Lee Davy breaks down his personal top five poker tournament moments of 2014, including action from the World Poker Tour events in Cyprus, the UK, and a very special hand from Chris Moorman.
Christmas is a tough gig for a poker writer. Interesting stories become lost beneath the snow and ice as poker’s finest exchange fish for turkey. All that is left is to recap what went before. My job today is to bring you the defining moments of the 2014 poker tournament calendar, but given the fact that my Google Alert has already prompted me to read two of these things this morning I will have to deliver something a little different.
Here are my own personal top poker tournament moments of 2014. And by personal I mean I was standing there when it happened.
1# Nicolas Chouity Eliminated in 3rd Place – WPT Merit Cyprus Classic
When the action was reduced to three-handed play, there was only going to be one winner. Alexander Lakhov seemed more interested in watching Dmitry Gromov and Nicolas Chouity battle it out, and Gromov was too interested in nipping off behind the final table set so he could have a quick tweak on his cigarette. I would like to say that Chouity was the only one concentrating on the game, but that would be a lie.
“What’s the time?” He kept asking me.
Chouity was going to miss his plane, but securing a first prize of $325,400, and becoming a member of the WPT Champions Club was likely to soften the blow.
Chouity started the unofficial final table as the Daddy. He had all of the chips and more moves that John Travolta. As we entered three-handed play the Ed Hardy hooded Gromov had just about caught him up with Lakhov trailing in third.
With blinds at 50,000/100,000, A15,000, Chouity min-raised the button, Dmitry Gromov three-bet to 550,000 from the small blind, Lakhov folded in the big blind, and Chouity made the call.
The flop was [Kh] [9h] [5s], Gromov bet 620,000, and Chouity made the quick call. The turn card was the [3s] – putting two flush draws on the board. Gromov checked, Chouity bet 950,000, Gromov moved all-in for his tournament life, and Chouity called quicker than a million dollar jackpot bingo winner.
I stretched my neck out as far as I could without invading the live stream camera. I could see that Chouity was hopping around like an excitable bunny. He laid [Ks] [Qs] onto the felt, and the pair of deuces that lay below the grim looking Gromov brought about his excitement.
The Russian had been caught with his fingers in the cookie jar and only one card in the deck would save them from being severed at the knuckle. He needed the [2d] and the dealer delivered. Chouity ripped his cap from his head and slammed it onto the floor.
“He had one out! He had one out!” Cried Chouity.
The stacks were counted and Chouity’s tournament had ended. On the plus side, he wasn’t going to miss his flight, but I wasn’t sure how to tell him.
2# Alexander Lakhov Doubles Through Dmitry Gromov – WPT Merit Cyprus Classic
They say what comes around goes around.
Gromov’s elimination of Chouity created a very lopsided heads-up encounter between the two Russians. Gromov had all of the chips, and was looking odds-on to become a two-time WPT Champion, and Lakhov was hoping for a miracle to become a WPT National and Main Event Champion in the same location, in the same season.
With blinds at 50,000/100,000 A15,000 Gromov opened to 250,000, Lakhov moved all-in for 3,535,000, and Gromov nearly bit his hand off. When the cards were overturned it was easy to see why. Lakhov’s [As] [Js] was completely dominated by the [Ad] [Ac] of the cigarette smoking Gromov.
Poker writers love moments like these. The finishing line is in site. No more hands to write. It’s time to shut down that laptop, get paid, and fuck off home. All I needed was for the deck to do its job and deliver the winning hand to the man holding the 86% advantage.
The flop was [Jh] [9c] [7s] – handing Lakhov a little bit of light. The turn card was the [Kd] and Gromov was one card away from becoming the champion. He was a 95% favorite to win the lot when the dealer pushed the [Jd] onto its back and pissed everyone off except for the man called Lakhov.
Gromov never recovered from that set back, and Lakhov went on to win his first WPT Main Event title.
3# Tamer Kamel Causes Carnage in the WPT UK Main Event
“Who’s the guy with the Mickey Mouse hat?”
