When asked what the secret to WPT success is, "Boston" Tony Ruberto simply said: "You gotta get there." There were 393 people who tried to get to a title at the WPT's first-ever trip to Jacksonville for a Main Event, but Ruberto was he only one to succeed, winning his first WPT title as well as $325,928 in cash and prizes.
When the final table began, it was Ruberto who was in the driver's seat. The way he got to the final table was impressive enough. The young pro amassed a giant stack with two tables remaining and managed to come into final table play with a more than 2 million-chip advantage over his next closest competitor.
One of Ruberto's biggest threats at the table was Darryll Fish, who has experience playing in the WPT spotlight after finishing sixth in Season IX's LA Poker Classic. He came in as the short stack, but with experience on his side, he was not to be discounted. Fish found a good spot to double early, but he couldn't make the magic happen again. He ran 33 into Lisa Hamilton's 77 to match his finish at the Commerce: sixth place.
The next player to fall was ClubWPT.com's Artie Rodriguez. Ecstatic just to make the final table, the qualifier managed to hang right in there at a table of pros, despite a significant gap in live experience. Rodriguez called an all-in from an evenly-stacked Sam Soverel holding AJ to Soverel's AQ. Rodriguez could not get there and was eliminated two hands later, but his performance does put him in the pantheon of great ClubWPT players like Leron Washington and Andy Whetstone.
After doubling thru Rodriguez, Soverel put himself in a three-way tie for second with Hamilton and Vitor Coelho while Ruberto remained out front. For the next fifty hands or so, the race grew tighter and tighter though. At one point, it was basically a four-way tie for first, and each player took a turn serving as the chip leader.
As the action progressed though, both Soverel and Coelho found themselves short on chips. Down to around 20 big blinds, Coelho open shoved all-in with 44 only to run into Ruberto's AA. Coelho exited in fourth place, while Ruberto resumed his status as chip leader by a comfortable margin.
That margin grew even bigger when he tangled with Hamilton in a big pot post-flop. The two went heads-up on a board of A92. Hamilton checked from the big blind and Ruberto continuation bet. Hamilton check-raised and Ruberto decided to up the stakes. "Alright, I'm all-in," he told her.
Hamilton thought a while, then called with A3 for a pair of aces, but Ruberto had her bested with AK for a pair of aces with a bigger kicker. Hamilton didn't improve, exited in third place, and suddenly, Ruberto was heads-up with Soverel holding a more than 4-1 chip lead.
Soverel narrowed the gap early when he doubled up with QQ to Ruberto's A8, but it only took Ruberto 13 hands to grind his opponent back down to where he started heads-up action. On the final hand of play, Soverel shoved all-in over the top of a raise from Ruberto holding K7 and Rubert called with KJ.
The flop came QJ10, pairing up Ruberto and giving them both a straight draw. The 5 on the turn was a safe card for Ruberto. The 7 on the river meant Ruberto got there. He became the first-ever WPT champ from the Orange Park Kennel Club, earned $300,428 in cash, and a chance to pick up title number two at the $25,500 WPT World Championship event at Bellagio in the spring.
Here are the complete final table results from the WPT Jacksonville Fall Series Main Event:
1st: Anthony Ruberto - $325,928
2nd: Sam Soverel - $187,762
3rd: Lisa Hamilton - $112,657
4th: Vitor Coelho - $75,105
5th: Artie Rodriguez - $55,077
6th: Darryll Fish - $46,315
Sam Soverel min-raises from the cutoff to 80,000, and Vitor Coelho calls from the button. The flop comes K63, Soverel bets 90,000, and Coelho calls. The turn card is the 9, Soverel bets 200,000, and Coelho calls.
The river card is the 10, Soverel checks, Coelho bets 250,000, and Soverel goes into the tank. After 30 seconds or so, Soverel asks Coelho how many chips he has behind, and Coelho counts it out -- another 500,000 or so behind.
After nearly two minutes, Soverel calls, and Vitor Coelho turns over 33 to win the pot with a set of threes. Soverel mucks.
Seat 1. Darryll Fish - 654,000
Seat 2. Anthony Ruberto - 5,025,000
Seat 3. Sam Soverel - 1,016,000
Seat 4. Vitor Coelho - 1,874,000
Seat 5. Artie Rodriguez - 1,262,000
Seat 6. Lisa Hamilton - 2,022,000
Hand #34: Vitor Coelho Doubles Thru Anthony Ruberto
Level 26: 20,000-40,000, 5,000 ante
Vitor Coelho raises under the gun to 90,000, and Anthony Ruberto calls from the small blind. Both players check to the turn on a board of KQ27, Ruberto bets 155,000, and Coelho thinks for more than a minute before he calls.
The river card is the 8, Ruberto moves all in, and Coelho quickly calls all in for 455,000 with QQ for a set of queens. Ruberto mucks, and Vitor Coelho wins the pot to double up in chips.
