Season II of the World Poker Tour Alpha8 concluded at the same venue where it all began – the Seminole Hard Rock in Florida. The event was small with just a half dozen players ponying up the $100,000 buy-in, but those players were some of the biggest in the game – Dan Colman, Jason Mercier, Jake Schindler, Bryn Kenney, Noah Schwartz, and Byron Kaverman.
It was the tour's first winner-take-all tournament, and after two days of play it would be Schwartz posing for the winner's photo with $585,000 in prize money.
The tournament started players with 100,000 in chips, and offered late registration and reentry through Level 6. According to the WPT, only one player fell within that timeframe, and it happened in Level 5 (500/1,000/100) on Hand #134 when Kenney shoved all in for 12,300 from middle position and Mercier called from the button. The blinds got out of the way and the cards were turned up.
Kenney had kicker issues, and he watched helplessly as the board ran out a dry . Kenney opted not to reenter, which left five players returning to action after the dinner break.
On Hand #193, which took place in Level 8 (1,000/2,000/300), Mercier moved all in for 201,000 holding the and was primed to double against Schindler, who called from the big blind with the . The flop seemed harmless enough, but the running turn and river delivered Schindler a winning straight and sent Mercier, who won the WPT Alpha8 St. Kitts back in December, out the door in fifth.
In Level 9 (1,200/2,400/400) on Hand #211, Schindler opened for 5,400 from the button and then called when Colman moved all in for 40,400. Colman got it in good with the , but Schindler was drawing live with the . The flop was no help to Schindler, but the turn was. The river failed to help Colman, and he was ousted in fourth place.
Kaverman would be the next to go when his failed to overcome the of Schwartz, and that left Schindler and Schwartz to battle it out in heads-up play. The stacks were nearly even, so it proved to be an extended affair; in fact, the duo came back to finish it out on Day 2.
On Hand #321 of the tournament, the blinds were 4,000/8,000/1,000 when Schindler, who had grown short, moved all in for his last 92,000 and Schwartz called.
The flop gave Schwartz the lead with a pair of queens, and he held onto it as the appeared on the turn followed by the on the river. Schindler exited empty handed in second place while Schwartz was awarded $ 585,000, a pair of gold Monster 24K headphones, a Hublot King Power Unico Titanium watch, and the coveted Alpha8 trophy. He also became the first player to hold both WPT and Alpha8 titles.
*Lead photo courtesy of WPT