The World Poker Tour's inaugural London stop brought high-stakes fireworks to Mayfair's Palm Beach Casino this weekend. British phenom Jake Cody, reigning European Poker Tour Deauville champ, continued his remarkable year with a WPT victory in the £5,000 Main Event. Then Justin "BoostedJ" Smith secured the £15,000 High-Roller championship after an epic 13-hour final table.
The WPT Main Event, sponsored by PartyPoker, ran opposite a difficult lineup of European tournaments and drew a smaller-than-expected 171 players. The £820,800 prize pool only set aside £273,783 for the winner, but there was much more on the line for one member of the final table. Kristoffer Thorsson qualified for the tournament as part of a global PartyPoker WPT package, making him eligible for a $500,000 bonus if he won the event. An additional $500,000 would have been split among nine other qualifiers had he won. But Cody had something to say about Thorsson's quest for the extra cash.
Cody, Thorsson, and the other six final tablists first had to survive four preliminary days of play. Day 1a began with a presentation honoring Erik Seidel for entering his 100th World Poker Tour main event. Fittingly, Seidel celebrated by ending the day as chip leader, but he was unable to make it through a second day of play. Tournament registration was open until the first level of Day 2. Only five players took advantage of that offer. Four were out before the end of the night, but the fifth, Cody, made the late start work to his advantage.
Italian Giovanni Safina was chip leader at the end of Day 2, a lead he held on to all the way to the final table. Safina has been one of poker's Cinderella stories this year. He won a seat into PartyPoker's elite $100,000 Premier League tournament through an online promotion, then beat some of the game's biggest names to make the Premier League final table and earn a spot on Team PartyPoker.
Safina began the WPT London final table with the lead, followed by Thorsson. Cody started fifth in chips, but he played power poker early, using his middle stack and his lack of fear to three-bet shove his way up a few spots in the counts. Then Cody knocked out fellow Brit Gareth Teatum in eighth place. Less than five minutes later, he busted German Fabian Quoss in seventh to take the chip lead. Professional stock traded Sandiep Khosa couldn't make anything happen and blinded down until he hit the rail in sixth.
Thorsson was far from ready to roll over in the face of Cody's aggression, and took the lead from Cody, knocking him back to the middle of the pack. With five left, Thorsson had double the chips of the other four, who were all relatively even. The PartyPoker accountants held their breath when Cody raised, and Thorsson shoved on him. Cody called all-in with to double through Thorsson's , switching stacks in the process.
Soon after that, Cody took a huge pot from Safina, then finished off the Italian in fifth place. Thorsson was under ten big blinds by the time he got his chips in with against Cody's . The on the turn was enough to continue Cody's streak of eliminations, ending Thorsson's run in fourth place. He missed out on PartyPoker's extra $500,000, leaving instead with a consolation prize of £56,311.
Bruce Atkinson managed to stay out of the heat of the action all day, but the time came for him to take a stand. He moved all in after yet another one of Cody's raises, but Cody snap-called him with . Atkinson's flopped a flush draw, but four diamonds weren't enough to save him from a third-place finish. His elimination left Cody heads up with a sizable chip lead over Nichlas Mattsson.
The heads-up match was a back-and-forth battle until Cody found himself on the right end of cooler. Mattsson four-bet shoved , and Cody called with pocket queens. The board brought no help for Mattsson, sending him home with £176,979 for second place. Cody locked up his second title of 2010, continuing the recent British domination of the international tournament circuit. He celebrated his achievement with a rail full of his well-decorated young countrymen, including Toby Lewis, who won EPT Villamoura only a few days earlier.
After the excitement of the WPT London Main Event, the focus at the Palm Beach Casino switched to the £15,000 High-Roller tournament. Of the 20 players who entered, eight tough competitors made it to the final table. They set a record for the longest WPT final table without an elimination, tangling for eight hours without losing a single player. With only the top three making the money, it was clear the battle was going to last well into the morning.
Freddy Deeb held over 40 percent of the chips in play by the time Jason Lester was eliminated in eighth place. Emeline Boich succumbed minutes later after blinding all the way down to her last two big blinds. Jason Gray was out next, followed by Philipp Gruissem, who had begun the day as chip leader.
Justin "BoostedJ" Smith went on a tear after eliminating Gruissem. He won a big pot from Deeb to take over the chip lead and never looked back. PokerNews' Tony G doubled through Deeb to take over the second spot. The final four went another few hours before Bruno Fitoussi fell to burst the money bubble near 3 a.m. Another hour later, Smith moved all in with , and Deeb called all in with . The flop wasn't enough for Deeb, but the on the turn was exactly what he needed. The turn, however, just made the river even more painful for Deeb, who was sent to bed in third place with £56,400.
After such a long night, Smith made quick work of the heads up match against Tony G. Less than an hour in he secured the title of WPT London High-Roller champion, good for bragging rights and £141,000.
Here are the final table payouts from Mayfair:
1. Jake Cody - £273,783
2. Nichlas Mattsson - £176,979
3. Bruce Atkinson - £93,316
4. Kristoffer Thorson - £56,311
5. Giovanni Safina - £42,322
6. Sandiep Khosa - £34,189
7. Fabian Quoss - £26,144
8. Gareth Teatum - £18,100
1. Justin Smith - £141,000
2. Tony Guoga - £84,600
3. Freddy Deeb - £56,400
If you want to play in the World Poker Tour you can qualify on PartyPoker. Now is a fantastic time to start too, as we currently are running a $7,500 Cash Runner Series and of course have our exclusive Free $50 No Deposit Bonus.