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WPT Season IX Championship
20 May 2011

A Nearly Perfect Game

It is said that poker is a game of mistakes, and it certainly seemed like Scott Seiver made the fewest mistakes at this table. He started 6-handed play with the confidence and ease of someone who has been there, done that, got the t-shirt. And this is only his first WPT final table!

Seiver started play just 20k behind chip leader Galen Hall, but his active cheering section let the room know that their man was sure to win. Loudly and frequently. Seiver's father was there to watch his son and cheer him on.

The Royal Flush Girls and the TV six at the start of play

No Random Guys

The $25k buyin shuts out all but well-established pros. And it's a high-prestige event that every well-established pro wants to win. Those ingredients theoretically produce a smallish and extremely tough field, and the final six players certainly support that theory. Even the bleachers were full of well-known pros, mostly rooting for Seiver.

Vivek Rajkumar rails the WPT Championship. He finished 4th in the Super High Roller event.

Big Slick Holds Up

The first two bustouts happened on consecutive hands, and A-K was the agent of destruction in both. Justin Young ran his A-J in to Galen Hall's A-K, then Tony Gargano got it all-in dominated with his K-J against Scott Seiver's A-K. Big Slick does of course play a huge role in tournaments, be we can't recall any back-to-back WPT hands in which A-K busted TV table players.

By this point, Seiver had built up a chip lead over Hall, followed by Bonyadi and Teska in a roughly 9:6:4:2 chip distribution. And if you guessed that Teska would be out 4th, you guessed right. He got it in good with A-10 when he called Galen Hall's shove with J-9. Unfortunately for Teska, a jack hit the flop and his tournament was over.

Battle for 2nd

Now it was Bonyadi's turn to bust, or so it seemed. He was low man on the roughly 4:2:1 chip distribution, with Seiver leading and Hall a distant but still hopeful second place. But Bonyadi is a hard-core old school toughie. He and Hall battled back and forth, trading small to medium sized pots, until Bonyadi doubled through Hall in a reverse-domination situation. Bonyadi got it in with A-3 vs. Hall's A-Q, but a 3 flopped.

Bonyadi doubled again, this time with the better hole cards. His A-Q held up against Hall's A-J, and now Hall was the short stack. Quite a crushing realization for Hall no doubt, as he had started 6-handed play with just 20k less than Seiver. Hall was knocked out in 3rd in an apparent failed steal attempt. He shoved with J-7, Seiver called with K-10, the flop gave Seiver trip kings, and Hall missed the runners he needed. Time for the money presentation!

Michelle and Melyssa get ready for the money presentation

The Royal Flush Girls showed us the money, then Seiver and Bonyadi showed us skill and determination.

Fear the Beard

Seiver started heads-up play with almost a 3:1 chip advantage over Bonyadi. So yes, players have overcome worse odds than that. But no, as tough as Bonyadi is, he simply couldn't get anything going. He lost a particularly big pot (about half his stack) by calling a large raise, then folding on a later street. We're looking forward to seeing the hole cards of both players on that hand.

Seiver himself made almost no mistakes in heads-up play, continuing with his near-perfect play over the duration of the TV table. He ground down his opponent, keeping the pressure on but rarely doubling him up. And he made it look easy. There was little if any chirping on the felt, but Seiver casually waved and smiled to his fans as they cheered his every move. From the start, it seemed as though Seiver was destined to win this thing, and that's exactly what happened.

From our point of view, it seemed as though Bonyadi hadn't swapped the "outlast Hall" mindset for the "shove and he can't make me fold" mindset. In other words, he didn't seem to be shoving often enough to stay ahead of the blinds or to push Seiver off raised pots.

An example of this slightly too-passive style is, appropriately, the final hand. We think that if Bonyadi had shoved on the flop or possibly the turn, he might have prevented his downfall by folding Seiver. Bonyadi turned two pair, Seiver rivered a straight, and they checked it down to the river. A raising war ensued when Bonyadi check-raised Seiver, who 3-bet all-in. Bonyadi tanked and eventually called with the losing hand.

Congratulations to Scott Seiver for putting on a WPT TV table clinic. He stayed out of trouble, protected his chips while attacking the shorter stacks, and seemed to be having fun while doing it all.

Here are the players' finishing places and winnings, courtesy of The World Poker Tour.

  Place Player Prize Money
  1st Scott Seiver $1,618,344
  2nd Farzad Bonyadi $1,061,900
  3rd Galen Hall $589,355
  4th Roger Teska $371,665
  5th Tony Gargano $278,749
  6th Justin Young $225,654

Justin Bonomo was in the grandstands supporting Seiver

Mike Sexton delivers the closing speech. "May all your cards be live and all your pots be monsters!"

Next Stop: World Series

The WPT's ninth season is over, but that can mean only one thing. The WSOP's forty-first season is just about to start. We'll be there to rail a few of the major WSOP events as usual, and we'll try to make it out to the Penn & Teller Theater for the November Nine again. Blogging and tweeting, of course.

Next: WSOP 2011 $50k Players Championship - Day 4...

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