Keven Stammen just added his name to the WPT Champions Cup, putting on a dominant final table performance to win $1.35 million, along with the pride associated with winning one of poker's most prestigious events.
Since the poker boom began in 2003, the World Poker Tour has been at the forefront of the tournament circuit scene, spanning the globe while hosting several of the premier events in the poker world. Another successful run is now in the books, as Season XII concluded with the WPT World Championship at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The event boasted a $5 million guarantee with a $15,400 buy-in - reduced from the WPT's previous standard of $25,500 - and the poker world's elite came out to take their shot at the $1.35 million first prize payout. When the two starting flights were wrapped up a total of 328 entries and reentries were recorded, and the roster of players who came to play represented a veritable who's who of the game's greats. In the end though, it was Keven Stammen who took down top honors, weaving his way through a stacked field filled with superstars at every table to claim every last chip in play. And he did so in dramatic fashion, winning a race with an ace on the river to defeat Byron Kaverman, ending a thrilling heads-up match that saw Stammen begin with a big lead before the pair traded jabs and body blows.
Kaverman's runner-up finish added another feather to his WPT résumé, as he set the record for most cashes in a single season with seven - a record he snatched from Stammen (Season XII), along with a collection of the circuit's most consistent performers on the felt. The Borgata also seems to agree with Kaverman, as he made his second final table appearance in as many seasonal opens here at the East Coast's premier poker establishment. Kaverman also made a deep run at the Borgata Winter Poker Open's WPT Main Event championship in January.
The field combined on Day 2 with 199 runners remaining, and after a full day of action on the felt just 68 survivors had chips in the bag. The chip leader at the end of Day 2 was Eric Afriat, and he turned the trick again on Day 3 by topping the counts once more.
Stammen, meanwhile, was riding one of the shortest stacks in the room with just 56,000 when Day 3 began, scoring a tournament-saving (and as it turns out, life-changing) double through George Kelly when his kings in the hole dodged the deck's aces. It was an ace from space that saved Stammen later in the day, as he doubled through Loni Harwood when a bullet hit the board on the river to crack her pocket jacks.
From there, Stammen went on a tear to the final table, building a big stack while busting many of his fellow pros along the way. Those who fell at Stammen's hand during the decisive Day 4 included many of the toughest players left in the field, as he finished Harwood off in 29th place, made Jeff Madsen go away in 19th place, cashed Chris O'Rourke out in 14th place, and booted Bobby Oboodi out the door in 12th place. A huge bluff catch against Tony Dunst also swelled Stammen's stack late during Day 4 action, and while Dunst rebounded quite nicely to reach the final table, the hand provided Stammen with the confidence to rely on his reading ability.
The televised final table was truly a star-studded affair, with the WPT's very own Tony Dunst (3rd) representing the tour and proving that the strategy tips provided in his The Raw Deal segment - in which he pointedly critiques the play of his fellow pros - are backed by true poker bona fides. Ryan D'Angelo (4th) continued his amazing run through the WPT this year, earning his fifth cash of Season XXII and earning the second-largest score of his career. The self-proclaimed "Psycho Ninja" was here, as Curt Kohlberg (5th) brought his inimitable fashion sense and outspoken attitude to the final table stage. Abraham Korotki (6th) continued to dominate the local poker scene, as the 2009 Borgata Poker Open Ladies Event Champion made his second final table of this seasonal series after winning the $2,700 Main Event just over a week ago.
Among stars who fell short during the first two starting flights were Robert "Uncle Krunk" Panitch, Lily Kiletto, Noah Schwartz, and Chris Moorman, Aaron Massey, Jonathan Jaffe, Kara Scott, Anthony Merulla, Amanda Musumeci, Dan Smith, Eugene Katchalov, Scott Clements, Ryan Riess, Mike Matusow, and James Calderaro.
Stammen's incredible run from the fourth shortest stack in the room when Day 3 began to World Champion caps off another successful season for the the WPT, as well as providing a fitting conclusion to the Borgata Spring Poker Open. Stammen pushed his career live earnings to more than $3.5 million, and he has now won two legs of poker's elusive Triple Crown, capturing WSOP and WPT titles to put himself squarely among poker's elite.
Thank you for following along with PokerNews live coverage of the Borgata Spring Poker Open and the WPT World Championship, and be sure to check out the ongoing EPT Grand Final to enjoy more nonstop poker action.