Bryn Kenney plead passionately for there to be a single-day tournament with a $50,000 re-entry format a couple years ago. His request was ratified and not much later, at the EPT Grand Final in 2015, made a reality.
Up until now, Bryn Kenney only ever min-cashed the event, but that all changed today; he finally made one of the tournaments his own as he took down the top prize of $969,075 at the famous Atlantis Resort at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas.
The irony was that his heads-up opponent in the epic battle was none other than the first winner of the tournament in Monaco back in 2015: Mustapha Kanit.
|1||Bryn Kenney||United States||$969,075|
|3||Byron Kaverman||United States||$452,220|
|4||Daniel Colman||United States||$341,240|
|5||Stephen Chidwick||United Kingsdom||$265,040|
|6||Ben Tollerene||United States||$205,400|
|9||Cary Katz||United States||$96,080|
In total, there were 69 entries, including 20 re-entries. A great number for the tournament, albeit slightly lower than last year’s field of 80 entries.
The action began like it continued, at a frenetic pace, with Hollywood film star and stand-up comedian Kevin Hart busting to Charlie Carrel within the first hour of play. Having used his re-entry early on during the day, Hart would have hoped to have lasted longer than he did. The star of the movie Central Intelligence was shot down a second and final time shortly afterward when Christoph Vogelsang’s pocket jacks held to prevent Hart from getting anywhere near the business end of the tournament.
The high rolling actor was not the only big name to suffer an early exit. Igor Kurganov busted both bullets he fired, and others such as Jason Mercier, Andrey Zaichenko, Vojtech Ruzicka and Ben Heath made their way from the card room without anything like a bubble sweat as well.
"I showed him a bluff where he could've closed the game if he would've called there on the river. Fortunately, he didn't."
With the day progressing, Bill Perkins took a big lead, but he was joined in the upper ranks of the chip counts by players such as Daniel Colman and Kanit as some big stacks began to form. Approaching the money, Connor Drinan was busted by Justin Bonomo before Bonomo himself and Daniel Negreanu both missed out on profit, along with Isaac Haxton, the aforementioned Perkins and Spanish professional Sergio Aido.
The unfortunate ‘Bubble Boy,’ however, was Ukrainian player Oleksii Khoroshenin, who had the unwanted honor of having bubbled the EPT Prague Single-Day High Roller too only three weeks ago!
The final nine players assembled on one table knowing they were all in the money, and with some big names leading the way, anything could happen.
Bryn Kenney was the shortest stack but won some to get a small lead on Cary Katz. Not much later, Katz was the first player to leave the final table party. He was all-in pre-flop and was dominated by his self-proclaimed nemesis in these formats: that very Bryn Kenney.
"You always take me out in these things!" Katz declared and that continued here in the Bahamas.
Daniel Dvoress was next to depart, although play had slowed down considerably since had Katz left. Canadian pro Dvoress was racing for his tournament life with pocket nines, but Sergi Reixach, cheered on by an enthusiastic Spanish rail, spiked an ace on the river and did away Dvoress’ hopes.
With seven players left, the stacks looked like they were leveling a little, but that all changed after a trio of hands between Reixach and Kanit. The first all-in battle went the way of the Spanish player, but Kanit doubled back through his opponent before a third and tumultuous clash. Reixach moved all-in with king-jack but ran into Kanit’s pocket aces and they shot down Spanish hopes, silencing the rail. No back to back for Reixach who won the last impromptu Single-Day High Roller at the last EPT ever in Prague three weeks ago.
Ben Tollerene had enjoyed a golden period just a couple of hours earlier in the day where he was a massive chip leader, but with 30-minute blinds and a field tougher than most even at this buy-in level, no lead was ever safe. Tollerene was heading for the cash desk when he ran shorter than most and got all his chips into the middle when he was dominated by Colman. Not many players win from that position.
With five players left, there was a definite split between the players with the power to push for the win in Kenney, Kanit and Colman and the two players looking to survive and ladder up if possible. Stephen Chidwick reduced the field further when his move with ace-high was doomed by Kenney’s call with ace-king and yet another domination went the way of the player with the better hand. Kenney was building a lead and Kaverman only had six big blinds.
There was a shock exit in fourth place, stack-wise anyway. Colman, for so long one of the most fearsome of the players in the tournament, moved in with ace-high. Kenney woke up with pocket nines, called and held to take a big lead into three-handed play.
Kaverman finally cracked when he lost a flip against Kanit in a crucial spot. Kanit needed to knock out Kaverman to put himself into contention heads up and did so, his pocket sevens holding to eliminate the gutsy American.
"It's nice to win my own tournament!"
With a lead of 2:1 in chips, Kenney began heads up by extending that advantage. But when Kanit drew level then took the lead, it looked like the Italian’s desire to push for the win might be rewarded. Kenney was down but not out. He shoved all-in on the river of a mixed board and got Kanit to lay it down. Kenney asked Kanit if he wanted to see his cards. Kanit obliged, but was audibly dismayed after finding out he had just gotten bluffed. After an hour of heads-up play, Kenney had his starting lead back.
A see-saw battle threatened to conclude on several occasions, but both men fought tooth and nail to get over the line. In the end, Kenney managed to win the final flip of the tournament when his ace-jack suited got the better of Kanit’s red nines. A jack on the flop was all it took to give Kenney $969,075 and the trophy. That left Kanit still smiling like always as he collected his runner-up prize of $695,740.
"I bought in in level 5 and busted pretty quick and had to rebuy actually," Kenney admitted. "Then I ran it up and was last in chips with nine left. I was in ninth position with seven big blinds but I got my rush. Sometimes you just have to wait it out and fortunately good cards came. The right people busted, I got fortunate spots and was able to win it!"
Kenney reminisced about his heads-up match with Kanit and how the chips were constantly changing hands.
"It was a close heads-up match," Kenney said. "First I had a nice lead and then he took the lead. Then I showed him a bluff where he could've closed the game if he would've called there on the river. Fortunately, he didn't. I was gonna muck it if he didn't want to see it. I was gonna make him his own poison. First we chopped with ace-jack versus ace-eight but then I won a flip with most of the chips in. I cashed last year in this event but that was just a min-cash and I broke even. So, it's nice to win my own tournament!"
Photos: Carlos Monti/PokerStars.
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