Juha Helppi took top honors at Party Poker's first Premier League event filmed last week at Maidstone Studios in Kent, UK. Prior to winning the event, Helppi had grossed almost $1.5 million in tournament play; including a WPT victory and numerous WSOP final table appearances. Even though it was Helppi's 30th birthday, his victory was no easy gift, necessitating he go up against eleven of some of the toughest international players on the tournament circuit.
For its first Premier League broadcast, PartyPoker invited twelve stellar players; ten time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, Dave 'The Devilfish' Ulliott, Tony G, Andy Black, Kiril Gerasimov, Liz Lieu, Ian Fraser, Roland De Wolfe, Vicky Coren, Juha Helppi, Kenna James and Eddy Scharf. The players competed six times in preliminary events in an effort to secure four of the six final table spots. Phil Hellmuth, Eddy Scharf, Juha Helppi and Ian Fraser prevailed to lock up their final table appearances. The next four players had to battle it out heads-up to try and score the remaining two spots. In the heads-up battles, the women prevailed; EPT London champ Vicky Coren took down Andy Black while Poker Diva Liz Lieu bested Kenna James.
The starting chip counts for the final table were based on a multiple of player points scored during the preliminary events. Phil Hellmuth started the final table as chip leader with 350K and Vicky Coren was the relative short stack with 200,000. But the structure definitely gave them some play as the first bustout, Ian Fraser, occurred almost five hours into final table play.
Phil Hellmuth lost his chip advantage early and never seemed to find his groove; finishing in 3rd place. When Juha Helppi and Eddy Scharf started heads-up, Helppi held a 4-to-1 chip advantage and was able to secure his title within 10 minutes of play.
PartyPoker's Premier League offers a solid international line-up with a lot of play and interaction through preliminary qualifiers and final table structure. And while the televised poker space is hardly sparse, the Premier League's unique features may help it stand the test of time.