In less than 10 days, the WPT World Championship kicks-off at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. As one of poker’s most prestigious events, the WPT Season X finale is set to attract the game’s top professionals and create a massive prize pool. Before this event gets underway, the WPT Blog has decided to take a look back at last year’s dramatic tournament.
Bellagio is synonymous with high-stakes poker, playing host to the first-ever WPT tournament in the Five Diamond World Poker Classic (May 27 – June 1, 2002) and home to Bobby’s Room. Year after year, the poker’s foremost players turnout in force for the $25,000 WPT World Championship and Season IX was no exception. A total of 220 elite professionals registered for the seven-day event, including those in contention for WPT Season IX Player of the Year.
The acclaimed blind structure gives skilled players ample time to chip up, and most of the 188 Day 1 participants survived into Day 2. Joining the field the following day were 32 additional professionals, including Phil Hellmuth, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier , Tony G, and defending Champion David Williams. The pace picked up and only 116 of the starting field made it through to Day 3. Late entry proved to be a strong tactic for David Williams, who made a serious run at repeating as Champion before bowing out in a commendable 14th place ($53,095).
Day 3 saw the elimination of many WPT Champions, however Season IX WPT Amneville Champion Sam El Sayed made it through as chip leader. At the start of Day 4, El Sayed looked to be the biggest threat to overtake then-front runner Andy Frankenberger for WPT Season IX Player of the Year. When play continued, El Sayed continued to impress and survived again near the top of the chip counts. Young pro Galen Hall took the chip lead into Day 5 but was followed closely by Roger Teska and Scott Seiver.
The final play-down day produced a dramatic end to the race for WPT Season IX Player of the Year. With just ten players remaining, Shannon Shorr and Sam El Sayed both held a chance at passing Andy Frankenberger with a fifth-place or higher finish in the event. While Shorr would go on to bust in 9th place, El Sayed looked poised to become the WPT Season IX POY as he held a sizeable chip lead with only eight players remaining. However the tides quickly turned against his favor and after losing a huge pot to Scott Seiver, El Sayed continued to hemorrhage chips. Incredibly, El Sayed went from strong chip leader with eight remaining to the eight place finisher in a very short span, officially sending the WPT Player of the Year award to Andy Frankenberger.
After a day of rest, the final six players took to the felt to determine who would earn the right to be called WPT World Champion. Scott Seiver began the final table virtually tied for the chip lead with Galen Hall, and pulled out to the early chip lead. Hall closed that gap by eliminating Justin Young in sixth place when Young’s AJ failed to improve against Hall’s AK, but Seiver fired right back. The very next hand after Young’s elimination, Tony Gargano and Scott Seiver got it all-in preflop with Gargano holding KJ to Seiver’s AK. Once again, Big Slick prevailed, and the field was quickly cut to four.
That pot put Seiver near the 10-million chip mark and gave him a more than comfortable lead, so when Hall eliminated Roger Teska in fourth place a couple of orbits later, he still had only around half the stack Seiver did. While Hall’s stack was much smaller than Seiver’s, it was short stack Farzad Bonyadi who was in the worst shape. The Iranian poker pro was not only the only non-American at the table, he was the lone representative of the old guard amongst a line-up of players all under the age of 30. Bonyadi more than held his own though, doubling up early to stay alive. and then doubling up through Hall not once, but twice during three-handed play.
Seiver would go on to eliminate Hall to set the heads-up showdown with Bonyadi. Seiver held a 3-1 chip advantage over Bonyadi, but the patient pro would not make it easy on Seiver. He doubled up when his top pair and straight draw held up against Seiver’s gutshot and flush draw combination to pick up some chips, but Seiver whittled Bonyadi back down to a stack that left him little room to maneuver. On the final hand of play, Seiver min-raised the button and Bonyadi called. The two players checked it down on the flop and turn as the board ran out 1062QK. The action blew up on the river as Seiver bet, Bonyadi raised, and Seiver moved all-in. Bonyadi thought for three minutes before calling with Q10 for two pair, but Seiver had J9 for the straight to take the pot and the victory.
Poker has always had its class clowns (Gavin Smith and Mike Matusow come to mind), as does some of the long list of actual comedians with a love of the game. The old guard has plenty of them, but in the new school of serious online poker players, there is one jokester who stands out above the rest: Scott Seiver. His poker prowess had long been obvious, but on the WPT especially, sometimes his happy personality overshadowed his results. That was the case no longer though, as Seiver masterfully controlled a tough final table to pick up the World Poker Tour’s most prestigious title and bring Season IX to a spectacular close.
Final table results from the Season IX WPT World Championship:
1st: Scott Seiver – $1,618,344
2nd: Farzad Bonyadi – $1,061,900
3rd: Galen Hall – $589,355
4th: Roger Teska – $371,665
5th: Tony Gargano – $278,749
6th: Justin Young – $225,654