The Kid is Alright: Randal Flowers Wins His Second WPT Title
Level 30: 80,000-160,000, 15,000 ante
For most 22 year-olds, the highlight of their young lives is graduating from college or moving into your first apartment by yourself. For Randal Flowers, the marquee moments of his life so far are not graduations, first jobs, or other standard milestones. The online poker pro from Greenville, North Carolina can instead hold up not one, but two prestigious records that will likely hold up for the foreseeable future.
Prior to the start of the final table, Flowers already held the record for youngest WPT winner in the tour’s nine-season history. At just 20 years-old, Flowers took down the WPT Barcelona event, besting Nick Schulman for the age record and setting a tough benchmark for future poker whiz kids to best.
Now, if an online poker wunderkind wants to one-up Flowers, they are going to have to pick up not one, but two titles and do it in short order. Flowers, better known to his friends and fellow online poker players as RandALLin, picked up title number two at Festa on Wednesday, putting him in the company of players like Cornel Cimpan, Daniel Negreanu, Erick Lindgren, Freddy Deeb, Michael Mizrachi, and Jonathan Little.
When the final table began, Flowers held a tiny chip lead, but it didn’t take too long for Flowers’ stack to start growing. It was Michael Benvenuti who dispatched with Skip Wilson in 6th place when Wilson ran top pair into Benvenuti’s overpair of queens, but from that point forward, it was Flowers in the driver’s seat.
Flowers eliminated all of his final four opponents. First, he took on Legends of Poker winner Andy Frankenberger in fifth place when Frankenberger shoved with pocket fives and Flowers called him with pocket tens. While Frankenberger exited earlier than he would have liked, his fifth place finish gives him a nice lead early in the WPT Season IX Player of the Year race.
Following Frankenberger’s fall, Flowers faced off with Jason Koon in a massive cooler of a pot. Both players rivered straights and got it all-in. Unfortunately for Koon, his nine-high straight couldn’t best Flowers’ jack-high straight, so Koon was out in fourth.
Those two knockouts gave Flowers a massive chip lead, so much so, that doubling up Noah Schwartz during three-handed play only put a tiny dent in Flowers’ pile. Flowers seemed so worse for the wear either, turning around and eliminating Schwartz just a few hands later with AQ to Schwartz’s KQ.
That left just Benvenuti standing in the way of Flowers and his second title. Flowers held a substantial chip lead at the outset of heads-up play, Benvenuti’s stack was getting short, so it was no wonder that it took a little over a dozen hands before they got it all-in on a flop of 965 flop with Benvenuti holding a big draw with Q7. Flowers showed top pair with 39 and, after the turn and river came 4 then A, Flowers officially became the youngest two-time WPT winner ever.
Here are the final table results from the Season IX Festa al Lago Main Event:
1st: Randal Flowers - $831,500
2nd: Michael Benvenuti - $564,200
3rd: Noah Schwartz - $344,968
4th: Jason Koon - $225,680
5th: Andy Frankenberger - $161,200
6th: Skip Wilson- $112,840
Featured Blog, Randal Flowers, Michael Benvenuti, Noah Schwartz, Skip Wilson, Andy Frankenberger, Jason Koon, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX
01:35 PM, 10/21/10
Hand #25: Skip Wilson Eliminated in 6th Place ($112,840)
Level 28: 50,000-100,000, 10,000 ante
Micahel Benvenuti raises under the gun to 220,000, and Noah Schwartz accidentally reveals 10-6 when he folds from the cutoff. Skip Wilson calls from the big blind. The flop comes 1065, and there is a reaction, as Schwartz would have flopped two pair.
Featured Blog, Skip Wilson, Michael Benvenuti, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX
Wilson moves all in, and Benvenuti says, "I don't think I can fold this one. Do you have aces?" Benvenuti asks for an exact count, and asks, "Did you flat with aces?"
The all-in amount is 1,010,000, and Benvenuti calls with QQ. Wilson shows Q10, and he'll need to catch another ten or running hearts to stay alive.
The turn is the J, and Wilson picks up a flush draw, giving him 11 outs to survive.
The river is the 2, and Michael Benvenuti wins the pot with his pocket queens. Skip Wilson is eliminated in sixth place, earning $112,840.