Coelho tosses $200 to Ruberto, which was a reverse bounty he offered yesterday to players who doubled him up.
Seat 1. Darryll Fish - 389,000
Seat 2. Anthony Ruberto - 4,510,000
Seat 3. Sam Soverel - 1,846,000
Seat 4. Vitor Coelho - 1,429,000
Seat 5. Artie Rodriguez - 1,682,000
Seat 6. Lisa Hamilton - 1,997,000
Hand #16: Anthony Ruberto Wins Pot Worth 1.7 Million
Level 25: 15,000-30,000, 5,000 ante
Vitor Coelho min-raises under the gun to 60,000, and Anthony Ruberto calls from the small blind. Both players check to the turn on a board of 983Q, Ruberto bets 130,000, and Coelho calls.
The river card pairs the board with the 9, Ruberto bets 650,000, and Coelho goes into the tank for four minutes. Coelho counts out the bet next to his cards so he can check the damage to his stack, and Ruberto remains motionless the entire time.
Coelho eventually calls, and Ruberto shows J10 for a queen-high straight on the turn. Coelho mucks, and Anthony Ruberto wins a big pot.
Pot Size: 1,740,000
Seat 1. Darryll Fish - 604,000
Seat 2. Anthony Ruberto - 5,515,000
Seat 3. Sam Soverel - 1,356,000
Seat 4. Vitor Coelho - 699,000
Seat 5. Artie Rodriguez - 1,607,000
Seat 6. Lisa Hamilton - 2,072,000
Hand #6: Artie Rodriguez Doubles Thru Vitor Coelho
Level 24: 12,000-24,000, 4,000 ante
Sam Soverel min-raises from the button to 48,000, Vitor Coelho calls from the small blind, and Artie Rodriguez reraises from the big blind to 150,000. Soverel folds, and Coelho goes into the tank. Rodriguez says, "It's still very early."
After a minute and a half, Coelho moves all in for more than 2.4 million. Rodriguez says something like, "You really want to double me up so quick?"
After nearly a minute, Rodriguez calls all in for 817,000 with AK. Coelho turns over K8, and Rodriguez is a dominant favorite to double up here.
The board comes Q5567, and Artie Rodriguez wins the pot with ace high to double up in chips.
Seat 1. Darryll Fish - 581,000
Seat 2. Anthony Ruberto - 4,562,000
Seat 3. Sam Soverel - 1,276,000
Seat 4. Vitor Coelho - 1,600,000
Seat 5. Artie Rodriguez - 1,710,000
Seat 6. Lisa Hamilton - 2,124,000
Day 3 of WPT Jacksonville began with 42 players, but only 40 of them would finish in the money. The bubble burst rather quickly, and at that point, it was a battle to see who would make the six-handed WPT Final Table.
Here's a photographic recap of the Day 3 action:
By the end of the night, one player had built a huge chip lead -- nearly twice as many as any of the other final tablists. Who was it? You'll have to keep reading.
Vitor Coelho (right) came into the day with a big chip lead, but he ran into some trouble in the first level and lost nearly half his stack. Here, he faces a big bet on the turn from Lisa Hamilton (left).
Hamilton, who started the day near the bottom of the chip counts, had a great first level, passing Coelho as she built up an above-average stack early.
Allan Deguino uses a small Buddha statue as his chip protector, and as his stack dwindled, he would need all the luck he could get. It's a bad sign that his mini-Buddha could hold his entire stack of 74,000.
When action folded to short stack Allan Deguino (left) in the small blind, Dwyte Pilgrim (center) warned the entire table against shoving against him in a blind-vs.-blind situation. Deguino moved all in with AJ anyway, and Pilgrim called him with Q10.
Deguino placed his lucky Buddha on his chips, and it seemed to help as the flop came A43, giving him a big lead with a pair of aces. But the turn was the Q, the river was the 10, and Deguino shouted "No!" as his luck ran out -- Dwyte Pilgrim caught a running two pair to eliminate Deguino in 30th place.
Artie Rodriguez (left) earned his entry into this tournament in a freeroll on ClubWPT.com, and on Day 1, he was just happy to be here. But as each day passed, Rodriguez proved he could hang with the professional players. Once the field reached the money early on Day 3, Rodriguez could focus on trying to become the third ClubWPT qualifier to reach a WPT Final Table.
Dwyte Pilgrim (center) was the last remaining WPT winner in the field, and the only one to finish in the money. Here, Barry Wiedemann (right) bets into him on the river, forcing Pilgrim to fold.
Brian Hawkins stands up, expecting to be eliminated after running his AK into Michael Messick's QQ after a flop of Q87. When the chip stacks were counted down, Hawkins survived with a single big blind, but he was soon after eliminated in 23rd place.
