Poker Hall of Famer, Mike Sexton, exchanges the commentary booth for the final table, as he starts the WPT Venice Grand Prix Final Table third in chips.
When it comes to the task of popularizing the game of poker on a global level, the World Poker Tour (WPT) is second to known. Ever since hole camera technology was introduced into the game, the WPT has been the premier poker show the world over. For eleven years the WPT have delivered a superbly polished production, and a key ingredient is the commentary provided by Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten. But when the WPT Venice Grand Prix starts it’s final table, at the grand old house of the Casino Di Venezia, that commentary team is going to be disbanded as Sexton turns from the watcher to the watched.
Poker Hall of Famer, Mike Sexton, has reached the final table of the WPT Venice Grand Prix, the second time he has done so in the past eleven seasons. It’s a case of trading places, as the most popular commentator in the business exchanges roles with the most popular poker player in the business. Sexton hits the felt and Hellmuth hits the booth in what promises to be an intriguing final table.
Day Four started with 18-players and there were so many potential final table stories for the scriptwriters to choose from. There was beauty in the form of Giorgia Tabet and Kara Scott, there was WSOP savvy in Rocco Palumbo and Martin Staszko, there was a European Poker Tour (EPT) champion in Ludovic Lacay, there was a WPT Champions Club member in Matt Salsberg and of course there was Sexton himself. One by one the stories hit the cutting room floor until there was just one remaining, and it was the one the poker world wanted to see. If Mike Sexton wins a WPT event everyone in poker will stand up and give the man a round of applause.
It was a torrid start to Day Four that saw the Kara Scott story never fully unfold. She started the day with a deep enough stack to play some poker, and an attitude full of happiness and smarts. But the margins in these things are thin, and Scott doubled up two short stacks to leave her stack looking like Kate Moss. Robert Begni providing the knockout blow.
If government officials were ever looking for evidence that poker was a game of luck, then they should have been here in all of their full glory. Time after time the worse hand drew the luck it needed from the deck to banish the better hand to the stands. Take Lacay for example. The EPT San Remo champion had a good feeling about this competition. A feeling that was positively effervescent when he got it in with pocket aces against the ace-king of Marcello Montagner. But the Italian showed the world how closely aligned failure and success are. A Broadway straight helping to send Lacay out in 12th and Montagner finished the day with the chip lead.
Mike Sexton took a dominating lead with just 10 players remaining after using all of his table savvy to sniff out the bluff by Erion Islamay. Sexton had proved time and time again, throughout this tournament that he can lay a hand down; a fact recognized by the then chip leader Islamay. On a board of [8d] [6d] [4c] Islamay put Sexton all-in for his tournament life. Sexton called with bottom two pair and took the chip lead after his hand held up. Sexton also eliminated both Martin Staszko and Giorgia Tabet either side of this monumental hand.
The final table bubble period was as tense as you could imagine. Matt Salsberg is no stranger to fame and fortune. The TV Producer, and writer, of the hit TV series Weeds, is also a WPT Champion after winning the Grand Prix de Paris earlier this season. Salsberg has also made two further stateside WPT final tables to put him just behind Paul Volpe in the WPT Player of the Year rankings. Such a shame then that Salsberg should bow out in seventh place, just one place shy of an amazing fourth WPT final table of the season. Once again it was the best hand that lost going into showdown. Salsberg holding a set against the draw of that man Montagner and the draw hit the river to send Salsberg home in despair.
Mike Sexton is not the only WPT Final Table commentator exchanging his mic for a pair of hole cards. Erion Islamay provides the Italian commentary, for the WPT Final Tables, for Poker Italia 24.
Anyone free this afternoon for a spot of commentary?
Final Table Standings
Seat 1 – Xia Lin – 309,000
Seat 2 – Rocco Palumbo – 406,000
Seat 3 – Mike Sexton – 1,079,000
Seat 4 – Erion Islamay – 406,000
Seat 5 – Marcello Montagner – 1,785,000
Seat 6 – Robert Begni – 1,203,000