Frederic Normand parlayed a $580 satellite win into a World Poker Tour title as he won the WPT bestbet Scramble in Jacksonville, Florida on Tuesday for what was easily the biggest cash of his career. The $351,650 first prize was about double his previous career best.
That previous best came in what was a bittersweet summer for Normand. He finished fifth in a $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event at the 2023 World Series of Poker, scoring $177,732. He also came in 11th in a $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em freezeout event for $44,823.
And while those are fantastic results, ones that Normand certainly appreciates, only coming close to the ultimate prize in multiple WSOP tournaments is still a tough pill to swallow.
“I think I’m playing good lately. I’m taking my time more,” Normand said in his postgame interview. “But yeah, it felt a bit sour after this summer. Obviously, I can’t complain with the good scores, but it feels like redemption time.”
So there the Canadian was again, making a deep run in a significant tournament. He entered the six-handed final table of the WPT bestbet Scramble Main Event second in chips with 5 million, behind only Heng Zhang, who had 5.780 million.
It didn’t take long for the first elimination, as short stack Brian Senie bowed out in sixth place on the tenth hand, his K-J against Normand’s K-Q.
Ian O’Hara, who was the second-shortest stack going into the final table, was next to go after he just couldn’t find any footing. The chips went in on a flop of Q-T-4, Zhang with K-T and O’Hara with 6-4. Zhang’s better pair held up and that was it for O’Hara.
Normand, already doing well, significantly improved a couple hands later, when he and Michael Frierson got into a raising war pre-flop, with Frierson eventually all-in with A-Q and quickly called by Normand, who had Kings. There wasn’t even really a sweat for Frierson and he was eliminated in fourth place. Normand took his stack to 10.485 million, good for the chip lead.
It took 34 hands to get to that point, but another 35 to get to heads-up. On Hand 69, Toby Boas shoved for just under a million chips, holding A-4 pre-flop. Normand called with Q-J suited. Boas paired his 4, but Normand nailed a Queen on the river to take the pot and eliminate Boas.
Entering heads-up play, Zhang was leading, 10.200 million to 8.050 million.
The lead switched a couple times as neither player could distance himself from the other for a while. In fact, after Hand 99, the game was exactly tied. But Normand hit a couple big hands shortly after the chip counts were knotted up to build his stack up to over 13 million.
And then, on Hand 110, it was all over. Normand raised to 400,000 pre-flop and Zhang called. Both checked all the way to the turn, at which point the board read 8♣-7♦-5♠-A♦. Zhang checked, Normand bet 750,000, and then Zhang moved all-in for 4.675 million.
Normand pondered his decision, using a time chip in the process, before making the call with A♠-4♥, good for top pair and a gutshot straight draw. Zhang was behind but had a lot of outs. He held T♦-6♦, giving him both a flush draw and open-ended straight draw.
The river produced the 6♥, stoning Zhang’s draws and giving Frederic Normand his first World Poker Tour title.
2023 World Poker Tour bestbet Scramble Main Event – Final Table Results
- Frederic Normand – $351,650
- Heng Zhang – $226,700
- Toby Boas – $166,800
- Michael Frierson – $123,900
- Ian O’Hara – $92,900
- Brian Senie – $70,400