PartyPoker Premier League, Day 6: Kravchenko, Luske Secure Grand Final Seats
The final two preliminary heats of the 2008 PartyPoker Premier League kicked off on Friday, with some players vying for extra chips at the Grand Final match while others hung on for a chance at the playoffs. Tony G and Andy Black started the day separated by just a single point atop the league standings, while 2007 champion Juha Helppi was looking for a win to get into the playoffs. The top four players on the points list at the end of Day 6 won their way straight into the Grand Final, while the next four finishers were left to prepare to face off in heads-up matches for the final two spots. The bottom four finishers at the end of Day 6 were eliminated.
Heat #11 kicked off with Marcel Luske, Ian Frazer, Annie Duke, Vicky Coren, Alex Kravchenko and Eddy Scharf all clustered fairly close together in points. Ian Frazer started with the lowest point total of the six, and he played his way out of the playoffs when he busted on the first hand of his heat. Annie Duke raised preflop with , and Marcel Luske re-raised on the button with . Frazer moved all in from the big blind with . After some debate back and forth, Luske made the call and tabled his kings. The flop came down , giving Frazer a flush draw, but the turn brought no help. The river doubled Luske up on the very first hand, and sent Frazer home, out of the playoffs. Frazer's elimination also meant that Phil Hellmuth, who played in Heat #12, was playing for nothing, as his only hope to make the playoffs was to win his heat and have Vicky Coren pick up zero points.
Duke was next to fall when she got involved in a big hand with Kravchenko. Duke re-raised Kravchenko preflop with , and Kravchenko made the call with . The flop came down , and Duke moved all in. Kravchenko called with his top pair, and Duke was left with bottom pair and a flush draw. The on the turn didn't help Duke, and the on the river sent her to the rail in fifth place where she was guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
Eddy Scharf also ended up in the playoffs shortly after Duke's elimination, when he limped in from the small blind with . Kravchenko checked his option with . The flop came down , and Kravchenko led out. Scharf raised, and Kravchenko immediately moved all in over the top. Scharf went into the tank before making the call, and the turn and river came down , sending Scharf off in fourth. Vicky Coren busted in third, and was left to watch the outcome of Heat #12 to determine her fate. She moved all in from the button with , and ran into Kravchenko's . No ace showed on the board for Coren, and she picked up three league points to put her in eighth place after Heat #11. Coren's fate depended on the finishes of Juha Helppi and Dave Ulliott, both of whom could eliminate her with a win in Heat #12.
Kravchenko and Marcel Luske squared off for a brief heads-up match before Kravchenko put away his opponent and locked up his spot at the Grand Final. Luske completed with , and Kravchenko checked with . The flop came down and brought a bet from Luske. Kravchenko raised, and Luske made the call to see the turn. Luske checked, Kravchenko led out, and Luske moved all in over the top. Kravchenko called immediately, and the river secured his victory and a spot in the finals. Luske finished the heat in fourth place in points, but would have to wait for Heat #12 to finish to find out if he had to play in the playoffs or had locked up a seat in the Grand Final.
Heat #12 kicked off with Tony G and Andy Black playing for bonus chips in the Grand Final, as they had already secured their seats. Phil Hellmuth was playing for nothing but pride, as he was eliminated from the playoffs by events in Heat #11, and Roland de Wolfe was playing for one point to knock Luske into the playoffs and take his guaranteed seat at the final table. Juha Helppi and Dave Ulliott could secure a place in the playoffs with a win in this heat, at the expense of Vicky Coren.
After an extraordinarily tight opening period, de Wolfe was the first elimination, calling Phil Hellmuth's all-in with . Hellmuth tabled and picked up a backdoor flush draw on the flop. The turn further improved Hellmuth's hand, and the river gave him a flush and relegated de Wolfe to the playoffs.
Andy Black went to the rail next when he pushed all in from the cutoff with , and Dave Ulliott called with . The board brought , and Ulliott made jacks full to eliminate Black. Black's elimination also guaranteed Tony G the biggest starting stack at the Grand Final.
Juha Helppi started Day 6 needing a win and nothing less to stay alive in the competition, and his tournament ended when he called Ulliott's all-in with . Ulliott tabled , and the board ran out , sending Helppi to the rail for the last time. Hellmuth joined him a few hands later when he called off the rest of his short stack with against Ulliott's . Hellmuth still led after the flop, but the on the turn left him drawing to three kings. The river sent Hellmuth home in third place, with no hope of making the playoffs.
Ulliott got heads-up with tournament points leader Tony G for his playoff life, as a win for the Devilfish would put him in the playoffs. It only took a few hands to decide the victor, as Tony G completed with , and Ulliott checked . Both players checked the flop, and Ulliott moved all in on the turn. Tony G made the call and was drawing dead to Ulliott's flush. The irrelevant river card was the , as Ulliott picked up the win to make his way into the playoffs and eliminate Vicky Coren from contention.
At the end of the preliminary heats, Tony G, Black, Kravchenko and Luske locked up the four reserved seats at the Grand Final, while de Wolfe, Scharf, Duke and Ulliott were cast into the playoffs for the remaining two seats. Here are the final standings with the preliminary rounds complete:
Tony G: 38 pts.
Andy Black: 33 pts.
Alex Kravchenko: 26 pts.
Marcel Luske: 21 pts.
Roland de Wolfe: 20 pts.
Annie Duke: 19 pts.
David Ulliott: 19 pts.
Eddy Scharf: 19 pts.
Vicky Coren: 17 pts.
Juha Helppi: 11 pts.
Ian Frazer: 9 pts.
Phil Hellmuth: 8 pts.