The World Poker Tour kicked off its ninth season in July at the Bellagio and followed it up with the long running Legends of Poker in Los Angeles. The WPT stop in London was next and one of the many new facets to the tour for this season. With PartyPoker holding the reigns, it was inevitable that the WPT would travel to more non-U.S. locations, and London was the first foray into new territory. The London Poker Classic started on August 30 at the Palm Beach Casino at the Mayfair Hotel in London, and with Bellagio’s tournament director Jack McClelland at the helm, the £5,300 buy-in NLHE tournament got underway.
The first of two starting days brought a number of well-known players to the tables, such as Dragan Galic, James Akenhead, Jesse May, Huck Seed, Phil Ivey, Praz Bansi, Andrew Robl, Nicolas Levy, Roland de Wolfe, Luke Schwartz, Ian Frazer, and Felipe Ramos. Erik Seidel was also in the event, which was his 101st WPT tournament for which he was recognized by the team on site. There were 72 players in all, and many busted throughout the day, with Galic, Akenhead, and de Wolfe among them. When the day was over, no number of remaining players was given, but the chip leader was identified as Seidel with 226,200. Second was Talal Shakerchi with 188,600 chips, followed by Bruce Atkinson, Phil Ivey, and Igor Kurgandu.
Day 1B brought more players into action, as names like Chris Moorman, Neil Channing, Heather Sue Mercer, Bruno Fitoussi, and Richard Ashby bought in. Others who joined in the WPT event included Freddy Deeb, Marty Smyth, Frank Kassela, Barry and Allyn Shulman, Tony G, and Steven Van Zadelhoff. Along the way, Channing and Barry Shulman were among those eliminated, but approximately 54 players made it through the day. Priyan de Mel was at the top of the leaderboard with 235K, followed by Ashby with 229,800. The rest of the top five included Giovanni Safina, Tyler Shook, and Josh Field.
Day 2 brought a total of 94 players back to the tables for a day of togetherness as the field prepared to thin. And it was on that second day that the official numbers were given. There were 171 players in the field despite the earlier numbers given, and the prize pool came to £820,800, which was approximately equivalent to $1,269,000. The money was to be doled out to the final 18 players with the ultimate winner taking home £273,783. But it was going to take awhile to get to that money, and some of the early eliminations included Tony G, Todd Terry, Freddy Deeb, and Felipe Ramos, and later in the day, Phil Ivey and Erik Seidel followed. That left only 39 players in the field, and Giovanni Safina held on to the chip lead with 508,800 with Tonio Roeder and his 424,200 not far behind. Talal Shakerchi, Bruce Atkinson, and Philip Patrick were also in the top five.
Day 3 started with those 39 players and it didn’t take long to play down to the final 18. Luke Schwartz was one of the first to go, and it was later in the day that Praz Bansi and Allyn Shulman also departed. Huck Seed left in 24th place, and eventually at the point that 19 players were left with one to go on the money bubble, Victor Ilyukhin pushed all-in for his last 30K with , and Sandiep Khosa called with 3-2 of unknown suits. The board came , and the two pair for Khosa eliminated Ilyukhin in 19th place. The rest of the 18 players retired for the day, assured of a minimum £8,848 payout on the following day. And it was again Giovanni Safina in the chip lead, this time with 1,271,000, and Fabian Quoss in second place was a considerable distance behind with 720K. Following to round out the top five were Kristoffer Thorsson, Jake Cody, and Gareth Teatum.
Day 4 was to be a short one also, as play needed to take the field of 18 and thin it to the eight-handed final table. Karl Limbert was the first to go, taking home £8,848 for the 18th place finish. Some others who followed included John Dwyer and Philip Patrick, and when Talal Shakerchi left in tenth place, bubble play ensued. Eventually, it was Priyan de Mel who pushed his short stack all-in with against the of Kristoffer Thorsson. A king came on the unknown board to give Thorsson the better hand, and de Mel was out in ninth place with £12,871.
