On Saturday, the final six players of a 144-player field played down to a winner in the €3,000 Gioco Digitale World Poker Tour Venice Carnival. The stacked final table resulted in an epic heads-up match between Andrea Dato, who was at his third WPT Venice final table, and young poker superstar Sam Trickett, who signed with Everest Poker earlier this week. The two played a back-and-forth match, but the third time was the charm for Dato, as he emerged victorious to capture the €105,000 first-place prize and etch his name in poker history as a WPT champion.
According to the WPT Live Updates Team, it took more than an hour for the first elimination of the day to occur. It happened in Level 24 (12,000/24,000/4,000) when action folded to Dato and he limped from the small blind. Sotirios Koutoupas, who recently took down the European Poker Tour Deauville after defeating Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov in heads-up play, checked his option from the big and the two players saw a flop of .
Koutoupas called a bet of 26,000, the turned, and Dato bet again, this time 55,000. Koutoupas responded by moving all in for 444,000 and Dato hit the tank before making the call with the for top pair and a flush draw. It was good as Koutoupas was drawing to a straight with the . The river failed to help Koutoupas and he was sent to the rail in sixth place for €19,400.
Not long after, a short-stacked Alessio Isaia moved all in for his last 41,000 under the gun. The field cleared to Trickett, who called from the big blind.
Trickett was ahead, and he locked up the hand when the flop delivered him a full house! Isaia, who had won the WPT Venice back in 2011, watched helplessly as the fell on the turn followed by the river, and then made his way to the payout desk in fifth place to collect €24,000.
In Level 25 (15,000/30,000/5,000), Mario Vojvoda and Trickett saw a similar flop — . Vojvoda bet 10,000, Trickett raised to 140,000, and Vojvoda three-bet to 280,000. Trickett just called and then bet a mere 75,000 when Vojvoda checked the turn. Vojvoda raised all in and Trickett made the call with the for trips, but it was no good as Vojvoda had turned a full house with the . Fortunately for Trickett, the spiked on the river and he scored the elimination. Vojvoda had to settle for fourth place and €31,000.
In Level 26 (20,000/40,000/5,000), Trickett opened from the button and then called an all-in shove from Maurizio Saieva.
Saieva got it in good, but Trickett took the lead when the flop paired his six. Neither the turn nor river helped Saieva, and he was bounced in third place for €42,000, which left Trickett holding a nearly 3-1 lead over Dato when heads-up play began. Even so, it proved anything but a quick affair.
The two battled for four levels and took turns exchanging the chip lead. Eventually, in Level 30 (50,000/100,000/15,000), Dato doubled through Trickett and pulled out to a 10-1 chip lead. Not long after, Trickett moved all in holding the and Dato called with the . Trickett was ahead, but the flop paired Dato. The turn was of no consequence, and neither was the river.
Trickett was eliminated in second place for €66,000 while Dato captured the €105,000 first-place prize and a seat into the WPT World Championship.
It's been a very busy past week or so for the WPT. First, Chris Moorman won the L.A. Poker Classic, and then James Carroll scooped up the title at the Bay 101 Shooting Star. Now with this event in the books, the WPT Rolling Thunder is next in line and kicked off on Saturday at the Thunder Valley Casino in Northern California. PokerNews will be bringing you daily recaps from that event, so please check back for those over the next few days.
*Photos and data courtesy of the WPT Live Blog.