After winning a big pot, Micah Raskin proudly displays his single 25,000 chip in the center of his chip stack. Raskin would make his way to the final two tables, but was eventually eliminated in 15th place.
When the final 18 players redrew for seats at the final two tables, ClubWPT.com qualifier Artie Rodriguez (left) was still hanging with the big dogs. Rodriguez was still smiling even though he found himself out of position to poker pros Dwyte Pilgrim (center) and Darryll Fish (right), both of whom had bigger stacks than he did.
It wasn't obvious at the time, but this photo represents a key moment in the tournament. Benjamin Zamani (left) moved all in preflop with 66, and Anthony Ruberto (right) called from the small blind with AK. It was a race situation which could clearly go either way.
The board came K73Q2, and Ruberto paired his king on the flop to win the pot. Zamani was crippled down to a single big blind, and had to watch Zamani stack the pot as he was effectively forced all in on the next hand -- which would be his last.
As for Anthony Ruberto, this hand would begin a big rush for him, as you'll soon see.
The mysterious John Liu disappeared again on Day 3, this time leaving for the dinner break about an hour early. Like he did the day before, he didn't tell anyone where he was going, he just got up from his seat and didn't return. (On Day 2, he disappeared for about four hours late in the day.)
Liu's chip stack weathered his disappearances, but when he returned after the dinner break, he was eventually eliminated in 13th place, earning $21,280. John Liu used to be a dealer here in the Poker Room at Orange Park Kennel Club.
At the final two tables, Darryll Fish (left) bets big on the turn against Sam Soverel (right). Fish was battling for the chip lead at this point.
Vitor Coelho started Day 3 as the big chipleader with 42 players left, but a rough first level dropped him back to the back. But he built his way back up, and when this photo was taken, he had retaken the lead with 1.9 million in chips.
Darryll Fish can be seen in the background (top right). Even though Fish's stack is considerably smaller in physical size, Fish wasn't far behind Coelho with 1.75 million in chips of his own.
After winning the race with A-K against Benjamin Zamani's pocket sixes, Anthony Ruberto (pictured) just kept steamrolling, winning pot after pot until he took the chip lead.
ClubWPT.com qualifier Artie Rodriguez (standing, right) continued to roll, doubling up thru Michael Messick with 14 players remaining. With the board showing 1054QJ, Rodriguez moved all in on the river with J10 for two pair. Messick called, but didn't show his cards.
When the field was down to 10 players, they redrew for seats at a single table. In seat order: (1) Darryll Fish, (2) Chris Tryba, (3) Anthony Ruberto, (4) Michael Messick, (5) Sam Soverel, (6) Matt Ezrol, (7) Vitor Coelho, (8) Artie Rodriguez, (9) Lisa Hamilton, (10) Alexander Venovski.
While other players were pushing big pots back and forth, Lisa Hamilton was picking her spots and calmly and quietly making her way to the WPT Final Table.
After running AQ into the KK of Darryll Fish, Chris Tryba (left) was crippled down to just three big blinds. A few hands later, Tryba could barely watch as he was all in with J9 against the K10 of chipleader Anthony Ruberto (right).
The board would come KJ4610, and Chris Tryba would be eliminated in 10th place.
Vitor Coelho (left) plays a pot against Darryll Fish (foreground right) with eight players remaining.
The final seven players battle for the six seats at Tuesday's WPT Final Table. In seat order: (1) Darryll Fish, (2) Anthony Ruberto, (3) Sam Soverel, (4) Matt Ezrol, (5) Vitor Coelho, (6) Artie Rodriguez, (7) Lisa Hamilton.
In the final hand of the night, Matt Ezrol (left) moved all in from the button with 66, and Vitor Coelho (standing, right) called from the small blind with KJ. Coelho took the lead when he paired his king on the flop, and Artie Rodriguez (far right) seemed more excited than Coelho as they waited for the river card.
The board came K538A, and Ezrol was the unfortunate WPT bubble boy, finishing in seventh place.
Artie Rodriguez becomes just the third ClubWPT.com qualifier to reach a WPT Final Table, and he hopes to be the first to win an open WPT title. Rodriguez came into this event looking forward to a great experience, and now he's guaranteed at least $46,315, with a shot at $325,928.
Here are the official chip counts for Tuesday's WPT Final Table:
Seat 1. Darryll Fish - 641,000 (26 BBs)
Seat 2. Anthony Ruberto - 4,512,000 (187 BBs)
Seat 3. Sam Soverel - 1,432,000 (59 BBs)
Seat 4. Vitor Coelho - 2,570,000 (107 BBs)
Seat 5. Artie Rodriguez - 797,000 (32 BBs)
Seat 6. Lisa Hamilton - 1,901,000 (79 BBs)
And here's the prizepool that they'll be playing for: