Battling through the massive field in one of the most prestigious tournaments around in the poker world today, Mike Schneider, a young college student from the University of Minnesota, walked away with the championship of the PartyPoker Million V over the weekend.
528 runners came to the M. S. Westerdam to vie for the over $5 million purse that was offered by PartyPoker in the largest Limit Hold 'Em tournament in the world. There were many professionals aboard the ship, which included Chip and Karina Jett, recent WPT Invitational Champion Barry Greenstein and double World Series of Poker final table finisher Joe Sebok among the most notable of the participants. The rest of the field was composed of players from PartyPoker.com, who ran satellites year-round to allow their online patrons to earn their way onto the cruise.
While the players vied for their positions at the final table, there was much more on tap for the denizens of the cruise than just the poker. Along with the featured poker tournament, there was a blackjack championship and a slots competition as well. Once everyone was done with the gaming, they were able to enjoy the exotic ports of call of the Caribbean. Stops in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and the Grand Cayman Islands soothed the battered gambling participants and made for an enjoyable trip for everyone involved.
Early action seemed to be cruel to the professionals at the tables. Greenstein, Sebok and Chip Jett were among the casualties who were unable to make it out of the first day. Canadian poker pro Gavin Smith was one of the more prominent players who reached the cash out level of the tournament (which paid out an astounding 99 players), but only one high-profile poker pro was able to make his way to the final table.
The final table was surprising in, of the six men who survived to be there, four of the participants actually bought into the tournament rather than qualifying at PartyPoker. Most notable of the final table combatants was California poker professional Kenna James, who has been quietly having excellent early success in the 2006 season. Joining James at the final table were Schneider, Scott Buller (who made PartyPoker Million history by becoming the first person ever to make two PartyPoker Million final tables and maintained his history of cashing in every PartyPoker Million event), burgeoning Los Angeles poker pro Devon Miller and two online qualifiers, Drew Chitiea and Richard Joel.
It was additionally surprising that Schneider was there at all. After the dual Day One starts, the eventual champion found himself sitting with only 5,500 in chips. Proving that proverbial adage of "a chip and a chair" to be a truism, Schneider battled back to have the chip lead entering the final table and never relinquished it. He allowed the rest of the table to battle amongst themselves, only getting involved when he had the goods. This demonstration of poker prowess allowed the 21-year old (who has been playing in the Indian casinos of Minnesota since he turned 18) to take down the championship of the PartyPoker Million V and the first place prize of $1 million. Congratulations to all the cruisers who participated in the PartyPoker Million V and we can look forward to next year's event and the excitement provided by PartyPoker.com.
Ed note: On the high seas, or in your den...All the action is at Party Poker.