After a marathon three-handed war that lasted about five hours, David Peters has completed what he started by leading after the first two days of 2018 Poker Masters $100,000 Main Event, winning the event for $1,150,000.
Peters triumphed over Bryn Kenney, Koray Aldemir and then Dan Smith heads up to add to his $4.6 million in tournament cashes in 2018. He bookended the Poker Masters series with wins, first in the $10,000 opening event and then in the Main Event to finish things.
However, despite Peters' fantastic start and finish, he fell short of winning player of the series honors and claiming the Poker Masters Purple Jacket. That distinction went to Ali Imsirovic, who locked it up on Day 2 of the Main Event with the elimination of Brandon Adams out of the money at the final table.
The final day of the event began with Peters holding a very slight lead over Smith, while Kenney and Aldemir trailed by some distance as just four of 25 remained. Kenney held on to his short stack for a few hours despite failing to find a double but he'd ultimately fall when he jammed a dominated queen-ten into the queen-jack of Aldemir.
"I think I did a really good job of transitioning," Kenney would say afterward when asked by Maria Ho of Poker Central about adjusting to being short-stacked. "I played really well. That's all I care about anyway."
It seemed a foregone conclusion that Smith and Peters would clash heads up, but it proved to be anything but a certainty. Aldemir found a double winning a flip against Smith and then the three settled into a long grind.
A couple of hours later, Aldemir doubled again through Smith in sick fashion. Holding the nut flush blocker, Smith shoved all in on the river over an Aldemir value-bet after the German made top pair of jacks with a bad kicker. Aldemir found the call button and was suddenly worst to first, while Smith had the shortest stack.
"I just thought he doesn't have it," Aldemir told Ho with a chuckle when she asked him about the big call.
Just after that, Aldemir was one card from a dominating lead. At 20,000/40,000/40,000, Smith opened on the button for a min-raise and Peters ripped in 1.5 million with ace-ten. Aldemir woke up with nines and the race was on, with the nines looking great on a dead flop. Peters picked up outs with a gutshot to Broadway on the turn and he made the straight on the river to surge into first with over 3 million out 5 million in play.
Aldemir nearly secured a valuable ladder worth $300,000 when Smith check-raised all in with second pair and a backdoor straight draw and Peters called with top pair. The runner straight came in, however, and Smith moved back to 2 million.
The German dwindled from there until he lost the last eight big blinds to Smith.
"I have to admit I'm a little bit disappointed," Aldemir said. "I thought I made a couple of mistakes today. I wasn't super happy with my play."
After 175 hands, the match that everyone expected at the start of the final table was a reality. The two players quickly agreed to speed up the structure.
They were nearly even to begin with but Peters got the advantage early when he made top pair in a three-bet pot. He rolled from there against his fellow American, helped by another big hand when he flopped the nut flush with ace-nine. Smith would lose the last of his chips on a bad beat as Peters turned a three-outer with king-seven against ace-seven.
After the match was over, Ho asked Smith about getting to the end of one of the toughest fields in recent memory, 25 players very heavy on the best pros in the world.
"The games are really tough," Smith allowed. "It's quite a challenge."
As for Peters, known as one of the most consistent and active grinders, he admitted it was grueling going from the win to a drought firing off $25K and $50K shells to another win over the course of more than a week.
"It was definitely a long week," he said. "A lot of battles with a lot of great players."