We have to admit that when the heads-up match started, it seemed that Tom "Kingsofcards" Marchese was a marked man living on borrowed time. He was slumping in his chair and Sam Stein was winning just about every pot. And why shouldn't Stein have won every pot? To many watching the tournament it felt like Stein had won every significant pot for the last three days.
But one thing we noticed about Stein was that he just doesn't like to fold. Marchese used that tendency to his advantage to get maximum value for strong but vulnerable hands during the heads-up portion of the final table. It was Marchese's willingness to put all of his chips in the pot that proved Stein's undoing. Stein tried to make two massive hero calls against Marchese but each time Marchese showed up with the goods.
It was that ability to divine his opponents' tendencies and weaknesses -- and exploit them -- that propelled Marchese to victory. A long, difficult road from "Shuffle up and deal!" on Saturday afternoon to lifting the trophy here tonight made it all worthwhile.
When asked how he intended to celebrate tonight, Marchese gave the true poker degenerate's answer: "I may just head to L.A. to play the L.A. Poker Classic Main Event on Friday."
However you choose to celebrate, Tom, congratulations on your hard-earned victory.
That wraps up our coverage of the 2010 PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour Venetian Main Event, but we're not finished here in Las Vegas just yet. Tomorrow we'll have live updates of the final table of the $25,000 High Roller Bounty Shootout. Join us at 2pm local time to see which of Scott Seiver, Hoyt Corkins, Faraz Jaka, Joe Cassidy, Brett Richey, Peter Eastgate and Ashton Griffin will take down that tournament.
Tom Marchese raised to 500,000 on the button and Sam Stein called. The flop came down and Stein checked. Marchese continued his aggression with a bet of 675,000. Stein made the call.
The turn brought the . Stein checked again and Marchese fired 1.825 million. Stein tanked and then made the call.
The river completed the board with the . Stein checked again and Marchese moved all in, having Stein covered thanks to the last big pot the two played where Marchese doubled to take the chip lead. After five long minutes in the tank, Stein made the call.
Marchese immediately sprung from his seat with his fist in the air as he tabled the for a rivered set of tens. Stein held just a pair of fours with the .
Stein took home $522,306 for his second-place finish while Marchese hoisted the trophy as the 2010 PokerStars.net NAPT Venetian champion!
Whoa. Sam Stein had been in such control of this heads-up match but the tables have very suddenly turned. He and Tom Marchese took a raised flop of . Stein checked and then called a bet of 625,000 from Marchese.
The turn looked like a blank, the . Again Stein checked. Marchese fired a second bullet, and it was a big one -- 1,450,000. Stein called again.
On the river , Stein checked a third time. Marchese opted to put his whole stack on the line. Stein stood up from his chair, eyeballed Marchese's stack, and then said "I call."
Marchese couldn't have felt good about turning over for a pair of kings. But it turned out that was the best hand -- Stein showed for just a pair of fives. With that huge swing, Marchese is now the chip leader in this heads-up match.
After losing the first two pots pre-flop, Sam Stein seemed to find another gear. He's won almost every pot since then, even the smaller, less significant ones. Stein has been in the zone for the last three days and seems ready to take this down. For his part, Marchese's body language indicates that right now he's just trying to hang on.
Sam Stein raised to 450,000 from the button and Tom Marchese called from the big blind. The flop came down and Marchese checked. Stein checked behind.
The turn was the and Marchese bet 325,000. Stein took his time studying the situation and then raised Marchese to 1,050,000. Marchese folded and Stein picked up some more chips. This really has been a one-sided match so far.
If the final two players aren't raising and re-raising before the flop, they're playing very conservatively after the flop. Tom Marchese opened with a raise to 500,000 pre-flop that Sam Stein called. Both players checked the flop and the turn. When the river came , Stein led out for 725,000. Marchese called but couldn't beat Stein's , a pair of fives.
With that pot, Stein's lead grows slightly bigger.