Wembley Stadium in London hosted the inaugural event of the €3,000 buy-in International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT) Main Event. Winner? Jakub Michalak!
Michalak has the honor of being the top-ranked online player in Poland, according to PocketFives.com, and ranks in the top 50 in the world. If you could run through a Q&A with Michalak, he'd tell you he got lucky in two critical pots when he was up against the aggressive Nottingham-based player Pete Linton. But since the luck factor is always present when a deck of cards is part of the playing field, he'd also tell you he backed it up with intelligent and aggressive short-handed play to take home the victory.
A deal had been discussed both Tuesday night and Wednesday morning before cards went in the air at the final table. That's expected with a nearly €600,000 overlay. The players hammered out the final details which were as follows:
|Xavier El Fassy||€204,000|
That still left €200,000 on the table for first place. The chip counts and seating were as follows:
|Seat 1||Pete Linton||11,070,000|
|Seat 2||Nick Hicks||6,230,000|
|Seat 3||Jakub Michalak||4,825,000|
|Seat 4||Alban Juen||7,615,000|
|Seat 5||Gwendoline Janot||5,880,000|
|Seat 6||Xavier El Fassy||4,555,000|
The Bobby Moore Suite was the setting for the final table and the Executive Box Suite overlooking the Wembley pitch from a great height was where all the final action would be held. The giant inflatable poker domes that had held 761 players a few days earlier were gone; the field was undergoing changes for the upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert.
Pete Linton was the only player with eight figures in chips and was the 'player-to-beat' going into the final table, holding just over a quarter of the chips in play. Linton suffered a big loss to Michalak early on when they went to war with kings and ace-queen, respectively. Linton kept his cool as he and Michalak continued to battle with each other in several pots as they tried to bluff and rebluff each other.
Gwendoline Janot went to the rail first. She was crippled after losing with pocket sevens to Xavier El Fassy's kings, and was knocked out on the very next hand by Michalak. Frenchman Alban Juen took the next train to the rail after starting the day second in chips but a raising war with Linton took care of his stack when he was eliminated after losing the flip.
Michalak and Linton got into another big pot, which wasn't surprising after the earlier battles, and more than half the chips in play went into the middle as Linton's ace-queen was up against Michalak's king-jack.
After a 30 minute dinner break Nick Hicks, who'd been mostly card dead and quiet during the final table, was trapped when Michalak flopped trips against Hicks' top pair.
Michalak started heads-up with close to a 8-to-1 chip lead over recreational player Xavier El Fassy. It wasn't long before the chips were in the middle. El Fassy had kings against Michalak's ace-seven but an ace on the flop got help with another ace on the river.
Wembley Stadium's most famous comment, “They think it's all over, it is now” would be appropriate when the last card fell. Michalak took home €236,000 for his historic win at the legendary stadium.
The ISPT has been considered controversial by many, including a sit-back-an-watch to see how the event played out. Many wondered if such an event would ever truly be considered feasible and why Dusk Til Dawn, very respected in its own right, would partner up with such a tour. The numbers were not as high as the ISPT and DTD would've hoped but logistically the tournament was a success and there were very few complaints about anything. Will both parties continue with another stadiums poker tour? Unknown at this time.
Congratulations to everyone that made it a success!