The final split pot event of the LAPC was a hard fought test of wills. Lady luck smiled heavily on one competitor, and as is often the case in poker, he (or she) who has the luck run their way gets the prize. That was precisely the case Friday night at the Commerce Casino, as nine players saddled up to try to pursue the top prize of over $45,000.
There were two critically short stacks at the beginning, and the first to go was out only three hands in. Anthony Reatugi threw his remaining 2,000 chips in (blinds were 500-1000 at this point), hoping his A2Q10 would hold up. But it was not meant to be, as Eulises Sandoval's A44J scooped a board of 83299, and Anthony Reatugi was off to start spending his $2,425 9th place finish money.
The next 45 minutes were marked by a fascinating saga, which I'll call the "Ballad of Tony Ma". Ma, the long time respected pro, was down to one chip on several occasions, and would be all in on his BB, only to survive with a piece of the pot each time. Ma, who was also playing in the NL event, which was happening on the other side of the ballroom started play right on time, as the dinner break for the NL players coincided with the start of the final table for this event. In true poetic fashion, the "Ballad of Tony Ma" ended on the last hand of the first hour, as he was again all in dark with A368. He was called, and scooped, however by the Q356 of Qi 'Candie' Liu on a board of 4424J. Tony Ma, finished 8th place, collected $3,301, and hustled off to the NL event, which was just starting back up. Ma did not miss a hand in either tournament now THAT's a poker player.
Next, we lost two players in a matter of two hands. Mike Longo, who had not had a lot of luck, ran into Scott Fishman's A5, and spade flush for a scoop on a board of Ks 7s 4s 3d Jc, was sent out into the night with 7th place money of $3,638. On the next hand, Eulises Sandoval was thinking low with a hand of A362, unfortunately, the board read 989JQ, and Jeff Calkins's AJK10 sent Eulises home with a 6th place payday of $4,244.
At this point, it seemed destined that Fishman, the two time bracelet winner at the 2004 WSOP, and Candie, who had a pretty significant lead on the table, would wind up going heads up for the title. The remaining three players chips couldn't combine to make Candie's stack, so it seemed a matter of time under they got ground down, and out of the tournament.
The next to go out was Jeff Calkins. Jeff had fought to try to survive, but it was just not meant to be, as his KJ29 desperation all in was met by Fishman's A31010 for Fishman's third scoop on an all in player. The board read 2557Q, and before you knew it, Jeff was at the counter, being paid $4,850 for his days work, and his 5th place finish.
The battle of the short stacks was next; Steve Stapornkul had been the short stack on no fewer than four different occasions. He took on Mike 'Zip' Vitello on a hand where both were pretty desperate. Zip was in the lead with a pair of 9's, but a J on the river, and no low was not the right code for Zip, as a J on the river ended his night. Mike 'Zip' Vitello finished 4th, and picked up $7,275 for his troubles.
After what seemed like forever, Steve 'Survivor' Stapornkul finally succumbed. His 3449 was looking low, but the board of J 10 8 6 10 had other ideas, and Candie's AQQ9 sent Steve out of the tournament. The short stack for probably one third of this entire final table, Steve should be applauded for hanging on, especially considering he started with only 9,000 chips to the chip leaders 48,000. Steve finished third, and collected $11,398.
What was I saying about luck before? Now we were down to heads up, and for the next 60 minutes Candie Liu caught every card imaginable. Make no mistake, Candie played well, but with every card falling her way, Scott Fishman was helpless to do anything to stop the inevitable. I remember a couple hands putting Candie on a hand, and thinking "Hmmm .she needs a 5 or a diamond for a scoop" bang 5 of diamonds ."Hmmm, I'll bet she could scoop with a low club" bang 6 of clubs. The sweet ending for Candie came soon enough, and although the players made a save deal, she took the trophy, and the adjusted first place money soon enough. Fishman was left talking to himself, but there was little that could be done to stop the force of Candie. The two competitors shook hands, and walked off into the night. Final results are below. Be sure to check back tomorrow, as a massive first place prize of $175,000 is up for grabs in the $1,000 NLHE event.
1st Qi 'Candie' Liu $38,000
2nd Scott Fishman $31,000
3rd Steve Stapornkul $11,398
4th Mike 'Zip' Vitello $7,275
5th Jeff Calkins $4,850
6th Eulises Sandoval $4,244
7th Mike Longo $3,638
8th Hieu "Tony" Ma $3,031
9th Anthony Reatugi $2,425