Jason Koon has won the first-ever PokerStars Championship event after beating Charlie Carrel, heads-up, to win the $1.6m first prize. American comedian and actor Kevin Hart also makes an appearance.
When I think about the World Series of Poker (WSOP), I reflect on my Commodore 16. PokerStars Championships is more Virtual Reality (VR). It’s the branding; the high buy-in events, and the pedigree of the superstars who turn up to compete that sets them apart for me.
The European Poker Tour (EPT) is dead. The PokerStars Championships is the new vogue. Although, nothing has really changed. Lee Jones has called them ‘elite events,’ – they always were – and Neil Johnson is hoping they will have more of a ‘2007 vibe’ because of the influx of Spin & Go qualifiers.
You won’t see too many Spin & Go qualifiers competing in the $100,000 buy-in Super High Roller. But you did get to see the American comedian/actor Kevin Hart. Fortunately, for those lucky enough to play with him, his comedic one-liners were better than that pile of pants Central Intelligence; a movie I watched during the 2016 WSOP.
Here is my favourite courtesy of the PokerStars Blog.
“Ivan Luca raised to 6,000 from middle position and it folded around to Hart on the button who called. The flop came J♣A♠6♦ and Luca checked. Hart eyed his opponent as he fired a bet 17,000, and Luca took a bite from a plastic tub of fruit before calling.
“Uh oh, he’s strong… he’s eating fruit,” Hart said.
Both checked the 2♦ turn, then after the T♦ river Luca checked while continuing to eat. Hart bet 17,000 again, noticing as he did what was on the end of Luca’s fork.
“Hey! This is the most racist thing I’ve ever seen!” Hart said. Luca’s fork, entirely by chance, had stabbed a piece of watermelon.
“Floor!” Hart said. “I’m calling the floor.”
Luca Vivaldi, the tournament supervisor, came over to hear the case. Hart explained that he was facing a bet and that his opponent had eaten a piece of watermelon.
“He’s going to get out some fried chicken next,” Anthony Zinno said, as six players around the table, and Vivaldi, barely suppressed giggles. Luca kept his poker face intact and check-raised to 75,400.
“Hart thought for a while and said, “This is tough…I think it’s a move, but I’m going to go ahead and fold. Good hand.”
“Hart mucked his cards, but turned to Vivaldi. “He still should get a penalty,” he said.”
Hart promised to fire at least 22-bullets in this thing. In the end, he only fired two. It was Dan Colman who eliminated him on Day 2. Hart got it in with A6 vs. Colman’s 33. Hart hit an ace on the flop, but the run out gave Colman a wheel.
It was a great piece of accidental promotion for PokerStars in their first Championship. Sergio Garcia is also in town looking for somewhere to park up his golf clubs for a game or two.
The $100,000 event is the first of six High Rollers – a request made by the players and approved by Johnson. The Day 1 chip leader was the in-form Nick Petrangelo, but his time came to an end after running pocket kings into Connor Drinan’s pocket aces.
There were 54 entries, 41 unique and 13 re-entries. Timothy Adams and Bill Perkins provided the biggest donations; both offloaded $300,000 each. And it was Charlie Carrel who led the final seven with Dan Colman sitting in second place.
Final Table Chips
1. Charlie Carrel – 3,710,000
2. Dan Colman – 2,690,000
3. Jason Koon – 2,305,000
4. Daniel Dvoress – 1,640,000
5. Connor Drinan – 1,455,000
6. Byron Kaverman – 970,000
7. Bryn Kenney – 740,000
Carrel is in scintillating form coming off the back of a trip to Prague that saw him win the World Poker Tour (WPT) €5,500 High Roller and make the final table of the €10,300 EPT High Roller (3rd) and €50,000 Super High Roller (2nd) before bubbling the €25,500 High Roller (9th).
The UK Pro made it to heads-up in this one where he faced another player on a heater – Jason Koon. Koon has picked up the winning bug after many years of being on the periphery of the top three spots. Earlier this year, he won the $5,250 buy-in Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open for a million bucks, and came first and second in back-to-back WPT Five Diamond High Rollers just before Christmas.
After a long drawn out battle, it was Koon who became a Trivial Pursuit answer after winning the first PokerStars Championship trophy. Koon picked up $1.65m; Carrel $1.1m – the first two millionaires of a 2017 that will contain more than at any other time in poker’s history.
Final Table Results
1. Jason Koon – $1,650,300
2. Charlie Carrel – $1,191,900
3. Daniel Colman – $759,660
4. Daniel Dvoress – $576,300
5. Byron Kaverman – $445,320
6. Connor Drinan – $340,540
7. Bryn Kenney – $275,060