After 112 hands at the final table, and just 10 hands of heads-up play, Chile's own Christopher Franco took down the PokerStars Festival Chile Main Event for $97,360. Franco made his way past 328 players over four days of play at the beautiful Casino Enjoy Viña del Mar in Viña del Mar, Chile to win his first major title.
Franco has had success in live tournament play, with multiple cashes over the last four years, including a win last year in Las Vegas. His tournament win came from a Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza Bounty Event that netted him $11,517. His previous best cash was in 2013, when he finished in 20th place in the Latin America Poker Tour Main Event in Lima, Peru for $4,780.
Saturday's victory surpassed all of his previous results and now puts him into six-figures for his career live earnings. Franco also has impressive online stats where he has amassed $843,979 in online career earnings. His PokerStars handle is 'KhrizPkR23' and his largest cash was for just over $11,400.
The runner-up of the PokerStars Festival Chile Main Event was Colombia's Juan Sebastian Gomez after getting his remaining stack in the middle with ace-seven against the ace-eight of Franco. The board ran out clean and low, sending Gomez to the rail in second place for $61,900. Gomez booked his best cash in this event, adding an impressive milestone to his professional poker career.
PokerStars Festival Chile Main Event Results
|Place||Player Name||Country||Prize (USD)|
|2||Juan Sebastian Gomez||Colombia||$61,900|
|3||Sergio Dario Tello||Argentina||$46,400|
Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez finished on the money bubble on Day 2 after getting his stack in the middle with pocket fives against Andres Vega's pocket jacks. He won't be going home empty-handed though, as he took down the $3,300 High Roller event for $20,360 earlier in the week. Fernandez added to his impressive resume that now includes more than $2 million in lifetime earnings in the live arena.
Final Table Action
The final table of eight began with just five minutes remaining in Level 23. Chile's Diego Lizana was the player who got involved the most early on, and won a big pot against Franco before proceeding to lose three in a row, folding aces along the way. He was eventually the first player to be eliminated in eighth place ($12,200) at the hands of Vega in a double-elimination hand. Oscar Toloso, a recreational player from Argentina, was the other player involved. He had more chips than Lizana and finished in seventh place for $16,600. Vega held pocket tens while his two opponents held the same hand with ace-queen. The board ran out clean and Lizana and Toloso headed for the rail. Vega soared towards the top of the counts and was just a few big blinds behind chip leader Ben.
A short while later, Sergio Dario Tello doubled his short stack through Vega with aces. It was then Gomez's turn to double up after chopping a lucky pot with Franco. Franco also won a big pot from Ben and took over the chip lead, dropping Ben down to the middle of the pack.
In the midst of that action, Rodrigo Zambra was the next to go in sixth place for a payout of $22,600. The Chilean dwindled down to just six big blinds and got it in with jack-high. He was unable to improve against Gomez's ace-high and was sent to the rail.
Next to go was Ben, after he got his remaining 25 big blinds in the middle with ace-king of diamonds, racing against Franco's two black jacks. The board ran out dry, and the two-time LAPT High Roller champion settled for fifth place, pocketing $29,600 for his deep run. In the very next hand, Franco five-bet shoved with two red jacks and Vega called off his stack of 2,100,000 with ace-king offsuit. The board ran out dry for him also, and Vega hit the rail in fourth place for an impressive $37,560.
Three-handed play did not last long, with Tello going out in third place for $46,400. Franco defended his big blind and flopped trips, and was lucky enough to get Tello to shove his stack into the middle with pocket jacks, sending him home and leaving just two players to battle it out. Heads-up play lasted just ten hands, and Franco won with a better ace-high than Gomez to secure the win.
As expected, Chile has turned out to be a popular poker destination for South Americans, but plenty of players from other countries around the world have joined in on the action.
Of the 224 unique entries in the Main Event, Chile made up 133 of these, with Argentina having the second-best showing with 63. Brazil had six entries, and Mexico attracted five. There were 17 players from other countries, including one a piece from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States and Canada.
Some of the notable players who made the money included Martin Pineiro (12th place - $7,400), Tomas Carvallo (15th place - $6,660), Roberto Andres Finkelberg (21st place - $4,660), Joaquin Barcena (23rd place - $4,660), Nicolas Malandre (26th place - $4,160), Richard Dubini (29th place - $3,660), and Javier Swett (35th place - $3,200).
The next PokerStars Festival will be happening from June 19 through the 25 in Marbella, Spain at the beautiful Casino Marbella. More information is available on the PokerStars Live website.
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