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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Tom Marchese Fights the Odds and Wins First NAPT Venetian

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When the newly-formed North American Poker Tour (NAPT) was announced at the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January, the buzz was serious. The PCA Main Event was the first stop on the tour, and winner Harrison Gimbel became the first NAPT champion. Only two more stops were announced at that time, the next being the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza; the $5,000 buy-in Main Event, was to be the second NAPT event.

The time went by quickly, and February 20 arrived as the first day of the NAPT Venetian in Las Vegas. After a welcome party the previous night at Tao nightclub at the Venetian, which featured a performance from hip-hop superstar T-Pain, players looked a little worn entering the poker room for the first day of the tournament but still excited to take part.

Day 1 ultimately found 872 players in the field, which was very close to the maximum number that the Venetian Poker Room could handle. All paid their $5,000 buy-ins to play, and the field was filled with a large number of pros mixed with hundreds of online and satellite qualifiers. Even Brad Garrett, Montel Williams, and Orel Hershiser played in the event. The final tally on the prize pool was $4,017,740, with over $827K reserved for first place. And when the eight-level day was done, it was Andy Seth who led the crowd in chips with a stack of 245,600.

Day 2 brought 477 players back to the tournament area, and play was swift as competitors disappeared from the field in numbers unanticipated by most. And when the day was done with 149 remaining, it was Andrew Lichtenberger in the chip lead with 618,700 chips, but not far behind was Seth again, this time with 602,600 chips.

Day 3 was a big one at the NAPT, as the 149-player field quickly thinned toward the money. Hand-for-hand play lasted awhile with several players doubling up to stay in the game, but eventually it was Daniel Schreiber who pushed his short stack all-in with queen-high and found himself up against Kyle Zartman’s pocket aces. Schreiber left in 129th place, and the last 128 players were in the money and guaranteed a minimum payout of $7,232. And at the end of the day, as action moved toward the final 24 players, it was Vanessa Rousso who put her short stack at risk with {K-Spades}{6-Clubs} against the pocket sevens of Tom Marchese. The board came {10-Spades}{3-Hearts}{J-Diamonds}{A-Clubs}{J-Clubs}, and she was gone in 25th place. Eric Blair ended the day as the chip leader with 3.7 million chips, and he was followed by Sam Stein and his stacks of 3,409,000 chips.

Day 4 aimed to play down to the final table and did so in much less time than anticipated. And along the way, many well-known players exited the field in the money, including Christina Lindley in 24th place, Jason Dewitt in 23rd, Jonathan Aguiar in 22nd, Blair Hinkle in 20th, Andrew Chen in 13th, Steve Billirakis in 12th, and Andrew Lichtenberger in tenth. On the final table bubble with all players seated at one table, it was Kyle Zartman crippled by David Paredes who doubled through him. Zartman then put himself at risk with {Q-Spades}{3-Hearts} against the {A-Spades}{K-Clubs} of John Cernuto, and the board blanked to send Zartman out in ninth place with $44,195.

The final table was then set for February 24 as follows:

Seat 1:
Daniel Clemente
Seat 2:
Sam Stein
Seat 3:
Thomas Fuller
Seat 4:
John Cernuto
Seat 5:
Yunus Jamal
Seat 6:
David Paredes
Seat 7: 
Tom Marchese
Seat 8:
Eric Blair

Action got off to a bit of a slow start, but the players soon proved that they enjoyed the all-in move. Marchese got off to a strong start without that move, but Clemente doubled early through Paredes.

Blair also made a move, pushing all-in preflop for his last 1.4 million with pocket sevens, but Stein was there with {A-Clubs}{K-Diamonds}. The flop immediately paired Stein when it came {K-Clubs}{6-Spades}{2-Hearts}{10-Hearts}{4-Diamonds}, and Eric Blair was gone in eighth place with $60,266.

It wasn’t long before the shortest stack at the table moved. Cernuto and Stein got involved in a preflop raising war that put Cernuto all-in with {A-Clubs}{5-Clubs}. Stein turned over the {J-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}. The flop was great for Cernuto as it came {A-Hearts}{9-Clubs}{4-Hearts}, but Stein found a {10-Spades} on the turn and {J-Diamonds} on the river to win it with two pair. “Miami” John Cernuto was eliminated in seventh place with $104,461.

Fuller was the next to push when he woke up with pocket jacks, but Clemente couldn’t have called faster with his pocket queens. The board brought nothing of interest as it fell {3-Hearts}{A-Clubs}{7-Hearts}{7-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds} to send Thomas Fuller out in sixth place with $144,639.

More double-ups were in order over the next few rounds, as Jamal doubled through Clemente and Paredes doubled through Jamal.

But Paredes had been itching to move for awhile and decided to try it again. This time, it was with the absolute best hand, as he called Stein’s all-in with pocket aces. Stein showed pocket jacks and was behind, though that tended not to mean anything with Stein’s luck. And the flop proved it when it came {Q-Spades}{J-Hearts}{9-Clubs}. Stein did hit trip jacks, and the {Q-Hearts} only made it into a full house. The river of {6-Diamonds} ended the misery, and David Paredes left in fifth place with $184.816.

Stein then seemed to lose some of his momentum, as Jamal and Clemente both doubled through him. Nevertheless, the pots he did win kept him above the 14.5 million mark, while only Clemente had more than 5 million. But Marchese doubled through Clemente, who doubled back through Marchese twice, and Jamal was also able to score one from Marchese.

But Jamal was still the shortest of the four players, and he eventually moved again, this time with pocket tens. Marchese called with {A-Hearts}{Q-Spades}, and he took the lead in the hand with an ace on the {A-Clubs}{J-Spades}{6-Hearts} flop. The {K-Hearts} on the turn and {2-Spades} on the river ended the hand, and Yunus Jamal was ousted in fourth place with $241,064.

It wasn’t long before Clemente made a move, and it happened when Marchese reraised him all-in from the big blind. Clemente was on the button and decided to call with {A-Clubs}{8-Diamonds}. But Marchese turned up pocket queens, which held up on the {J-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}{2-Spades}{7-Diamonds}{9-Spades} board. Daniel Clemente was eliminated in third place and took home $309,366 for the accomplishment.

Heads-up action began as follows:

Sam Stein
Tom Marchese

Stein came out aggressively in the early hands of the match, but one hand changed everything.

The two went to a flop of {6-Diamonds}{K-Clubs}{5-Hearts}, and Marchese led out with a bet that Stein check-called. The {4-Spades} on the turn found the same action – a bet from Marchese and check-call from Stein. But the {10-Clubs} on the river brought another check from Stein. Marchese pushed all-in with {K-Spades}{9-Hearts} for top pair, and Stein called with only {J-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} for fourth pair. The crowd and media were in amazement that he put Marchese on a complete bluff, but Marchese had the best hand by far and doubled through Stein to take the lead.

The next big hand to develop started with a raised {9-Diamonds}{5-Hearts}{4-Clubs} flop. Marchese bet, and Stein check-called. When the {3-Clubs} came on the turn, Marchese bet 1.825 million, and Stein again check-called. The {10-Spades} on the river brought another check from Stein, but Marchese pushed all-in. Stein thought about it for more than a few minutes before finally calling for his tournament life with {4-Spades}{2-Spades}. That pair of fours was no good against the pocket tens of Marchese that turned into a set on the river. Sam Stein left with a second place finish and $522,306.

Tom Marchese took home the biggest win of his poker life thus far with $827,648 for the victory, along with the title of 2010 NAPT Venetian Main Event champion.

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