The final taping of season three of the World Poker Tour was going to be the Battle of Champions. The Battle of Champions was a 'specialty' event where they collected eleven winners from the WPT season three, and had them play to see who was the 'best of the best'.
The format for this one is a little different than most of the 'specialty' WPT shows. Since there were eleven winners, they had to play down to the TV six, and that play took place earlier in the morning. The eleven champions were:
Michael 'Grinder' Mizrachi
In the morning session, Arnold Spee, Carlos Mortensen, Grinder, Surindar Sunar, and Danny Nguyen were eliminated, and so the set up for the TV table looked like this.
Seat 1 - Tuan Le - 1,499,000 in chips
Seat 2 - Eli Elizera - 915,000
Seat 3 - Alex Brenes - 576,000
Seat 4 - Michael Gracz - 1,137,000
Seat 5 - John Stoltzmann - 700,000
Seat 6 - Daniel Negreanu - 673,000
The action figure to be fast and furious, as "only" a $25,000 seat was at stake. The players did not disappoint, as chips were being thrown around at a fast pace. This was nice, as even though they started about an hour late due to some technical problems, I would make my nine o' clock dinner, which is of course what everyone was worried about.
The first player out was John Stoltzmann. John had lost about 1/3 of his stack earlier, and it was his time to go. Stolzmann re raised Tuan Le with the 8 9 of hearts. Tuan felt he had caught him with his hand in the cookie jar, and called with KJ. The doorcard was an eight, which made Stoltzmann happy, but the next two off were a King, and a Jack, and Stolzmann would make his 7 pm dinner. John Stolzmann, 6th place.
The next to go was Michael Gracz. Michael had just split a pot with Tuan when his 77 ran into Tuan's.....77. This time, there would be no split pots, however. Tuan made it 60k to go (Tuan probably raised every other hand), Eli Elizera re-raised 150k more, and Michael re-re-raised all in. Both Eli, and Tuan called, and checked the board down. The board came A 10 10 9 2. Michael showed 66 for a pair of sixes, Tuan showed AJ for the best hand, and Eli mucked. Michael Gracz, 5th place.
By far the most known player at the "Battle of Champions" was Daniel Negreanu. Daniel had not played many hands, but he finally tired of Tuan playing every hand, and called a large raise. The flop came 8 5 Q, and Tuan bet out 100,000. Daniel thought for a minute (they had the "action clock" at this tourney) and moved in. Tuan thought even longer, and called. Tuan had 7 8 of spades for a pair of 8's. Daniel had a queen, and felt good about things. The turn was a 6, giving Tuan a straight draw. The river was a four, which made Tuan's straight, and sent Daniel straight to the door. Daniel Negreanu, 4th place.
The next to go was Alex Brenes. Alex is the 'Other' Brenes, as he is the one of the Brenes brothers who really doesn't play that much poker. Not a bad finish for the brother who doesn't play much, as Alex won the Poker Stars Caribbean Challenge, and took third in this event. Alex had pocket fours, and put all his money in. Tuan felt a call with K J of clubs was the right thing to do. The flop came K J 10, and Alex was free to join his brothers back in Costa Rica. Alex Brenes, 3rd place.
On the final hand of the night, Eli took his pocket Jacks into battle for all his money, and Tuan called with Kc Qc. For the third time in this tournament, when Tuan had a King in his hand, a King came on the flop, and it was all over. Tuan Le is the Champion of the Battle of Champions, and as such will have a $25,000 seat in next year's WPT championship at Bellagio.