Winning a big poker tournament is every poker player's dream. Adding $44,757 in prize money? That's amazing. But then winning a poker tournament that includes winning a trip to Aruba?
Those were the words out of Nick Mann's mouth moments after he defeated Danny Lobato heads up to win the 2014 PPC North America Championship Main Event at Tampa Downs. Not only did Mann take home $44,757 in first-place prize money and the PPC Main Event trophy, he will also be traveling to Aruba later this year to take part in the PPC Aruba World Championship.
"I texted my fiancé once I found out I had won the Aruba package and she's super excited," Mann told PokerNews. He went to add that he would "be able to pay for a wedding" he is going to have next March. The 29-year-old semi-professional poker player who helps run a family web content production firm said, "This is my first real tournament win. I've been playing a lot of tournaments, but have never won one."
Mann was impressed with everything about the PPC, especially the staff and dealers. "This was a fantastic tournament," he said. "The dealers are without a doubt the best in the area." When asked if he would be playing in future PPC events, Mann said "Absolutely, I'll play them all."
Final Table Results
To get to the end, Mann had to outlast a tough field of 420 entrants that converged at the Silks Poker Room at Tampa Downs on Friday and Saturday with 64 players surviving to return on Sunday. Play would move swiftly at the beginning of the day, and the money bubble burst early on when Alec Bradlow and his would send Sunny Moroz and his home empty-handed.
The action was fast and furious — and at times crazy — over the next several hours. Bobby Dugan flopped a straight and an open-ended straight flush draw, but would still end up hitting the rail when Arri Stone's flopped set turned into a full house.
Stone would end up finishing in 12th place for $3,426.
Kelvin Foster would find himself the beneficiary of a crazy hand that saw him start with the worst hand in a three-way all-in pot and come out on top when his would hit a diamond flush to best and .
Like Stone, Foster would come up short of the final table, finishing in 14th place for $2,812.
One of the constants throughout the day was Lobato and his presence at the top of the chip counts. Lobato would surge ahead of the rest of the pack when he won a massive pot against Daniel Zucker to move to 1.7 million in chips. Zucker had check-raised all in on a flop with the and was snap-called by Lobato and his . Lobato would hit the flush on the turn and would avoid the full house outs Zucker had to send Zucker home in 17th place for $2,340.
Matt Schwartz started the day with just 10,500 in chips and would make it all the way to the final 10 before running into some bad luck as his short stack and pocket queens could not fade the of Michael Baize when a king would hit the river.
The cheerful Schwartz left with a smile on his face and $3,426 for his survival skills.
The final table was hectic, with at one point four consecutive double ups occurring within 10 minutes of one another. With five players remaining, a different kind of bubble took place as the top four finishers would receive a $5,000 PPC Aruba World Championship package. It would be Parry Shaw who would be that "bubble boy" when he would lose a race to Mann. It wasn't all bad news for Shaw, however, as his fifth-place finish moved him into first place in the PPC Player of the Year race. The winner of that leader board gets a $5,000 PPC Aruba World Championship package.
Then, Lobato would take out two in one fell swoop when he flopped two pair to crack the aces of Baize and also bust Julio Orhuela, who held a straight draw.
That massive pot would give Lobato a 3-1 chip lead over Mann heading into heads-up play. That lead would change hands quickly when Mann pushed with the and would double up when Lobato called with the and was unable to improve. Then, it was soon all over.
The final hand saw Lobato get his chips in with the lead, but Mann had an open-ended straight draw and two overs that would hit to win the title.
"I'm in shock right now," Mann said immediately after the win. "I won't be able to sleep tonight."
The field that Mann emerged on top of included some tough names over the first four flights. Among them were PPC Team Pro's Alex Outhred and Chris Bolek. Other tough pros and regional poker heroes like Natasha Barbour, Robert Harwell, Rex Clinkscales, Eddie Kofler, John Pappas, Evan Panesis, and Michael Laake would all come up short in their quest.
Thank you for following along our coverage of the 2014 PPC North America Championship Event. Stay tuned to PokerNews for our coverage of the PPC Aruba World Championship in October where featured PPC Pro Joe Serock and others will be basking in the sun and at the poker tables.