Seat 1. Skip Wilson - Out in 6th Place ($112,840)
Seat 2. Michael Benvenuti - 2,960,000
Seat 3. Jason Koon - 2,630,000
Seat 4. Noah Schwartz - 3,125,000
Seat 5. Randal Flowers - 3,025,000
Seat 6. Andy Frankenberger - 1,690,000
05:37 PM, 10/20/10
Photo Recap: Day 5 of WPT Festa al Lago
Level 27: 40,000-80,000, 10,000 ante
By BJ Nemeth
Featured Blog, Annette Obrestad, John Monnette, Jeff Madsen, John Krpan, Bobby Suer, Allen Kessler, Brandon Steven, Andy Frankenberger, Randal Flowers, Noah Schwartz, Skip Wilson, Michael Benvenuti, Craig Lumpp, Kimberly Lansing, Mike Sexton, Tony Dunst, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX
The playdown day for WPT Festa al Lago was a crazy one, as the chipleaders crashed early and the short stacks made comebacks -- over and over again. It was a day when short stacks always seemed to find a way to double up, even if they were dominated preflop. Read the photo captions for more details.
It took a little more than 12 hours to play down from 13 players to six, but the televised WPT final table is set:
Seat 1. Skip Wilson - 1,200,000 (15 bb)
Seat 2. Michael Benvenuti - 1,390,000 (17 bb)
Seat 3. Jason Koon - 2,555,000 (31 bb)
Seat 4. Noah Schwartz - 3,135,000 (39 bb)
Seat 5. Randal Flowers - 3,215,000 (40 bb)
Seat 6. Andy Frankenberger - 1,935,000 (24 bb)
And the prizepool they'll be playing for:
1st - $831,500 (includes $25,500 seat into WPT World Championship)
2nd - $564,200
3rd - $344,968
4th - $225,680
5th - $161,200
6th - $112,840
And now, a photographic look back at Day 5 of the WPT Festa al Lago at Bellagio:
Last night, Jeff Madsen grabbed some late-night Chinese food, and found this in his fortune cookie: "Your hard work is about to pay off." Madsen hoped it was a sign of making his first televised WPT final table.
Shortly before Day 5 began, Jeff Madsen (left) and Andy Frankenberger rebuild their chip stacks from the night before.
Annette Obrestad (top left) seems like an innocent young woman, but she commands a powerful presence at the poker table, especially when she has chips. Obrestad began the day as the only player with more than 2 million in chips. Before play began, the other players were jokingly asking her to be merciful.
Day 5 started horribly for Annette Obrestad, as Skip Wilson doubled through her twice in the first hour. In the first hand, they were all in after the flop, Obrestad's overpaid against Wilson's flush draw -- and Wilson turned his flush. Wilson was relatively short-stacked, so Obrestad survived in good shape. But half an hour later, Wilson was all in with QQ against Obrestad's AK -- and you can see the board in this photo. Wilson cheered when he turned a set of queens, but it actually favored Obrestad, who picked up a gutshot straight draw and a flush draw to go with her two overcards. But it wasn't Obrestad's day, and she missed all her outs and was knocked down to just 16 big blinds. Skip Wilson, who started the day in 13th place, was now the chipleader.
Talk about a reversal of fortune -- in less than an hour, Annette Obrestad and Skip Wilson swapped chip stacks and positions on the leaderboard. Obrestad's boyfriend, Scott Montgomery, watches the carnage from the background.
Jeff Madsen (top left) also had a horrible start to Day 5. Madsen started the day in third place on the leaderboard, but he doubled up Michael Benvenuti before losing this race (AQ vs. JJ) to John Monnette (foreground, right). Like Annette Obrestad, Madsen was knocked down to just 16 big blinds, and he had a lot of hard work ahead of him to make his fortune cookie come true.
Now short-stacked, Annette Obrestad moves all in, and Brandon Steven (not pictured) asks if she's looking for a call. Annette says she'll take whatever comes, because she needs chips. Steven eventually folded, and Obrestad showed K6. Obrestad assured him it wasn't a bluff, saying, "Honestly, I'd have taken a call."
Jeff Madsen (background, right) starts work on his comeback, doubling through Andy Frankenberger (center) with KQ against AJ. Madsen caught a queen on the turn and a king on the river to win the pot.
Annette Obrestad moves all in preflop with Q10, but she's dominated by Brandon Steven's A10. Obrestad calls over her friend WPT Anchor Kimberly Lansing (standing, right) to hold her hand for good luck as the board comes out, but it didn't work -- Steven won the pot with ace high, and Annette Obrestad was eliminated in 13th place.
Brandon Steven stacks his chips after eliminating Annette Obrestad in 13th place. Steven was the high-profile 10th-place finisher in this year's WSOP Main Event, just missing a coveted spot in the November Nine. Steven was hoping to redeem himself by making this televised WPT Final Table.
Short stack John Krpan (right) doubled up with AK against the AQ of Randal Flowers (center) with 11 players remaining. (John Monnette was eliminated in 12th place.)
Noah Schwartz (left) reraises Jason Koon after a flop of 10106 with 11 players remaining.
Michael Benvenuti (center) plays a hand against Noah Schwartz (right) during hand-for-hand play with 11 players remaining.
Jeff Madsen (top left) is stunned after he is eliminated in 11th place. Madsen was all in preflop for 15 big blinds with AQ, and he dominated the A5 of Jason Koon (foreground). The flop was a good one for Madsen, but the final board of 8739J gave Koon a spade flush to win the pot. Madsen was motionless for more than 10 seconds as he watched a WPT final table slip out of his reach.
Day 5 took place in Bellagio's poker room, in the high-limit section. While the final 10 players resumed play at a single table, the WPT crew and reporters operated from repurposed poker tables.
Randal Flowers (left) and Andy Frankenberger have both won WPT titles -- Flowers won the WPT Spanish Championship last season, and Frankenberger won the WPT Legends of Poker earlier this season. In this battle-of-the-champions hand, Flowers got the best of it. With the board showing QQ9J on the turn, Flowers moved all in with KQ (trip queens) and doubled through Frankenberger's A10.
With 10 players remaining, Brandon Steven (background, right) talks to Andy Frankenberger (foreground, left) after a flop of 1092. Steven claimed to have had a set, but felt that Frankenberger had a higher set. Steven eventually folded, and Frankenberger took the pot without showing.
John Krpan (right) shakes hands with the other players after busting out in 10th place. Krpan lost a preflop race with 77 against the AK of Jason Koon (not pictured).
Brandon Steven (left) moves all in under the gun, and waits for a decision from Jason Koon (center, left). Koon would eventually fold, but Bobby Suer (far right) would call with AK and win a race against Steven's 88. The hand would cripple Steven, who ultimately busted in ninth place.
Skip Wilson (standing, right) pumps his fists after doubling up with AA against the AQ of Randal Flowers (foreground, left). Wilson didn't play many hands at the final table, but he showed down strong hands whenever he did.
Allen Kessler attempts to make his third televised WPT final table, and is wearing a "Texas Hold'em Chainsaw Massacre" shirt that a fan created.
Michael Benvenuti (far left) puts a bad beat on Bobby Suer (far right) -- Benvenuti was all in preflop with 86 against Suer's QQ, but caught a diamond flush to win the pot. On this day, there were quite a few times when the short-stacked all-in players were dominated preflop and dishing out bad beats.
To keep the game running, Tournament Director Craig Lumpp sits in the box and deals a hand to the final eight players until a new dealer can be rounded up. Lumpp dealt one hand, but it wasn't without controversy, as Jason Koon (foreground, right) open-folded the river in a three-way pot. Koon received a warning, and Andy Frankenberger (left) bet Allen Kessler (seat 9) out of the pot.
After Bobby Suer's elimination in eighth place, the final seven players battle it out on the TV bubble.
WPT Announcer Mike Sexton (standing, left) and the WPT's new "Raw Deal" analyst Tony Dunst (standing, center) check out the action with seven players remaining.
Allen Kessler waits alone at the table during one of the breaks with seven players remaining. Except for the dealer, that is.
A race situation turns into a chop for Randal Flowers (left) and Andy Frankenberger. Flowers was all in with 33 against Frankenberger's AK. The board brought out an eight-high straight, and Jason Koon said, "Well, if there's ever a good time for a chop, I guess it's a race situation."
Michael Benvenuti (foreground, right) lays a bad beat on Jason Koon (foreground, left) when his J6 turns the tables on Koon's A6 -- Benvenuti caught a runner-runner king-high straight.
Skip Wilson (standing, left) doubles up again, this time with 1010 against the 6-6 of Noah Schwartz (right). Wilson seemed to be the only player who could win with the best preflop hand.
A short while earlier, Allen Kessler doubled through Jason Koon with pocket aces against Koon's A-K. Kessler won that battle, but Koon won the war -- in the last hand of the night, Kessler moved all in with AK and ran into Jason Koon's AA. Andy Frankenberger (left) offers condolences to Kessler after his seventh-place finish on the TV bubble.
The televised WPT final table begins tomorrow (Thursday) at 4:00 pm PT, when the final six players will battle it out for the title. Return to WorldPokerTour.com for complete hand-for-hand coverage of all the action, including chip counts after every hand, a winner's interview with WPT Anchor Kimberly Lansing, and a video recap from Jessica Welman and BJ Nemeth.
03:50 PM, 10/20/10
Festa al Lago Final 6
Level 27: 40,000-80,000, 10,000 ante
The story of the tournament and maybe the year is 37 year old equity derivatives trader Andy Frankenberger who is poised to do what few have ever done before; win two titles in the same season on the WPT. Only five men, Gus Hansen, Howard Lederer, Erick Lindgren, Daniel Negreanu and Tuan Le have ever won two in a single season and no one has accomplished the feat since Season Three when both Negreanu and Le bagged two titles. What makes Frankenberger's results even more astounding is that Festa al Lago is only the fourth WPT tournament he has entered. The key to the former Wall Streeters success is being "consistently inconsistent", a counter strategy attack that more often than not leaves his opponents fuming at his unconventional play. When Frankenberger won the Legends of Poker title in Los Angeles in August, former WPT Player of the Year Jonathan Little called Frankenberger a " table clown" on Twitter. No one questions his ability now as Frankenberger is poised to not only match Little's record of two WPT titles but also finds himself only four tournaments into season nine with an almost insurmountable lead for WPT Player of the Year.
Featured Blog, Andy Frankenberger, Michael Benvenuti, Noah Schwartz, Skip Wilson, Randal Flowers, Jason Koon, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX
That is not to say there are not other stories at the table. Randal Flowers is the youngest WPT champ in history having won the WPT Spanish Championship in Barcelona at the age of twenty. Now 22, Flowers is the chip leader and favorite to become the youngest two-time WPT title holder. Also of note, while in Las Vegas, Flowers is staying at the home of WPT analyst Tony Dunst.
Twenty-seven year old Noah "McLovin" Schwartz is making his second WPT final table alongside first timers Jason Koon and Michael Benvenuti both of them emblematic of the young guns that have taken over live tournament poker. The odd man out at the table is 62 year old Skip Wilson, an inventor and retired businessman from Cincinnati who at first glance would seem to be the soft spot at the table, but looks can be deceiving as Wilson has 16 cashes and 5 final tables in his WSOP resume.
All eyes at the final table today will be on Frankenberger but for Andy it may seem oddly familiar. Just as at the Legends final there will be a 62 year old in the final six (Tom Lee at Legends, Skip Wilson at Bellagio), a hotshot young player with a raucous fan base in the audience (Kyle Wilson/ Randal Flowers), a tough player with previous WPT experience (Jared Jaffee/Noah Schwartz), and a tough young online pro (Tom Braband/Jason Koon). The New Yorker just hopes that it's deja vu all over again.
12:03 PM, 10/20/10
Hand #184: Skip Wilson Doubles Through Noah Schwartz
Level 27: 40,000-80,000, 10,000 ante
Noah Schwartz raises to 225,000 from under the gun and Skip Wilson moves all-in for 550,000 on the button. Schwartz calls with pocket sixes and Wilson turns over TT. The board runs out KQ3K2 and Wilson doubles up.
Skip Wilson, Noah Schwartz, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX
Skip Wilson - 1,200,000 (15 big blinds)
Noah Schwartz - 3,145,000 (39 big blinds)
12:25 AM, 10/20/10
Hand #100: Skip Wilson Doubles Through Randal Flowers
Level 25: 25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante
Hand #100: Randal Flowers raises to 115,000 from middle position and Skip Wilson makes it 300,000 to go on the button. Flowers moves all-in, having Wilson covered. Wilson calls with AA and Flowers shows AQ. The board runs out QJ692 and Wilson doubles up.