That’s how I got to know Tamer Kamel for the first time. I was working at the WPT UK Main Event in Nottingham, and Kamel could barely be seen behind a stack of chips of Dirk Diggler sized proportions. The only clue to his presence was the sight of Mickey’s ears on his black beanie.
This happens in every event I attend. A player sitting behind an average looking stack sprinkles a bit of Paul Daniels fairy dust around the place and hey presto they have most of the chips in the room, only this one was bigger than most.
With blinds at 2,000/4,000 A500 Kamel opened to 10,000, Sukatu Patel flatted, before the EPT Grand Final winner, Antonio Buonanno three-bet to 35,000 from the big blind – both players called.
The flop was [7d] [6s] [5h] Buonanno bet 35,000, and both players called. The turn card was the [Ah], Buonanno bet 100,000, Kamel called, Patel moved all-in for 280,000, Buonanno called and Kamel took a sip of his tea before moving all-in for a smidgen over 400,000, and the Italian made the call.
When the hands were turned over Kamel was holding the stone cold nuts with [9d] [8d], Buonanno held [As] [Kh] for top pair, and Patel held [Tc] [9c] for the gutter. The [Ts] completed the action, Patel was eliminated, Buonanno was left with 240,000 and Kamel had 1.3m.
Kamel was still stacking his chips when the dealer dealt the next hand. Ben Winsor open jammed for 80,500, Kamel took a break from stacking his chips, checked his hand before calling, and Buonanno called in the small blind. The flop was a spade monotone Q72, Buonanno moved all-in and Kamel called. Winsor held pocket treys, Buonanno held pocket tens, and Kamel had them both dominated with pocket kings. The turn, and river bricked, Buonanno and Winsor were dispatched to the stands, and Kamel was left with 1.7m chips – or 425 big blinds!
He would go on to finish third for $144,131.
4# Dan Colman Winning WPT Alpha8 in London
This moment makes my top five because I was fortunate enough to see one of the greatest players of our modern generation, capturing a major title, during a run the likes of which the poker world had never before seen.
“Let’s get this out of the way, “ I said to Colman when I met him for the first time. “Are you going to let me interview you this week?”
“I would rather not.” He said.
The response was so polite I decided not to beg.
You don’t have to interview him anyway. The young man, who behaved like a mute in front of the ESPN cameras, doesn’t shut up at the table. He has an opinion on everything, he volleys them over the net in a controlled manner, and he’s not afraid to hold a debate. He is also pretty spectacular at playing poker. It was great to see him making moves. I got the impression that I was in the right place at the right time. The Palm Beach card room was tiny, and there were only two tables, which meant no move went unnoticed.
In the end it became a bit of a breeze for Colman. I thought he would win it, very early on, as I believe he did. It also became apparent that titles mean very little to Colman as he agreed to skip several blind levels, when heads-up, just so him and Max Altergott could get it over and done with.
Colman won $957,390 in that tournament and finished the year with $22,389,481 in cashes, the highest in the history of the game.
5# Chris Moorman wins a Caribbean Cruise
If you need proof of the power of positive thinking then please read on.
It was during the WPT UK Main Event in Dusk till Dawn (DTD) that the top dogs within the WPT decided to roll out their Royal Caribbean cruise promotion. Essentially, if a player was to win a hand with a Royal Flush – with two of the cards being in the hand of the player – then they would win a Royal Caribbean cruise for two.
I was told that should this happen, I would have to interview the lucky winner, and post it onto the blog. There were 354 entries in that tournament. Everything from factory workers, electricians, bin men and dog walkers.
Chris Moorman was also in the tournament. I know this because Simon Trumper told everyone on the microphone. He introduced him as the most successful online tournament player of all-time with over $11m in winnings, and a WPT Champion with over $4m in live tournament earnings. He had also just finished writing his first book and was busily signing copies for his adoring fans.
Then I got the word.
The cruise had been won.
Some lucky bar steward had flopped a Royal Flush.
Who could it be? A bin man? An electrician? A toilet attendant?
It was Chris Moorman.
“And I didn’t even get paid.” Complained Moorman as I thrust my Dictaphone into his face.