Mike Watson Outlasts Anthony Gregg to Capture PokerStars Caribbean Adventure EPT Championship
They came into the final table as the top two players, so it was only natural that they would be the ones who would decide the championship. After all was said and done, Mike ‘SirWatts’ Watson emerged as champion of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure European Poker Tour Main Event over Anthony Gregg, who was denied the championship in his third ever trip to the PCA EPT Main Event final table.
The duo had paced the play through Day 5, ending up 1-2 with Watson’s 6.585 million chip stack taking the top of the leaderboard over Gregg’s 5.68 million at the close of business on Wednesday night. Someone else who had been fighting with Watson through the course of Wednesday’s play was Vladimir Troyanovskiy, who lurked in the middle of the pack with his 5.025 million in chips, while Toby Lewis looked to add a second EPT title to his resume with his 4.665 million chip stack. Phillip McAllister (3.04 million) and Randy Kritzer (2.575 million) had nice stacks but had to get active or get left behind.
It was the shorties who got busy early as McAllister and Kritzer started the day off by throwing their chips about. For McAllister, it worked as he took an early pot off of Gregg to get a bit healthier, but not so much for Kritzer as he lost two consecutive hands to McAllister and Gregg. On Hand 8, the twosome quit playing around the table and dealt with each other in the blinds, with Kritzer raising out of the small and McAllister defending the big. What seemed to be an innocent 9♥ 6♦ Q♥ flop brought out the fireworks, however.
After a check from McAllister, Kritzer fired off 325K and McAllister pushed his roughly three million stack to the center, which Kritzer called. His Q♠ 10♣ (top pair) was ahead of McAllister’s 8♠ 7♥ (open ended straight draw), but things would get worse for Kritzer. A 4♥ came on the turn to open up a flush draw for McAllister, which came home on the 8♥ that landed on the river. After the chips were counted, Kritzer was determined to be the one at risk and he was eliminated in sixth place.
Now flush with newfound chips, McAllister got a bit frisky. Raising the button with an off suit J-8, McAllister found a welcome opponent in Watson, who called with a J-5. The flop nailed McAllister square, J-8-4, and Watson check-called a bet from McAllister. This action would repeat itself on a 7♣ and, for Watson, a 5♥ river and, once Watson saw he was behind the entire way, was dismayed to see that he had put in more than 1.5 million in chips voluntarily. Those chips allowed McAllister to take over the lead ten hands into the final table.
McAllister dominated the play over the next 80 hands, sitting as the only player over 10 million in chips, before the next elimination took place. After a tough beat when his A-J was eclipsed by Watson’s pocket Queens on a J-4-8-10-6 board, Troyanovskiy attempted to revive his stack against Gregg. On an A♣ 8♥ 4♥ flop Troyanovskiy, holding a 7♥ 3♥, looked to pull a flush out of the magician’s hat against Gregg’s A-Q. With nine outs twice, Troyanovskiy instead saw a ten and a nine – neither of them hearts – come on the turn and river to end his stay in the Bahamas in fifth place in the tournament.
Over the next 20 hands, the four men gradually drew closer to each other, McAllister coming back to the field and Gregg creeping up the leaderboard. Just before a level up, however, Gregg would get a key double in a race situation against Lewis, his pocket nines outlasting Lewis’ Big Slick, to take over the chip lead. That lead was fleeting, however, as Watson eked out a few chips from Gregg and McAllister before the break to take back the lead from Gregg.
Once Level 33 commenced, Lewis would expire. Four hands into the new level, McAllister limped in from the button and Lewis, in the small blind, read it for weakness and moved all in. He forgot about Watson in the big blind, however, who checked his cards and reshoved for his stack. McAllister slinked off to the corner and, when the hands were turned up, Lewis was in a bit of trouble.
Watson was ahead with his off suit A-J against Lewis’ K-9 (for the record, McAllister folded a 9-6), but there was drama afoot. The 10-6-3 flop was innocent enough, but the King on the turn put Lewis out in front. Looking for an Ace or a Queen to best Lewis, Watson caught lightning in a bottle when a Queen hit the river to deliver an unlikely Broadway straight and send Lewis out of the tournament in fourth place.
Watson slowly put his foot on the pedal at this point, drawing out to nearly a 2:1 lead over Gregg and almost 4:1 over McAllister within 25 hands of knocking off Lewis. Once he eliminated McAllister in third place, his 8♣ 7♣ finding a flush against McAllister’s pocket Jacks after McAllister trapped Watson pre-flop with a limp and a Watson all-in push, he kept his lead at 2:1 over Gregg, but the heads up battle would prove to be arguably the most intriguing part of the overall final table.
First, the duo struck a deal that saw Watson take home $695,325 and Gregg sew up $612,175, putting $33K aside along with the trophy to play for. They then set into a 72-hand matchup that, while Watson stayed in the lead, saw Gregg fight valiantly at several points. While he couldn’t work his way into the lead at any point, Gregg never just tossed in the towel and instead provided excellent competition all the way to the end.
On the final hand, Gregg would limp in and, after Watson checked and the 8♥ 6♥ 2♥ monochrome flop hit the table, Watson checked again. Once Gregg put a bet in, Watson sprang into action with a check raise. Reviewing the action, Gregg rechecked his cards and, after the moment of consideration, moved all in. Now it was Watson’s turn to think it over and, after he made the call, both men reluctantly turned up their cards. Gregg’s off suit A-8 was in the lead, but Watson’s 7♥ 4♠ had a wealth of redraw options (a heart for the flush, a five for the straight). More outs came for Watson when the 7♠ entered the fray on the turn and, unfortunately for Gregg, there were just too many outs in the mix; the river brought the 5♥ to bring Watson the heart flush and the victory.
1. Mike Watson, $728,325*
2. Anthony Gregg, $612,175*
3. Phillip McAllister, $356,020
4. Toby Lewis, $267,340
5. Vladimir Troyanovskiy, $207,940
6. Randy Kritzer, $153,920
7. Ken Demlakian, $110,220^
8. Timothy Ulmer, $78,540^
(* – reflects final table deal)
(^ – official EPT final table finisher, eliminated Wednesday night)
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