When the LA Poker Classic final table began, poker fans were pretty divided between those who believed Carlos Mortensen would pick up his record fourth title and those who believed Vivek Rajkumar would breeze thru the final table en route to a second win. Those people didn’t count on Gregory Brooks.
It took three hands for Brooks to take the chip lead at this final table and, for the next 93, he maintained his spot as one of the big stacks at the table. The 23 year-old New Jersey native may have been a WPT rookie surrounded by seasoned vets, but confidence and a little good old patriotism served him well at this stacked final table. With a crowd of friends and family decked out in red, white and blue to cheer him on in his first-ever WPT event, Brooks used his aggressive style to upset the vets and become the latest WPT-made millionaire.
Many predicted the deep stacks would result in a long final table, but it took just three hands for the carnage to begin. Brooks jumped to the chip lead early when a cooler of a hand saw him get it all-in against Rajkumar holding pocket aces to Rajkumar’s pocket queens. The aces held and Brooks only built on his momentum from there.
While it was smooth sailing for Brooks, it was rough waters for Rajkumar, as he found himself all-in with the best of it against Steve Gross on two separate occasions, only to chop the pot once and double Gross up in the other.
On Hand #31 the eliminations began. Darryll Fish was running low on chips and shoved all-in over the top of a raise from Carlos Mortensen with Q10. Mortensen quickly called with pocket queens and sent Fish to the rail in sixth place.
Gross was the next to go. He battled a short stack all afternoon and staved off elimination a couple of times, but it was not his day. He got it in holding J10 to Rajkumar’s A3 and failed to come from behind a third time. Rajkumar’s ace-high held on a KK974 board and Gross went home in fifth place.
Levahot followed suit just four hands later. He lost a chunk of his stack when he made two pair in a hand where Brooks hit a set to drop him to just over a million. The rest of the chips went in on a J96 flop when he called Rajkumar’s check-raise all-in holding KQ to Rajkumar’s QQ. The 4 on the turn and 3 on the river were no help to Lehavot ad, suddenly, the field was down to three.
Brooks had a big chip lead, but Mortensen and Rajkumar weren’t exactly short on chips. With more than 50 big blinds in each player’s arsenal, it seemed like this could be a long night, however, it took just six hands to get the field down to heads-up.
Just one hand after Brooks took more than a million of Mortensen’s chips, the two tangled again. All three players saw a flop of J53 and Rajkumar checked to Brooks, who bet 380,000. Mortensen raised to 800,000, Rajkumar folded, and Brooks moved all-in. Mortensen called with KJ for top pair and Brooks showed 46 for straight and flush draws. The 5 on the turn kept Mortensen in the lead, but the 10 on the river gave Brooks the pot and dashed Mortensen’s hopes of a fourth WPT title.
Brooks had the advantage when heads-up play began, but Rajkumar brought things close to even thanks to one of the biggest calls of the season. Rajkumar check-called a big bet from Brooks on a QJ7 flop and checked again when the turn brought the 5. Brooks moved all-in and Rajkumar thought for several minutes before calling with 88. He had the best hand for the moment, as Brooks turned over K10 for a big draw, and Rajkumar doubled up when the river brought the 4.
The double up gave Rajkumar new life, but a second double was not in his future. Instead, Brooks steadily chipped away at his opponent, pulling out to a 4 to 1 chip advantage. Down to under four million chips, Rajkumar called a raise from Brooks and they saw a flop of 732. Rajkumar checked, Brooks bet 400,000, and Rajkumar took a few moments before announcing he was all-in.
Brooks thought the situation through and called with 78 for top pair, which was in the lead against Rajkumar’s J10 for just jack high. With the 2 on the turn and an A on the river, Brooks’ pair of sevens held and he captured his first WPT title in the first WPT event he ever played.
It may have been his first event, but it certainly won't be his last. Brooks will most definitely play in $25,000 Championship in May and he guarantees there will be more WPT events, and hopefully more WPT final tables in his future.
Here are the final table results from the Season IX LA Poker Classic Main Event:
1st: Gregory Brooks - $1,654,120
2nd: Vivek Rajkumar - $908,730
3rd: Carlos Mortensen - $640,680
4th: Amir Lehavot - $421,680
5th: Steve Gross - $304,000
6th: Darryll Fish - $235,350
Even though Carlos Mortensen didn't capture his record fourth WPT title tonight, his third place finish only cements his legacy as the most successful player in World Poker Tour history.
With his $640,680 score here, he extends his lead in the lifetime WPT earnings list with $6,394,988. With 64 WPT events played and that much in earnings, Mortensen averages $99,921.69 in earnings each tournament; an amazing number that is a testament to The Matador's unrivavled consistency.
