Festa Al Lago
|Dates||Oct 16 - 20, 2006|
|Final Table Date||Oct 20, 2006|
|Buy-In||$10,000 + $300|
|Number of Entrants||433|
For some people, poker is just one big party. For amateur player Joe Pelton, the party got started just a few weeks before when he took down the WPT Legends of Poker in California. Now, at the Festa al Lago, a veritable party by the lake, Pelton was living the party life by making his second WPT final table in as many attempts. Entering the final table with the chip lead, it seemed like nothing could stop the young business analyst from Newport Beach, California. Somehow, he'd once again found a way to again outlast more than 400 of the world's best poker players. At the Festa al Lago final table, he had to face five tough professionals if he wanted to take down his second title. This is what the chip stacks looked like at the final table kicked off.
Seat 1: Can Kim Hua 765,000
Seat 2: Andreas Walnum – 1,279,000
Seat 3: Steve Wong 886,000
Seat 4: Joe Pelton -- 2,923,000
Seat 5: Chris Loveland 1,059,000
Seat 6: David Baker – 1,652,000
With the blinds at 10,000/20,000/2,000, Pelton started off the final table by announcing his presence, coming in for a raise from AdJd, getting a call from Steve Wong's AQ, and then taking down the pot with a continuation bet. It was clear message: I have the big stack, I just won more than a million bucks, and I'm not going to back down now.
Steve Wong, however, looked to prove he would not be pushed around by the bigger stack or Pelton's aggression. With play folded to him in the small blind on the next hand, he raised the big blind by six times to 120,000. Pelton sensed something odd and moved all in with Ah9h. Wong called in a shot with AsKd. Pelton seemed suddenly chastened. "Nice overbet," he said. The flop came Ts2c2d. The turn and river were of no consequence -- an 8s and 3c. Just like that Steve Wong scored an early double-up and cut more than 800,000 out of Pelton's stack.
Some people would back down after a loss like that. Instead, when Andreas Walnum came in for a raise to 60,000, Pelton called with Ac3c. The flop came Qs8dAd. Pelton checked and Walnum bet out 100,000. Pelton called. The turn, a 6d, seemed to wake Pelton up. He led for 250,000. This time, it was Walnum who called. The river was the 8c. Pelton again led for 350,000 and visibly winced when Walnum moved all-in for 613,000. Pelton thought for a bit, but eventually called to see Walnum's set of sixes. Walnum had turned his set and rivered a full house. Pelton hadn't fallen from penthouse to outhouse, but it was close. Suddenly he was in fifth chip position. Not only that, after another mis-step against Chris Loveland, Pelton fell all the way to sixth place in chips.
With the blinds at 15,000/30,000/3,000, it would be a bit before the action picked up. When it did, it would spell the end of one of the final table players. David Baker opened the betting for 90,000 in the cutoff. Can Kim Hua, sitting on the button, pushed back for 200,000. Baker spied Hua's chips and moved all-in. Hua called without a second thought. Baker showed AhAc. Hua showed AsKs. The board ran out Th9h9sQs4h. Though Hua picked up a lot of outs on the turn, he couldn't put a beat on Baker. Hua, who already had two fifth place finished on WPT final tables, exited in sixth place for $83,490.
Pelton, who saw his chip lead fall apart in the early going, managed a double-up after Hua's exit. After picking up a few chips with an aggressive move against Steve Wong, Pelton finally found some real cards to play. Pelton raised to 90,000. Loveland, looking down at a pair of nines, re-raised to 270,000. Steve Wong, picked up a pair of tens, and found a fold. That's because Pelton moved All-In for a total of 473,000 the moment Wong's cards hit the muck. Loveland called, though he didn't seem to want to, and showed 9s9d. This time, it was Pelton's turn to have the pocket aces, one club and one diamond. The board, KcJsTd3c6h, offered no miracles and Pelton doubled up to get back around 1,000,0000 chips. Loveland lost half a million chips, Wong missed his shot to flop a set, and Pelton was back on his stride.
