The nine survivors at the world series of poker Circuit Main Event at Caesars Atlantic City may not have been household names, but that doesn't mean the field was weak. With one WSOP bracelet winner, the 2008 UltimateBet Aruba Poker Classic champion and more than half a dozen WSOP final tables among them, these nine competitors made up an extremely solid field. After eight hours of final-table play, Canadian Samuel Chartier bested countryman John Nixon heads up to claim the gold championship ring, the WSOP Main Evententry package, and the $322,944 top prize.
While Alex Bolotin took the chip lead into the final table, it was Frank Vizza who stormed out of the gate early to grab the top spot on the leader board and add a couple of notches to his gunbelt along the way. His first victim was David Zeitlin, who busted in ninth place for $20,184. After Vizza raised from the cutoff, Zeitlin moved all in over the top with from the big blind. Vizza snap-called with , and the board ran out to send Zeitlin packing early.
Day 1 chip leader Chris Klodnicki was the next player to make a stand against Vizza's aggression, and again it was a battle of the pocket pairs. After raising with no opposition for several hands in a row, Vizza found an opponent when Klodnicki shoved back into him with pocket jacks. Vizza once again had the goods, and snap-called with pocket kings. The board missed both players, and Vizza's kings held up as Klodnicki picked up $30,276 for eighth place.
After that early flurry of big confrontations, play slowed significantly as the competitors were content to pick their spots. Jason Young picked his spot in a hand against eventual champion Samuel Chartier when he raised preflop with . Chartier was the lone caller, and he then moved all in on the flop. Young quickly called with his overpair, as Chartier showed for overcards and the flush draw. The peeled off right away on the turn, and Young was drawing dead. As the meaningless hit the river, Young headed to the cage to collect his seventh-place money ($40,368).
Matt Brady was eliminated in sixth place ($50,460) by Chartier, but it was Frank Vizza who did the damage. Vizza three-bet John Nixon from the button, and Brady moved all in over the top from the big blind. Nixon decided discretion was the better part of valor, and Vizza made the easy call with . Brady's needed help, but none came on the board. After doubling up Vizza, Brady's stack was on life support. Just a couple of hands later, Chartier pulled the plug when he called Brady's all-in with . Brady's looked good on the flop, but the turn gave Chartier more outs to work with. The prescient Brady said, "You got the spade," as he looked at Chartier's hand, and as if called for, the landed on the river to give Chartier the four-flush and show Brady the exit.
Alex Bolotin came into the final table as the big stack, but never really got his game on track in the final day of the event. In his last hand, he open-shoved with , and big stack Frank Vizza was the lone caller, showing . Bolotin fell further behind on the flop. He picked up a pair on the turn when the fell, giving him a few outs to work with. The river wasn't one of them, and Bolotin was done in fifth place ($60,552).
Michael Michnik exited in fourth ($70,644) in a rough hand against Samuel Chartier. After raising preflop with , Michnik moved all in over the top of Chartier's three-bet. Chartier quickly called, and showed for the same hand. Chartier was free rolling after the flop, and the turn put Michnik in danger of elimination. As the landed on the river to give Chartier the flush, Michnik could only look on in disgust, then shake his opponents' hands as he headed to the exit.
There was no elimination in the biggest pot of the night, but it set the stage for the eventual winner of the gold ring. With blinds at 16,000/32,000 and a 4,000 ante, Frank Vizza raised preflop to 100,000. Samuel Chartier re-raised to 246,000, and Vizza called. The flop came down , and Chartier led out for 200,000. Vizza sat for a moment before raising to 700,000. After a couple minutes' consideration, Chartier moved all in over the top. This prompted Vizza to go deep in the tank, contemplating every possible outcome of the hand. Finally after more than five minutes in thought, Vizza folded, giving up his chip lead to Chartier just before the dinner break.
Things went no better for Vizza after dinner, as he quickly doubled up John Nixon on the second hand back from break. With just a fraction of his former stack, Vizza then called a preflop raise from John Nixon a few hands later to put his tournament life on the line. Vizza held a slight lead on the flop, as his led Nixon's on the board. The on the turn gave Nixon more outs, and the on the river gave him the pair to send Vizza to the rail in third place ($90,828).
After their collective decimation of Frank Vizza's stack, Samuel Chartier and John Nixon settled in for heads-up play with Chartier holding the chip lead. It only took a few hands to decide the title, with Nixon unable to overcome Chartier's lead. In the final hand, Nixon raised preflop from the button, then moved all in over the top of Chartier's re-raise. Chartier quickly called and showed , dominating Nixon's . Chartier took a commanding lead on the flop, making two pair to Nixon's one. The on the turn gave additional outs to chop, but the on the river was no help for Nixon, who earned $177,619 for his runner-up performance.
Samuel Chartier bested a field of 207 opponents to claim his $322,944 top prize, plus an entry into the WSOP Main Event and the gold Circuit Championship ring. He bested a field that included some of the biggest names in poker , and prevailed over a tough final table to do it.