When poker pro Davidi Kitai won the European Poker Tour Berlin Main Event earlier this year, he completed poker's elusive Triple Crown, boasting major wins at the EPT, World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker. However, Kitai's rare accomplishment was greeted with an asterisk of sorts; his victory on the WPT came at the WPT Celebrity Invitational in 2011, leading many pundits to argue that a victory in an invitation-only tournament shouldn't count toward one of poker's most elite achievements.
The debate is still open, but Kitai can officially put an end to it Saturday with a victory at the 2012 World Poker Tour Mazagan Main Event.
Kitai enters the final table with a massive chip lead after a highly productive Day 3 in Mazagan. After entering the day with around 220,000 chips, Kitai went on an incredible run and finished Day 3 with a stack of 1,940,000 — nearly half the chips in play. Amazingly, the Belgian pro only has two WPT cashes in his six-year career, and he's now made the final table in both.
Day 3 of WPT Mazagan began with 25 players looking to stake claim to the $168,207 first-place prize. First, though, they had to play through the money bubble. With the top 18 players getting paid, seven players would leave empty-handed on Friday. Among the early casualties were Eric Botella, Pascal Labiche, Gaelle Baumann, Nicolas Dervaux, Jean Philippe Rohr, and Leonard Truche. Then, on the money bubble, Victor Choupeaux moved all-in preflop for around 16 big blinds from the button and Kitai from the big blind:
The board didn't help Choupeaux and he exited in 19th place, one spot shy of a min-cash worth $7,216. Kitai, meanwhile, was the new chip leader with around 550,000.
The Kitai bulldozer continued rolling as he eliminated David Chekroun (18th place) and Bruno Louy (15th place) to increase his chip lead. But while Kitai trended upward, other notables were sent packing before the final table. According to the WPT Live Updates team, accomplished poker pro Fabrice Soulier exited in 12th place when he moved his short stack all-in and ran into the aces of Frederic Brunet. Soulier shoved for seven big blinds with from the small blind and Brunet peeked down at one card — an ace — and called from the big blind. Brunet then flipped over his other card — another ace — and his pair held up to eliminate Soulier.
A short while later, French rap star Bruno Lopes three-bet shoved for 160,000 with , but original raiser Paul Tedeschi called and had Lopes dominated with pocket jacks. Lopes managed to flop a king, but the case jack on the river shifted the pot back to Tedeschi.
Following Lopes out the door were Sebastien Compte (10th place — $10,359), Charles Harvey (9th place — $14,100) and former WPT champ Guillaume Darcourt (8th place — $18,847). Darcourt was all-in preflop with pocket eights against Bruno Fitoussi's , and a jack on the flop held up through the turn and river to eliminated Darcourt.
That left seven players battling for the six seats at the final table, and Tedeschi wound up as the bubble boy. Moments after Brunet escaped elimination by doubling up with against Jeremy Nock's , Tedeschi was all in with against Clement Beauvois' . The ace-queen held up this time, and Tedeschi came up short in seventh place. He collected $23,559 for his three days of work.
Beauvois was the chip leader after Day 1 and Day 2, and he used those chips well enough to secure a seat at his first WPT final table. He'll be joined by Kitai, Fitoussi, Nock, Brunet and Giacomo Fundaro when play resumes on Saturday.
Here's a look at the chip counts at the final table:
The final table will kick off at 1300 WET (0800 EST) on Saturday. As always, you can find a recap of the day’s action right here at PokerNews.com.
Data and lead photo courtesy of WorldPokerTour.com.
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