Nazari Wins 2009 PCA and Whopping $3 Million Prize

Nazari Wins 2009 PCA and Whopping $3 Million Prize
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By Jennifer Newell The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) was held in the Bahamas at the Atlantis Resort and Casino from January 5th through 10th to the largest crowd in its history. In fact, the 1,347 players made European Poker Tour history for the best attendance of an EPT event. With a $3 million first prize to be awarded at a luxurious beach in the Caribbean at the first major tournament of the new year, the excitement level was high at the 2009 PCA. The first of two starting days brought 660 players to the tables, and the organizers knew that it could be a record-breaking year. Some of the names in the field could be noted by last name only: Negreanu, Raymer, Greenstein, Hachem, McEvoy, Ferguson, Edler, Esfandiari, Zolotow, Filippi, Binger, and Ng. Those who joined them included Gavin Griffin, Vanessa Rousso, Chad Brown, Lee Nelson, Luca Pagano, Jeff Madsen, Gavin Smith, and November Nine members Dennis Phillips, Ylon Schwartz, Darus Suharto, and Scott Montgomery. It was an all-star day in the beginning, but only about 188 survived the eight levels of play, and it ended with Filipe Ramos in the lead. The second starting day made history, as 676 additional players joined the tournament, putting the total at 1,347 and the prize pool at $12,674,000. The final 199 survivors would get a piece of it, with the top three finishers winning over $1 million. Those chasing that $3 million first prize included Carlos Mortensen, Chris Moneymaker, WSOP champion Peter Eastgate, 2008 PCA winner Bertrand Grospellier, Phil Ivey, Humberto Brenes, Isabelle Mercier, Hevad Khan, Gus Hansen, Mark Seif, Nenad Medic, November Nine member Ivan Demidov, Dario Minieri, and sports legends Boris Becker and Orel Hershiser. Less than 200 players made it to the end of the day, and Chris Fernandez sat atop the leaderboard. Day 2 saw nearly 400 players return to the felt, but the eliminations came fast and furious as only 102 remained when the action was stopped for the day. The bubble burst so quickly that reporters, even tournament staff, had to catch up with eliminated players to find out who made the money. And when the day was over, it was David Baker and his 925K at the head of the pack, followed by Christopher Bush and Dan Heimiller. Day 3 wasn’t much different, moving even more quickly than the day before if possible. The goal was to play to a 32-member field, and they did it in just over three levels. After the chips stopped moving, Kevin Saul and Benny Spindler were the big stacks with over 2 million chips each, and Benny Chen was close by with about 1.9 million. The purpose of Day 4 was to play to the final eight, but with so much money at stake and more of a difference between each pay jump, play slowed…tremendously. During the 12 hours that it took, Vicky Coren made her exit in 30th place, Filipe Ramos left in 22nd, last year’s PCA second place finisher Hafiz Khan was out in 21st, David Baker was out in 16th place, and Benny Chen found himself gone in 14th. Kathy Liebert looked strong but seemed to lose her run of cards and was ousted in 12th place with $120K. After Andy Fitzpatrick was sent away in 11th place and Ryan Karp in 10th, there was a significant change in the chip lead when Kevin Saul lost a major hand holding K-Q of diamonds to Alex Gomes’ pocket aces. Gomes then looked solid with the 8 million chips and the lead. But it was Jan Collado Fernandez who gave the rest of the players the ticket to the final table when his pocket jacks ran into the as th of Poorya Nazari. The ace came on the flop as the entire board ran out ad 3h 2s qd 8h, and Fernandez was eliminated in ninth place with $175K. The final table was set for January 10th as follows: Seat 1: Tony Gregg (2,245,000) Seat 2: Alex Gomes (8,080,000) Seat 3: Pieter Tielen (2,510,000) Seat 4: Dan Heimiller (1,440,000) Seat 5: Benny Spindler (3,352,000) Seat 6: Kevin Saul (1,640,000) Seat 7: Dustin Dirksen (765,000) Seat 8: Pooyra Nazari (6,790,000) Action began immediately after the cards were dealt at the final table, when short-stacked Dirksen was able to double through Gomes, then again through Spindler. Dirksen then sat with more than 3.5 million and no longer felt the pressure of being short. Saul was unable to come back from his crushing chip loss the day before and finally put his 1.2 million chips all-in with ks js. Nazari was there to call with pocket queens, and Saul was only able to pick up a jack on the flop. Nothing else came to save him, and Kevin Saul was eliminated in eighth place with $234,000 as a consolation prize. Heimiller found luck earlier when he doubled through Gomes, but the result was a bit different when he tried it again. Heimiller did it with pocket fives, but Gregg pushed all-in with pocket nines, and Nazari called both with pocket eights. The board gave nothing to any of the three players with J-K-J-6-7, and Dan Heimiller was gone in seventh place with $300,000. Dirksen also found himself running out of luck as the tournament progressed, and when Tielen doubled through him, he decided to attempt to get it back through Spindler. It was Spindler who pushed all-in after a Dirksen raise, and Dirksen called all-in with ad kd to Spindler’s pocket tens. The board showed qh jh js 6d 3h, and Dustin Dirksen was suddenly gone in sixth place with $400,000. Tielen then attempted another double-up when he pushed with ac qh, but Spindler was there to call with pocket eights. The dealer gave them th 7c 6d 5s kd, and Petier Tielen was sent to the beach in fifth place with $550,000. The favorite coming into the tournament was Alex Gomes, Team PokerStars Pro and chip leader. But he lost momentum as players doubled through him early, and he finally got involved in a heavy pot that ended up with Gomes all-in after the board showed jd jh js 5s. Gomes showed pocket aces for the full house, but Spindler turned over kc js for quads. Gomes was out in fourth place with $750,000. With a somewhat fast pace set, spectators and reporters expected a quick result to the three-handed match, but they had another think coming. In fact, they had five hours coming before the next elimination. To break it up, there was a double-up for Nazari, Gregg doubling through Nazari and Spindler, and one more double for Gregg after hours of play. Finally, Spindler pushed his shortest stack of just under 5 million chips all-in with qd jh. Nazari called with as jd, and the ks 3s 4s td kd board gave it to Nazari and sent Benny Spindler out in third place with a reasonable $1.1 million prize. Heads-up action began with the following counts: Poorya Nazari 17,685,000 Tony Gregg 9,210,000 Strangely enough, it took only four hands to determine the match. Nazari came on strong and took the first three hands, and that led to the fourth. Gregg started it with a raise, but Nazari made it 3 million to go. Gregg came over the top all-in with qd 7s, but Nazari called with ac td. The board came ts 6c 5c 3s 9d, and the game was over. Tony Gregg was eliminated in second place and took $1.7 million with him. Poorya Nazari won the 2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, along with the sizable trophy and even more sizable $3 million first prize. “I can’t believe it’s happening,” Nazari told PokerStars. “I was fortunate to come out on top. It hasn’t sunk in yet.” (Thanks to PokerStars Blog for detailed tournament information.)