With Pelton back in action, Walnum looked to start his march toward the top. In a battle of the blinds, David Baker called from the small blind and Walnum checked his option. The flop came out 2h4hQc. Baker check-called Walnum's 70,000 bet. The turn, an Ac, drew another 70,000 check-call from Baker. The river was the six of diamonds. Again Baker checked. This time, Walnum upped the bet up to 225,000. Baker again called. Walnum turned over Qs4s for two pair and the win. Only the viewers on TV would know David held KhJh for a busted flush draw and nut- no-pair.
Joe Pelton would not go away. His ramped up his aggression and set up his next hand perfectly. After open-raising to 150,000 and getting a call from Wong, Pelton saw a flop of 2s5d6c. Wong checked, Pelton bet 300,000 and Wong asked, "How much do you have left?" After getting the count, Wong raised to one million. The bet had Pelton covered and he immediately announced, "All-In" with QhQc. Wong had just been caught, but had to call. He held Kh5h. The turn, 8c, and river, Jh, didn't help Wong and Pelton again doubled up again. Pelton proved it was possible to fall from grace and work one's way back nearly to the top.
It would not be long though, before Wong turned the tables on Pelton. Wong came in for a raise to 180,000 from the small blind. Pelton said, "I like playing pots with you," and called in the big blind. The flop, 6h3cKc, pulled a 260,000 bet from Wong. Pelton moved All-In and Wong called before Pelton finished announcing his bet. Wong showed AdKd. It was Pelton's turn to be caught. He held As5c. The turn, a 2c, opened up a bunch of outs for Pelton. Alas, he missed. The river was the king of hearts and the 2.5 million pot slid to Steve Wong.
On the next hand, David Baker decided it was time to get his chips in. He moved All In with Ac5s. Pelton, just off his huge loss to Wong, called for half his stack with KdQs. The board ran out Qh9c2d-Kh-2h. Baker's 60-40 shot didn't hold, though, and he was out in fifth place, earning $125,240 in prize money. Baker walked to the rail, still incredulous, and said, "He just doesn't want to win."
Pelton was heard to remark, "Did I mention I was running good today?"
Pelton continued his efforts to send people to the rail a few hands later. He came in for a raise to 150,000. When Loveland moved All In for 410,000, Pelton was getting 2-1 on his money said, "Don't try this at home" and called with his 4d5d. Loveland held Kc8c. The board came out As9d8sQh3h and Loveland doubled up. Pelton said nothing more about running good.
Loveland, buoyed by his double-up, came in for a raise to 150,000 with 7h7c. Andreas Walnum looked down at AdKc and made it 600,000 to play. Loveland moved All-In and got an immediate call from Walnum. The board ran out 9c9dAc8d8h. Chris Loveland was eliminated in fourth place, picking up $197,745 for his efforts.
While Pelton's tough battles had been against Steve Wong, his ultimate demise came at the hands of Andreas Walnum. Three handed, Pelton limped into the small blind with Jh9d. Walnum bumped it 10 150,000 from the big blind. Pelton checked the Kd8h7h flop and Walnum fired out 350,000. Pelton sprang what he hoped would look like a trap and announced he was All-In. Walnum, however, was unimpressed and called almost immediately. A 3c and As on the river didn't help Pelton out. The man some folks took to calling Crazy Joe finished in third place and earned another $292,220 in prize money.
Head-up action did not last long. Steve limped in from the small blind, Walnum raised it to 175,000 and Walnum called. The flop came out JcJhKh. Walnum bet out 200,000 and Wong called. The turn was the 8c. This time Walnum checked and Wong bet out 400,000. Walnum made it 800,000 and Wong called. The river was the 5d. Walnum moved all in and Wong quickly made the call. Walnum showed 2h2s for a flopped set. Wong screamed in what sounded like real pain and tabled his Kd4c. For second place, Wong earned $542,700.
Andreas Walnum may not have been known before. Now, with his set of deuces, he became a 23-year-old World Poker Tour champion and $1,090,025 richer. He said, "I've been running really good for the last two days. It feels unreal."