with , and Negreanu called right away with pocket nines. The flop only helped Negreanu with for the set, and the came on the turn to leave de Wolfe with no more outs. The on the river was too little, too late, and Roland de Wolfe was eliminated in fifth place with $70,000.
Negreanu then experienced a roller coaster during the next few rounds. His elimination of de Wolfe left him as the chip leader, but Schwartz was able to double through Negreanu in a very sizable hand, leaving the latter with only 131K. Negreanu was able to double through Benyamine, but he soon found another opportunity too good to pass up.
Negreanu limped into a pot with , Benyamine limped from the small blind with , and Safina checked his big blind with . But when the flop came , Negreanu was the first to bet. Benyamine check-raised, and when Safina folded, Negreanu reraised all-in with his middle pair and flush draw. Benyamine called with top two pair. The on the turn gave Benyamine the full house, and the on the river officially ended the hand. Daniel Negreanu was out of the tournament in fourth place with $80,000.
It only took about 15 minutes to find another adventurous player, and it happened to be Safina, who pushed all-in preflop with . Schwartz called immediately with . The flop of changed nothing, nor did the on the turn, but the came down on the river, giving Schwartz the bottom pair and the pot. Online qualifier Giovanni Safina exited in third place, which was good for a $100,000 payday.
Heads-up play then began with the following chip counts:
Schwartz took the first pot, but Benyamine then doubled up with K-10 of diamonds against the K-7 offsuit of Schwartz when three diamonds came on the board. As Benyamine accumulated more chips, Schwartz was unable to stop his momentum.
It didn't take long for the two to tangle in a pot to determine the match. Schwartz raised preflop and Benyamine called to see a flop. Schwartz bet out, but Benyamine raised it up. Schwartz came over the top all-in for his last 480K holding for top pair. But Benyamine held for top pair with the better kicker and thought for a while before finally calling. A came on the turn, followed by a on the river, which ended the tournament. Luke Schwartz finished in second place for $200,000.
David Benyamine won the PartyPoker Premier League IV, which was worth $400,000 in prize money.