The final table was then set for September 4 as follows:
|Giovanni Safina ||1,546,000 |
|Kristoffer Thorsson ||1,317,000 |
|Fabian Quoss ||1,068,000 |
|Nichlas Mattsson || 805,000 |
|Jake Cody ||786,000 |
|Bruce Atkinson ||535,000 |
|Sandiep Khosa ||397,000 |
|Gareth Teatum ||387,000 |
Action got underway with a bit of caution, though Atkinson was eventually ready to make his move and successfully doubled through Quoss to stay in the game. Cody was one of the aggressors during the early stages, climbing the leaderboard, as Safina took a few steps down. At the end of Level 1, all eight players remained.
But things soon sped up. Teatum, who started the day with the shortest stack of all, made his all-in push with . Cody called with unknown cards, but they were reportedly good enough to win the hand on a board of . Gareth Teatum was eliminated in eighth place with £18,100.
Quoss never actually recovered from Atkinson’s early double-up, though he wasn’t the shortest stack at the table. Nevertheless, Quoss pushed all-in with , and Cody called with pocket tens. The board came , and that was enough to send Fabian Quoss packing in seventh place with £26,144.
With that, Cody was the dominating chip leader with more than 2 million chips. Mattsson then doubled through Khosa to stay alive, and the latter was left in a desperate situation with approximately 150K.
It didn’t take long for Khosa to push his short stack, and he did it with . Mattsson decided to battle with him again, this time with , and the race was on. The flop of brought quite a bit of hope for Khosa with the up-and-down straight draw, but the on the turn and on the river denied the straight. That left Sandiep Khosa out of the tournament in sixth place with £34,189.
Play continued with Atkinson climbing and Cody suffering. When the dinner break gave them all a much-needed break, Thorsson was in the lead with 2.19 million with Cody in a distant second with 1,335,000. Safina followed, then Mattsson, and Atkinson was on the short stack with 983K. After dinner, Cody slipped much further and sat in last place as a result of losing even more chips, but by achieving a massive double-up through Thorsson, Cody ultimately regained his lead over the others. And by taking a 1.2 million-chip pot from Safina, he climbed even further.
Original chip leader Safina was on a short stack of 515K and decided to risk it with , but Cody happened to make the call with a dominating . The board produced to change nothing, and Giovanni Safina was gone in fifth place with £42,322.
After Mattsson doubled through Thorsson, the latter was left with only about 430K, and he pushed that into the pot with . Cody called from the big blind with and was going to need to improve to knock Thorsson out of the tournament. The flop of blanked, but the on the turn gave Cody the pair of kings and the advantage. The on the river ended it for Kristoffer Thorsson, who finished in fourth place with £56,311.
Three-handed action started with Cody holding a two-to-one advantage over second placed Mattsson, and Atkinson was on the short stack with 650K.
It didn’t take long for Atkinson to make a move, and he did it with . Cody called immediately with and the lead in the hand. The board came to squash Atkinson’s outs and give the pot to Cody. Bruce Atkinson was eliminated in third place with £93,316.
Heads-up play then commenced with the following chip counts:
|Jake Cody ||4,845,000 |
|Nichlas Mattsson ||1,920,000 |
Cody was nothing but aggressive during the match, consistently putting his opponent to the test, and Mattsson was not able to follow through on any of the hands. Mattsson was bleeding chips, while Cody held a four-to-one lead.
Mattsson finally took down a small pot. And he took a larger one a short time later to climb over the 2 million mark. Slow and steady was staving off elimination, but it wasn’t long before Mattsson decided to move with . But Cody didn’t hesitate for a moment to make the call with pocket queens, and the board of did nothing to change the outcome. Nichlas Mattsson finished the tournament in second place with £176,979.
Jake Cody, who won the EPT Deauville to start his year, added another notch to his belt by winning the WPT London Poker Classic, for which he won £273,783.