Season X of the World Poker Tour continued on Fox Sports Network on Sunday with Part I of the Venice Grand Prix from the Casino di Venezia in Venice, Italy. The €4,950+€495 Main Event, which was held from Feb. 6 to 10, 2012, attracted 155 entrants and created a prize pool of €678,880.
This week’s broadcast started out the same way as any other Part I does — by highlighting the early stages of the tournament. The first thing viewers may have noticed was that hostess Kimberly Lansing was nowhere to be found. That’s because she was away on maternity leave, opening the door for Marianela Pereyra to temporarily assume anchor duties.
The venue for this stop of the WPT, Casino di Venezia, is among the oldest gaming establishments in the world, and to say it is luxurious would be an understatement. Some of the game's best turned out for their shot at €229,800 first-place prize including Melanie Weisner, James Akenhead, Max Pescatori and James Dempsey, who was fresh off a win in the Five Diamond World Poker Classic.
Unfortunately, Dempsey was among the early causalities, as was the reigning WPT Venice Grand Prix Champion Alessio Isaia. That’s about the time the verbose Tony G made his Phil-Hellmuth-like grand entrance, showing up on a boat. The G’s late entrance proved fruitful — he was among the 89 players to survive Day 1, finishing in 15th place with 78,800. However, he was well behind chip leader Filippo Candio's 227,900.
On Day 2, WPT commentator and Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton was in action, though things didn’t go his way after he was all-in preflop with against the of Italian Gianluca Trebbi. The flop was disastrous for Sexton, and neither the turn nor river provided the help he needed. “I lost a race and I’m out,” Sexton said after the hand. “What can you do? It’s a pretty good field, so I’m sure we’re going to have a real good final table. I’m excited about watching it.”
Trebbi was at it again soon after when he called Tony G’s all-in bet with , which was out in front of the G's . The board ran out and Tony G joined Sexton, his fellow PartyPoker Pro, on the rail.
Speaking of PartyPoker Pros, Kara Scott was able to navigate the Day 2 field and finish among the top 27 players, though she was fairly short with 60,100, good enough for 21st place. On the opposite end of the counts, Day 2 chip leader Marcel Bjerkmann, who bagged a healthy 436,300.
On Day 3, nine players went home empty handed, including Scott whose failed to hold up to suited. “That’s it, really? I was kind of excited about, you know, maybe making a WPT final table, but I’ll be back,” Scott told the cameras after her elimination in 27th place. Other pre-money eliminations included Carla Solinas (26th) and Lionel Tran (19th), the latter finishing as the money bubble boy.
From there, Akenhead (14th - €8,540), Bjerkmann (12th - €9,855), Gabriele Lepore (11th - €9,855) and Andrey Gulyy (10th - €9,855) all hit the rail before action came to an end with nine players remaining. Leading the way was Simon Ravnsbaek with 795,000, while American Jason Wheeler was not far behind in fourth place with 699,000.
Just three eliminations needed to occur on Day 4 before the final table was set, and you'd better believe it didn’t take long for that to happen. The first to go was Massimo Mosele, who shoved only to be called by Andrea Dato who was holding . The board ran out and Massimo finished ninth for €18,133. After Jeremie Sochet’s elimination in eighth place (€19,055), only one player needed to hit the rail before the final table was set.
Unfortunately for Wheeler, the lone American remaining in the tournament, he shoved and ran into the of Dato. The board would provide no help and Wheeler finished as the final-table bubble boy for €25,625.
Here’s how things stacked up at the start of the final table:
WPT Venice Grand Prix Final Table
First Hand: With the blinds at 8,000/16,000 with a 2,000 ante, Rinat Bogdanov looked down at and opened for 33,000 from the cutoff. Action folded to Dato in the big blind and he made the call with . The latter checked the flop and then called the 45,000 bet of Bogdanov. Action went check-check on the turn, leading to the river. This time Dato led out for 45,000, but Bogdanov came in for a raise to 90,000. It was the minimum raise, but it was enough to get the job done as Dato released.
Betting Into the Nuts: After the blinds went up, action folded to Dato in the small blind and he opened for 50,000 with , which Ravnsbaek called from the big blind with . The flop gave Dato a royal flush draw and he led out for 55,000, which Ravnsbaek called. The gave Dato the nut flush, and he wasn’t coy about betting it as he slid out 70,000. One couldn’t help but cringe as Ravnsbaek started to put chips together for a raise, eventually making it 186,000 to go. Dato called and then checked the river to set the trapped, though this time Ravnsbaek slowed down with a check. Dato rolled over the nuts and took down the 600,000 pot.
Andrea Carini Eliminated in Sixth Place: After Dato opened for 50,000, Andrea Carini moved all-in from the button for 361,000. The blinds got out of the way and Dato made the call.
Generally the crowd will come alive when a player is all-in, but that wasn't the case in Venice. The crowd was eerily quiet as the board ran out an uneventful , sending Carini home in sixth place for €32,195. The crowd responded with a short round of applause, but it was bittersweet for the Italian.
What a Time for Aces: With the blinds at 12,000/24,000 and a 4,000 ante, Alessandro Longobardi opened for 50,000 from the cutoff with and was called by the of Dato on the button. Ravnsbaek, who had been playing loose, looked down at in the small blind and simply moved all-in for 362,000. Longobardi moved all-in over the top and drove Dato from the pot, but he wasn’t thrilled to discover he was a 4-1 dog.
Once again the crowd was dead quiet as the flop came down . The turn elicited no reaction from the crowd, while the river brought a small round of applause as Ravnsbaek doubled to 818,000.
Another Double for the Dane: Dato opened for 50,000 under the gun with only to have Ravnsbaek three-bet to 127,000. Action folded back around to Dato, who moved all-in for 2,052,000 and Ravnsbaek snap-called off for 814,000. It was the Italian versus the Dane as the dealer burned and put out the flop — . Ravnsbaek hit his queen with the nut-flush redraw, which meant Dato needed the to win the pot. The turn was not it and neither was the river.
With that, Ravnsbaek doubled to 1,682,000, making him the chip leader as the broadcast came to an end.
Tune in Next Week: Part II of the Venice Grand Prix is set to air on Sunday, June 10, on FSN, so be sure to check your local listings. If by chance you miss it, check back next week for the latest recap of all the action right here on PokerNews.
Past WPT Venice Champions
*Titled WPT Venice as opposed to Venice Grand Prix.
*Picture courtesy of World Poker Tour.