The Hollywood Casino in Indiana worked its way onto the Season 8 schedule of the World Poker Tour in 2010. The small riverboat casino near Cincinnati was willing to pay the fees to be a part of the WPT, and the WPT welcomed it, especially after having lost or purposely canceled several other tournament stops in recent years. But the combination of the remote location, the relatively small venue, and the large buy-in of $10K in the Midwest U.S. that has been hit hard by financial woes in recent years made it a tough sell, as evidenced by the lowest turnout at a WPT event in many years.
The WPT Indiana geared up for action on March 20, and a total of 144 players came to the tables on the sole starting day. The resulting prize pool was $1,331,616, which only allowed payouts for the final 12 players and a first prize of $391,212. Among the players who didn’t make it to the end of the day were Gavin Smith, JJ Liu, Josh Arieh, Jonathan Little, and Tom Marchese, while there were 96 players still holding chips. And when they were counted, it was Eric Froehlich as the chip leader with 149,400 chips, followed by Faraz Jaka and his 144,225-chip stack. The rest of the top five included Mike Mustafa, Gevork Kasabyan, and Jess Yawitz.
Day 2 got underway and saw many more big names exit the field as the hours went by. Some of the recognizable players making their exits were Kathy Liebert, Vanessa Rousso, Jason Mercier, Hoyt Corkins, Erik Seidel, Prahlad Friedman, and Day 1 chipleaders Eric Froehlich and Faraz Jaka. And when all was said and done, there were 38 players remaining with Dwyte Pilgrim at the top of the leaderboard with 313,900 chips. Sitting in second place was Frank Calo with 260,000 chips, and rounding out the top five were Tyler Smith, Len Ashby, and Craig Smith.
Day 3 looked to be a fairly quick day with the intention of playing from 38 into the money at 12 players, but when five levels were complete and 15 players remained, the decision was made to stop the action. Along the way, players like Erick Lindgren and Joe Serock were eliminated, leaving few well-known players left in the field. But when the chips of the 15 remaining players were counted, it was Frank Calo holding the leading stack of 649,000 chips, followed by Todd Terry with 515,000. Also in the top five were Mike Miller, Len Ashby, and Dwyte Pilgrim.
Day 4 began with a quick exit by Shawn Buchanan in 15th place, courtesy of Dwyte Pilgrim. And a bit later, Pilgrim was the next to be eliminated, followed by Eric Lynch and Ty Reiman. And it only took a few hands after Reiman’s exit to find the television table bubble player. Todd Terry had only 292K remaining and pushed it all-in from the small blind with . Frank Calo called and caught a pair on the flop. An came on the turn to change nothing, and the on the river ended Terry’s run in seventh place, and he exited with $72,349 for the deep run.
That left six players to return on March 24 to compete for the WPT win at the final table, and their starting chip counts were as follows:
|Seat 1: ||Mike Mustafa ||990,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Jerry Payne ||268,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Carlos Mortensen ||1,127,000 |
|Seat 4: ||Ravi Raghavan ||488,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Chris Bell||372,000|
|Seat 6: ||Frank Calo ||1,075,000 |
Action started at the final table in the midst of Level 20, with blinds at 10K/20K and a 2K ante.
It only took 19 hands before one of the short stacks was ready to move. After Mustafa came in with a raise from the small blind, Payne pushed from the big blind for his last 357K with , but Mustafa called with a dominating . The board brought nothing of note when it came , and Jerry Payne was gone in sixth place with $88,791.
A few rounds then played out before another short-stacked player pushed. Raghavan had only 448K remaining and pushed it with pocket fives, but Calo reraised to isolate, and it worked. Calo showed pocket kings, and the board produced to eliminate Ravi Raghavan in fifth place, which was worth a payout of $105,234.
Only two hands later, Bell made his move. With only 195K in chips, he pushed from the small blind with , and Mortensen was there to make the call with pocket fours. The race was on until the flop of hit the board to give Mortensen the set of fours. The on the turn and on the river sealed the deal, and Chris Bell was sent away with $124,966 for the fourth place finish.
The three remaining players were nearly even in chips, but it didn’t take long for Calo to win a large pot from Mortensen and soar into the lead. But the lead changed hands many more times in the subsequent rounds of play, until one big hand developed to change it all.
Mortensen raised from the small blind and Calo called from the big blind to see a flop of . When Mortensen led out with a bet, Calo raised all-in with for top two pair, and Mortensen called with pocket threes for the straight draw. An came on the turn to give Calo flush outs on top of his best hand, but the river produced a to give Mortensen the set of threes. Frank Calo was eliminated in third place with $167,717.
Heads-up play was then set to begin with the following chip counts:
|Mike Mustafa ||2,059,000 |
|Carlos Mortensen ||2,261,000 |
The battle began with Mortensen taking down a 1.78-million chip pot shortly into the match, giving him a 2-to-1 lead over Mustafa. But about 25 hands later, Mustafa took a significant pot to even it back up, and two hands later, he took the lead. But it would change hands multiple times over the course of the next 30 or so hands.
But on the 131st hand of the night, the two got involved to see a flop of . Mustafa bet, Mortensen check-raised, and Mustafa pushed all-in. Mortensen called with and the straight, which beat the and two pair of Mustafa. The on the turn and on the river gave Mortensen the double-up. Mustafa was left with 180K, which equaled about three big blinds.
Mustafa pushed on the next hand and doubled up. Three hands later, Mustafa did it again. But Mortensen still maintained a dominating lead with 3.6 million to the 720K of Mutsafa.
Three hands after that, Mustafa decided to try it again, this time with . Mortensen was there with , and the board came , which gave Mortensen the flush and the victory. Mike Mustafa was eliminated in second place with $223,623.
Carlos Mortensen won the inaugural WPT Indiana tournament, complete with a WPT bracelet and $393,820 in prize money. But there was more to it than that. At the point that he made it to heads-up play, he passed Daniel Negreanu as the highest all-time money winner on the World Poker Tour. And by winning the tournament and grabbing his third WPT title, he tied Gus Hansen for the record of most WPT titles.