Hadi Khadra Triumphs in Merit Poker Retro Series Warmup
The final day of the 2023 Merit Poker Retro Series $2,200 Warm-Up has come to an end at the Merit Crystal Cove Hotel and Casino and Hadi Khadra is the champion after a deal was made during three-handed play.
Khadra takes the top prize while Turkey's Murat Cakir finishes second and Greece's Orestis Kanakopoulos finishes third. Nicolas Chouity and Huseyin Kaba rounded out the top five after a day that started with the final 25 players.
The tournament drew 809 entries and the final 25 returned for their piece of the $1,488,560 prize pool.
2023 Merit Retro Poker Series $2,200 Warmup
“It feels great honestly,” Khadra said in a post-win interview with Merit Poker. “After four days of endless playing, mental instability, and all these days it feels good to win it. I played well and made very good decisions. I am glad to where I got to where I am now.”
The turning point of the endgame came when Khadra bluffed Cakir with a big river bet.
“In the late stages, a big hand came between myself and Cakir and I bluffed him with king-jack offsuit. It got me a lot of big blinds and gave me the confidence and momentum to get me through it.”
Khadra will go home with the top prize and take a well-deserved break.
“The first thing I’m going to do is not play poker. Go spend time with my girlfriend and my mother. Go on vacation and do everything and relax. Take my head above the clouds for a month or two and get back at it.”
Day 4 Highlights
Day 4 started with 25 players and and Nicolas Chouity came in as the chip leader after Day 3. The live-streamed final table of nine was reached after about six hours of play when Or Nezer hit the rail in tenth place for $19,500.
Afshin Taheri was the first to go in final table play when his suited ace-king was out-flopped by Cakir’s suited queen-nine. The suited ace-king was also trouble for Alain Hajj, who got it all in against the suited ace-eight of Kaba and the pocket threes of Khadra. The board ran out for three hearts and Kaba had the right suit to make a flush for a double, while Khadra’s pocket threes has both players covered and they were good enough to eliminate Hajj in eighth place.
Shortly after Hajj hit the payout window it was Abulmuhsin Aydin that followed with the seventh place finish. Aydin went in with ace-ten on a board with two sevens, but Giorgiy Skhulukhiya had the seven and Aydin couldn’t catch up.
While other players were busting out, Cakir was making his move to the top of the chip counts. He picked up pocket aces and made quads against Chouity, but Chouity had very little with which he could offer value. Kaba also stayed alive when he made his move with pocket jacks against the ace-king of Skhulukhiya. The flop brought a king but the river was a jack to keep Kaba in contention.
Skhulukhiya was next to go in sixth place when he got it in with king-queen against the ace-ten of Cakir. The board ran out with no help and the final five turned towards the home stretch.
Moments later, Kaba bowed out in fifth with jack-ten after Kanakopoulos held him off with king-nine. The final four players battled through a break but the short stack Chouity couldn’t spin it up before he hit the rail in fourth. Chouity’s elimination was another pot for Khadra in a late push that saw him take a big lead.
Moments into three-handed play, Cakir suggested a deal and the players stopped the clock to talk about it. After a short discussion, the tournament ended and Khadra was declared the champion.
Be sure to keep it with the PokerNews team as coverage of the $10,500 High Roller has already kicked off.
Photos courtesy of Merit Poker.
Las Vegas-based PokerNews Live Reporting Executive, originally from Chicago, IL