Leron Washington Living the Dream at the Celebrity Invitational
Level 30: 100,000-200,000, 25,000 ante
WPT Host Mike Sexton couldn’t help but compare boxer and ClubWPT.com online qualifier Leron Washington to Muhammed Ali. It is a more than fitting comparison though, considering how Washington ducked, bobbed and weaved his way through a record-setting Celebrity Invitational field and a tough final table to take down the top prize of $100,000. The recreational player from Huntington, West Virginia proved he could play with some of the top names from poker and Hollywood alike, including final tablemates Thor Hansen and Trishelle Cannatella.
When the final table began, it was truly anyone’s game, as the six players vying for the title were in a virtual dead heat when it came to chip stacks. It was Sean Urban, who began the tournament as chip leader, who got off to a fast start, tangling in a number of pots and making it clear he wasn’t afraid to splash around in hands. Steve Elliot tried to splash around as well, but after dropping a big pot to Cannatella, he was handcuffed by his short stack and was down to just two big blinds when he got it all-in holding K-Q to Neev Baram’s K-10. Baram managed to run out a Broadway straight to eliminate Elliot in 6th place and cross the 2 million chip threshold.
The most experienced poker pro at the table would be the next to fall. Thor Hansen came in as the shortest stack of the day and, though he was able to pick up a couple of pots, he eventually ran out of steam and busted in an unlucky spot when his A-6 was cracked by Washington’s 6-8 on after the board ran out Q-Q-8-5-8 to give Washington a full house.
It took fifty hands to eliminate two players, but the next two would come at a rapid fire rate. Just four hands after Hansen’s elimination, Washington won a nearly 2 million chip pot off Baram to leave him extremely short on chips. Baram got his stack in the very next hand, shoving all-in from under the gun holding Q-10 and Urban called from the big blind with A-K. Big slick held up to give Urban the pot and eliminate Baram.
Even after busting out Baram, Urban’s stack couldn’t compete with Washington’s more than 6 million chips. Both Cannatellla and Urban were sitting on 2 million chip stacks and looking for a spot to get it in and double up before the blinds got too much bigger. Cannatella found that spot when she moved all-in over the top of Washington’s opening raise holding K-J and Washington called with A-3. She spiked a king on the flop to double up and, more importantly, slowed down Washington’s momentum.
Cannatella was hoping for a similar result when she clashed in another big pot with Washington a short while later. She shoved all-in on an 8-7-5-5 board holding pocket queens and Washington called with 6-7 for a pair and a straight draw. The river 4 made his straight, eliminated Cannatellla in 3rd place and set up a heads-up match in which Washington held a 9-1 chip advantage over a short-stacked Urban.
Washington would not enjoy his comfortable chip lead for very long though. On the third hand of heads-up play, Urban doubled through Washington and did so again just two lands later to cut Washington’s lead to 7-3. From there, Urban appeared to seize control of the match. He slowly chipped away at his opponent and late in the match he even managed to take the chip lead away from Washington for the first time in over fifty hands.
As a boxer, Washington is experienced at rolling with the punches though and, while he was down for the count, he was certainly not out. He and Urban continued to battle back and forth in small pots, but the penultimate hand of the match would prove to be a doozy:
The two were in a limped pot with the flop reading K-J-10. Washington led out for a bet, Urban raised him and Washington called. Both players checked when a second J paired the board on the turn, but the 2 on the river prompted Urban to shove all-in. Washington stood from his chair, paced around the table for a moment assessing the situation and took a deep breath before announcing, “Alright, I call.”
Urban tapped the table, conceding defeat, before turning over Q-5 for a busted straight and flush draw. Washington revealed K-Q for two pair, which was enough to take the more than 10 million chip pot and leave Urban with just 175,000 chips. Washington dealt the fatal blow to Urban the very next hand to claim the title of WPT Celebrity Invitational Champion.
The ClubWPT.com qualifier will get a chance to prove his poker prowess again next month as well, since part of his prize includes a seat into the $25,000 buy-in WPT Championship event at the Bellagio. No matter how he does next month in Las Vegas, Washington can rest assured knowing that his skills on the felt are certainly on par with his skills in the ring.
Hand #111: Leron Washington Wins the WPT Celebrity Invitational ($100,000)
Level 30: 100,000-200,000, 25,000 ante
The small blind is 100,000, and Urban only has 150,000 after he antes, so of course he blindly moves all in. Washington blindly calls with 32, and Urban shows 96. Urban needs to win this pot to stay alive.
The flop comes 753, and Washington pairs his three to take the lead. But Urban picks up a gutshot straight draw to go with his two overcards.
The turn card is the Q, and Urban picks up a club flush draw as well. He needs a nine, an eight, a six, or any club to survive.
The river card is the 7, and Leron Washington wins the pot -- and the tournament -- with two pair, sevens and threes.
Sean Urban finishes as the runner-up, earning $50,000.
Leron Washington, who qualified for this tournament on ClubWPT.com, wins the WPT Celebrity Invitational, earning $100,000, a watch, a WPT bracelet, and a Commerce trophy. As part of that prize, he has entry into the $25,000 WPT World Championship at Bellagio in April.
Congratulations to Leron Washington!
1st: Leron Washington - $100,000
2nd: Sean Urban - $50,000
3rd: Trishelle Cannatella - $20,000
4th: Neev Baram - $15,000
5th: Thor Hansen - $10,000
6th: Steven Elliott - $5,000