Mortensen also has a bit of a consolation prize. Thanks to a last minute change in the line-up, Carlos Mortensen has been added to the field of 64 players taking part in the NBC Heads-Up Championship tomorrow. On the list of snubs, Mortensen was widely considered to be one of the biggest snubs, especially after his back-to-back top ten finishes in this event.
Hand #61: Carlos Mortensen Eliminated in 3rd Place ($640,680)
Level 29: 40,000-80,000, 10,000 ante
Carlos Mortensen raises from the button to 200,000, Vivek Rajkumar calls from the small blind, and Gregory Brooks calls from the big blind.
The flop comes J53, Rajkumar checks, Brooks bets 380,000, Mortensen raises to 800,000, and Rajkumar quickly folds. Brooks moves all in, and Mortensen quickly calls with KJ (pair of jacks). Brooks shows 64 for an open-ended straight draw with a flush draw. Mortensen needs his hand to hold up to stay alive.
The turn card is the 5, the river card is the 10, and Gregory Brooks wins the pot with a club flush to win the pot and eliminate Carlos Mortensen in third place.
Seat 1. Vivek Rajkumar - 5,980,000
Seat 3. Gregory Brooks - 14,450,000
Seat 6. Carlos Mortensen - Out in 3rd Place ($640,680)
There will be an extended break for the money presentation before heads-up play begins.
Hand #60: Gregory Brooks Wins a 2.3M Pot Against Carlos Mortensen
Level 29: 40,000-80,000, 10,000 ante
Gregory Brooks raises from the button to 210,000, and Carlos Mortensen calls from the small blind. Both players check to the turn on a board of AJ310, Mortensen bets 85,000, and Brooks calls.
The river card is the 2, Mortensen bets 85,000 again, Brooks thinks for a bit before raising to 800,000. Mortensen calls rather quickly, and Brooks shows A-2 to win the pot with two pair, aces and deuces. Mortensen mucks, and Gregory Brooks takes the pot to increase his chip lead.
Hand #31: Darryll Fish Eliminated in 6th Place ($235,350)
Level 28: 30,000-60,000, 10,000 ante
Carlos Mortensen raises from the cutoff to 150,000, Darryll Fish moves all in from the small blind for 1,230,000, and Mortensen quickly calls with QQ. Fish shows Q10, and he'll need to improve to stay alive.
The board comes 1097A6, and Mortensen wins the pot with his pocket queens to eliminate Darryll Fish in sixth place.
Seat 1. Vivek Rajkumar - 3,365,000
Seat 2. Darryll Fish - Out in 6th Place ($235,350)
Seat 3. Gregory Brooks - 6,715,000
Seat 4. Amir Lehavot - 4,640,000
Seat 5. Steve Gross - 980,000
Seat 6. Carlos Mortensen - 4,730,000
Now that the WPT Celebrity Invitational has wrapped up, attention returns to the $10,000 buy-in WPT L.A. Poker Classic, with an impressive lineup that includes Carlos Mortensen going for his record fourth WPT title. Here's a photo recap of Day 5, as 18 players battled for six seats at the televised WPT final table.
Kathy Liebert (left) came into Day 5 in 17th position with 18 players left, but she couldn't overcome her short stack. Within the first few hands, Liebert moved all in from late position with A10, but ran into the JJ of Darryll Fish (not pictured). Liebert earned $50,340 for her 18th place finish.
With the board showing KQ94 on the turn, Matthew Berkey (left) calls a bet from Carlos Mortensen. The river card would be the 3, and Berkey would fold to Mortensen's all-in move, saying, "Queens are good, Carlos." Berkey would eventually be eliminated in 15th place, earning $56,880.
After a flop of KQ3, David Baker (standing back from the table, center) moved all in against Jason Dewitt. Baker had K10 for a pair of kings against Dewitt's 109 (flush draw with a gutshot straight draw). The last two cards were blanks, and Baker would double up.
With the board showing Q8446, chipleader Vivek Rajkumar makes a huge bet (605,000) against Carlos Mortensen.
After the big river bet from Vivek Rajkumar (foreground, right), Carlos Mortensen (top, left) would fold, showing one card -- the 3. Rajkumar would also show a card -- the 7. Rajkumar took this pot to extend his chip lead to more than twice as much as anyone else with 15 players remaining.
Jason Dewitt (seated, left) three-bet all in after a flop of K43, and Allen Cunningham (standing, right) called with KQ for a pair of kings. Dewitt was caught bluffing with A6, and Cunningham doubled up.
Jason Senti was all in preflop with QQ against the KJ of Gregory Brooks, but luck wasn't on his side -- a king on the flop gave the pot to Brooks as Senti was eliminated in 14th place, earning $56,880.
The key pot of the tournament happened with 12 players left, when James Carroll (seated, left) four-bet all in, Carlos Mortensen (seated, center) moved all in over the top, and Shannon Shorr (foreground, left) called. They all had premium hands -- Shorr had AA, Carroll had KK, and Mortensen had QQ.
But the flop came J82, changing the dynamics of the hand dramatically, as Mortensen was the only player with a spade in his hand.
The turn card was the 10, clinching the three-way pot for Carlos Mortensen (seated, center). Shannon Shorr (foreground, left) and James Carroll (standing, center left) were eliminated, and since Jesse Yaginuma (not pictured) busted at the same time at the next table, it created a three-way tie for 10th place ($63,410 each).
Jason Dewitt (right) was short stacked and moved all in preflop with K10, and he was racing against the 77 of Carlos Mortensen (left). The board came A5343, and Mortensen won the pot to eliminate Dewitt in ninth place ($94,800).
Vivek Rajkumar (left) and Darryll Fish (right) played quite a few pots against each other on Day 5. Rajkumar was the massive chipleader with 15 players left, but fell back with the rest of the pack as they approached the final table.
A look at the table -- and the chip sculpture of chipleader Carlos Mortensen (foreground, right) -- with eight players remaining.
Amir Lehavot (left) four-bet all in with Q10, but he was dominated when Allen Cunningham (center) called with A10.
Allen Cunningham (center) motions his hands as if to say, "What can you do?" when his A10 can't hold against the Q10 of Amir Lehavot (left). The board came JJ495, giving Lehavot a flush, and moving him up to second in chips behind Carlos Mortensen. Cunningham was eliminated in eighth place, earning $130,750.
On his way out of the room, Allen Cunningham (left) receives a handshake of congratudolences from chipleader Carlos Mortensen.
Gregory Brooks stares down David Baker (foreground, left) during a hand with seven players remaining on the TV bubble.
Carlos Mortensen is tied with Gus Hansen for most WPT titles with three each. As chipleader with seven players left, Mortensen is within sight of a record-setting fourth WPT title. Mortensen is already the all-time money winner on the World Poker Tour, and his lead continues to grow every time he moves up a spot in the money.
With seven players battling for the six seats at the televised WPT final table, the situation takes on added importance.
WPT Commentator Mike Sexton (standing, in red) checks out the action with seven players remaining. In this hand, five players have seen a flop of A97, including Steve Gross (seated, left), Carlos Mortensen (seated, center), and Vivek Rajkumar (foreground, right).
After Carlos Mortensen (left) raised from the button, short stack David Baker (right) moved all in from the small blind. Mortensen would fold here, but they did it again the next hand -- Mortensen raised, and Baker reraised him to take the pot.
The next hand, Baker would four-bet all in against Vivek Rajkumar (not pictured). Baker turned over KK, and he was a favorite to double up against Rajkumar's A10. But the board came AJ8104, giving Rajkumar the pot with a pair of aces. David Baker was the unfortunate TV bubble boy, earning $176,520 for seventh place. That pot propelled Rajkumar to second in chips, closely behind chipleader Mortensen.
As the chipleader going for his record fourth WPT title, Carlos Mortensen is awarded the RISE Clothing Player of the Day from WPT Anchor Kimberly Lansing.
The six final tablists were invited by the Commerce Casino to an NBA game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets. With two tables remaining, the players were told that the chipleader would get to go down on the court at halftime for the traditional win-money-by-making-a-series-of-baskets contest.
Though several players said they would love to see Vivek Rajkumar make that attempt, Carlos Mortensen got the honor as the chipleader. Mortensen went down to the court at halftime, and had to make a layup, a free throw, a three-pointer, and a half-court shot in 30 seconds.
How did he do? Well, you'll need to watch the video that ClubWPT uploaded to YouTube -- Click Here.
The Final Table begins Thursday at 4:00 pm PT. Return to WorldPokerTour.com for complete live coverage, including hand-for-hand updates, chip counts after every hand, and a video of Kimberly Lansing interviewing the winner.
Here's a look at the official seating and chip counts for the final table:
Shannon Shorr & James Carroll Out in 10th; Carlos Mortensen Busts Them Both
Level 26: 20,000-40,000, 5,000 ante
Carlos Mortensen raises under the gun to 95,000, Shannon Shorr reraises from the small blind to 275,000, and James Carroll moves all in from the big blind. Mortensen moves all in over the top, and Shorr quickly calls all in.
Shannon Shorr: AA
James Carroll: KK
Carlos Mortensen: QQ
The board comes J8210K, and since Mortensen is the only player with a spade, he wins the entire pot with a queen-high spade flush.
Shannon Shorr and James Carroll are both eliminated, and with a simultaneous elimination at the next table (details coming soon), it is a three-way tie for 10th place.
Carlos Mortensen - 4,500,000 (112 BBs)
Shannon Shorr - Out in 10th Place ($63,410)
James Carroll - Out in 10th Place ($63,410)