Skip Wilson, Randal Flowers, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX
Skip Wilson -2,500,000 (50 big blinds)
Randal Flowers - 970,000 (20 big blinds)
09:17 PM, 10/19/10
Hands #41-46: Even Allen Kessler Folds When Skip Wilson Finally Plays a Hand
Level 24: 20,000-40,000, 4,000 ante
Hand #41 - Allen Kessler raises from middle position to 90,000, Skip Wilson reraises from middle position to 256,000, and Kessler folds AQ face up. It doesn't take a player as tight as Kessler to fold to a 3-bet from a player who hasn't played a hand in more than two full orbits.
Allen Kessler, Skip Wilson, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX
Fact: Skip Wilson limped to the flop in Hand #21, and then folded. The last time Wilson put more than the big blind into a pot was Hand #17.
Hand #42 - Andy Frankenberger raises under the gun to 95,000, Jason Koon reraises from the cutoff to 245,000, and Frankenberger angrily mucks, and his JJ is accidentally exposed. Koon takes the pot.
Hand #43 - Randal Flowers raises from the small blind to 120,000, winning the blinds and antes.
Hand #44 - Randal Flowers raises from the button to 95,000, winning the blinds and antes.
Hand #45 - Noah Schwartz raises from middle position to 100,000, winning the blinds and antes.
Hand #46 - Brandon Steven limps under the gun for 40,000, Randal Flowers calls from late position, and Andy Frankenberger reraises from the cutoff to 150,000. Steven and Flowers both call.
The flop comes 984, Steven and Flowers both check, Frankenberger bets 300,000, and the others fold. Andy Frankenberger takes the pot.
07:05 PM, 10/19/10
Brandon Steven Gets Out Cheap
Level 22: 12,000-24,000, 3,000 ante
Brandon Steven limps in from middle position, Annette Obrestad calls on the button, Skip Wilson completes the small blind, and John Krpan checks his option in the big blind.
Brandon Steven, Skip Wilson, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX
The flop comes down 982 and action checks to Steven, who bets 42,000. Obrestad folds, Wilson calls , and Krpan folds.
Both players check the Q on the turn and the river brings the 7. Wilson bets 65,000 and Steven starts to think. He tells Wilson, "You have jack-ten, huh?"
Wilson remains silent and Steven calls. Wilson shows exactly what Steve expected to see, JT for a queen-high straight. Steven mucks and Wilson takes the pot.
"I should have lost so much more on that hand," Steven tells the tables.
Skip Wilson - 1,840,000 (77 big blinds)
Brandon Steven - 1,200,000 (50 big blinds)
02:07 PM, 10/19/10
Randal Flowers Crosses the Million Mark
Level 21: 10,000-20,000, 3,000 ante
Randal Flowers raises to 42,000 from the cutoff and Skip Wilson reraises to 125,000 out of the small blind. Flowers calls and they go heads-up to a flop of Q87. Wilson bets out 200,000 and Flowers doesn't think too long before announcing, "raise."
Randal Flowers, Skip Wilson, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX
Flowers slides out the chips to call, then counts down his stack. "506,000 more," Flowers tells Wilson as he moves the rest of his chips in the pot. Wilson folds and Flowers takes it down.
Randal Flowers - 1,200,000 (60 big blinds)
Skip Wilson - 1,650,000 (83 big blinds)
01:33 PM, 10/19/10
Skip Wilson Takes the Chip Lead, Knocks Annette Down to 325,000
Level 21: 10,000-20,000, 3,000 ante
Annette Obrestad opens the pot for 45,000 from under the gun, Skip Wilson raises to 150,000 from early position, Obrestad shoves and Wilson calls all in for 1,065,000.
Annette Obrestad, Skip Wilson, Tournaments, Bellagio, Festa al Lago, Season IX, Featured Blog
Obrestad shows AK while Wilson shows QQ.
The board comes J83Q7.
The Q hits the turn and Wilson cheers as he makes top set. "I don't know why he cheered, that's the worst card in the deck for him", says Obrestad. She is drawing very live at this point with the nut flush draw and a gutshot straight draw.
The river bricks and Wilson takes the chiplead with just about 2.2 million. Obrestad is now on the short stack with just 325,000 in chips after the hand.
Wilson - 2,200,000 (110 bb)
Obrestad - 325,000 (16 bb)
Photo: Skip Wilson (right) has doubled through Annette Obrestad twice so far today, as they've switched relative spots on the leaderboard. Obrestad's boyfriend, Scott Montgomery (background, center), watches from a nearby table.
01:14 PM, 10/19/10