With the tournament poker world getting prepared for the fourth World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio in a couple of weeks, noted professional Victor Ramdin earned his way into that event with his championship in the inaugural Foxwoods Poker Classic on Sunday.
A field of 431 players started off the $10,000 Main Event of the latest stop to be added to the WPT schedule, a slight increase on the 387 runners who took part in the event last year when it was the $5,000 Championship Event of what was then known as the New England Poker Classic. The field had many notable names but it did seem that many bypassed the event so as not to disturb their preparations for the upcoming WPT Championship at the end of April. Among the professionals taking the final opportunity to earn the $25,000 seat to the WPT Championship (a part of the first place prize) were Full Tilt Poker members John Juanda, Erik Seidel and Erick Lindgren, along with other professionals such as 2005 WSOP Seven Card champion Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy, 2005 WPT World Poker Classic champion Nick "The Takeover" Schulman (which he won at Foxwoods in November), Barry Greenstein, Matt Matros and current WPT Player of the Year points leader Gavin Smith.
The early action was controlled by one of the "grinder" professionals that tours the circuit, however. Floridian Greg Monaldi plays many of the preliminary events that make up the package of tournaments during events and he paced the field in the early going, holding the lead after Day One and Day Two. The action was fast paced as well, going from the initial field to twenty two players in a frenetic two days of action. Forty players cashed in the tournament, closer to the tournament norm of 10%, with such professional players as the aforementioned Juanda, Matthew Glantz and "Syracuse" Chris Tsiprailidis walking away from the event with at least their buy-in back in their pockets.
Monaldi wasn't able to sustain his early tournament success when he succumbed to the remaining field in twelfth place on Day Three. Another notable "unknown" professional who plays many of the stops on the East Coast, Khenh "Kenny" Chanthamala, missed out on the final table when he was eliminated in tenth place in the event. With the departure of Spyridon Mitrokostas on the television bubble in seventh, the final table was set.
Edward Jordan came to the final table with a sizeable chip lead over the remaining six players in the Foxwoods Poker Classic; of the over six million chips in play, he held almost half of them at slightly over 2.7 million. Jordan had a very difficult task ahead of him, however, as Full Tilt pro Victor Ramdin was his closest pursuer in second, with Larry Klur, Alex Jacob, John Russell and Bruce Kater filling the remaining seats. What was to come will make for some very exciting poker when this broadcast runs during the current season of the World Poker Tour schedule.
The players weren't afraid to mix it up in the early going, with chips flowing freely around the table. It only took approximately thirty minutes for Victor Ramdin to eliminate the short stack at the table, Bruce Kater, and the action only intensified after that. By "intensify," it didn't mean that the action continued at its fast pace, however. With the top three remaining in the tournament with nearly identical stacks around two million, it might have been expected that there was to be a drawn out battle for the WPT title. This is exactly what happened.
After the elimination of Larry Russell soon after Kater, the players went nearly four hours before the fourth place finisher was determined. Larry Klur's elimination sounded the charge for the rest of the players to wrap up the tournament within an hour, with Jordan leaving only fifteen minutes later, leaving Ramdin and Alex Jacob to compete for the bounty. In under nineteen hands (played very quickly in 45 minutes), Ramdin was able to take command of the event and eliminated Jacob to capture the WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic, with its first place check of over $1.33 million and the all important seat at the WPT Championship.
This was the final stop before that event at the Bellagio, where it is expected that nearly 700 players could come to the felt. With its $25,000 buy-in, it has become one of the most significant tournaments in the world in a short four year span. It also has an illustrious history, with professionals Alan Goehring, Martin DeKnijff and Tuan Le earning the title as WPT Champion. While he may not be able to celebrate too long with his championship, Victor Ramdin will have many reasons to be happy as he heads to Las Vegas as the champion of the first WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic.
Ed Note: Begin your WPT championship run at Noble Poker .