It was a week of firsts here in Cyprus: the first major international poker tournament; the first time we saw all of the top chip leaders eliminated on Day 2; and the first major international tournament victory for Thomas Bichon.
Bichon was no stranger to tournament poker final tables, having final-tabled two tournaments at the Bellagio Cup this past summer. Bichon finished 4th and 5th in those tournaments, not managing to close the deal for a six-figure payday. He overcame those failures here in Cyprus today.
Uri Keidar also played admirably, chipping up early and then hanging on as the blinds became huge and players fell to the wayside around him. Congratulations to both Keidar and Bichon on a poker achievement that they will both remember for a long time.
That wraps up our coverage of this inaugural WPT Merit Cyprus Classic. We've had a great week here at the Merit Crystal Cove Resort and Casino in Kyrenia, Cyprus, but it's time to move on to our next stop: London, England. We'll be there to provide coverage of the 2009 World Series of Poker Europe.
It took only two hands of heads-up play to determine a champion. On the first hand, Thomas Bichon limped his button and Uri Keidar moved all in. Bichon opted to pass.
On the second hand, Keidar opened from the button for 350,000. This time Bichon was the player who moved all in. After thirty seconds of deliberation, Keidar called.
After six days of poker, it came down to one final flip. Bichon took a commanding lead by flopping a set, . He needed only to dodge a queen on the turn and river to secure the championship. The turn didn't really help Keidar, and he was eliminated by the river.
When the river card fell, Bichon let out a primal scream of "Yeaaaaaaaah!" and then sank to his knees, his arms in the air, as if he had just won the French Open. It was the exclamation point on an excellent week of poker.
We're possibly just a few hands from crowing our champion here at the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic! After a few takes of "Show me the money" from Tournament Director Jack McClelland, the film crew finally got one they liked. With that, two women carrying silver trays entered with more than a half-million dollars and the pair of bracelets that one of these men will soon own.
The loot was placed in the center of the table, and the two men are now on opposite sides of the felt, ready for the final showdown.
With that, the cards are in the air, and heads-up play has begun!
The action folded around to the blinds where Uri Keidar moved all in, putting big blind Rep Porter to the decision for his tournament life. Porter looked down at and confidently announced a call, while Keidar tabled .
Porter is not one to stand up for an all in, and he remained comfortably seated with a slight grin on his face as he prepared for what would be his final board of the day. The dealer spread out to make Keidar the winning pair of nines.
That spells the end of the road for the gregarious Rep Porter after quite an impressive tournament. He was well rewarded for his efforts, too, as he stopped by the cage to pick up $121,115. That marks Porter's fourth-largest career cash, and we have to wonder when how many more six-figure scores it'll take before Porter gives up his day job.