While many in the poker world were viewing the action from the World Series of Poker final table on ESPN, the World Poker Tour looked to crown its latest champion at the World Poker Finals on Tuesday night. The six players remaining had waded their way through the other 406 players who had come to grasp the WPT crown, but only these men would have the opportunity to take home the honor of that championship:
Seat 1: Seven time WPT final table player David “The Dragon” Pham – 2,038,000
Seat 2: WSOP Heads Up semifinalist Jonathan Jaffe – 4,131,000
Seat 3: Defending WPT Player of the Year Jonathan Little – 2,021,000
Seat 4: First time WPT player Charles Marchese – 1,718,000
Seat 5: Pro player Jack Schanbacher – 1,592,000
Seat 6: Three time WSOP bracelet winner Mike Matusow – 845,000
The action started slowly at the final table, which was a direct departure from the pace of action over the previous week at Foxwoods. The players felt each other out over the first 20 hands before the first significant action took place.
Jack Schanbacher doubled through the chip leader Jonathan Jaffe on hand #19 when Shanbacher, with A-Q, paired his queen on the flop against Jaffe’s pocket fives. Three hands later, Mike Matusow took his shot with his short stack against Jaffe as well. The A-J of “The Mouth” would have to outrun the pocket eights of Jaffe and, after an innocuous Q-3-2-5 flop and turn, Jaffe was a huge favorite. A jack on the river provided a tremendous jolt to the crowd and drew one of Full Tilt Poker’s favorite sons back into the game.
The double hit against Jaffe didn’t affect him much as he continued to hold the chip lead. He was able to get some of the chips back against Schanbacher and continued to show that he was willing to take some risks at the table. It would be another approximately 20 hands before the first player would leave the table.
After Jonathan Little popped it up to 125K, Mike Matusow moved his nearly one million in chips towards the center. The stoic Little took a moment to assess the situation before making the call and tabling his pocket nines against Matusow’s A-J. Remarking, “I love this hand, boys,” Matusow probably didn’t love it as much, as the run of the board didn’t bring a saving ace or jack, sending him away from the table in sixth place.
Schanbacher was the next to leave the table after he moved all in from under the gun and was called by David “The Dragon” Pham. While the crowd was ready for a showdown between the two, Little emerged from the big blind with a re-raise. Pham folded pocket tens face up and was rewarded for his play by Little displaying pocket Queens. Schanbacher was totally dominated as he could only muster 9-8 suited and, when no miracles came on the board, Schanbacher was done in fifth and Little took the chip lead.
For all of his experience, David Pham was never able to find any hand to work with. “The Dragon” steadily bled chips and, on Hand #68, found himself all in against Charles Marchese. Pham’s pocket deuces held the lead against Marchese’s K-J pre-flop, but a jack on the flop spelled the end for the veteran poker professional. When the turn and river didn’t provide another deuce, Pham was done in third place.
Once play was three-handed, the pros began to exert their influence on the table. Jaffe, who had the chip lead, and Little began to take pots and left Charles Marchese in their wake. It took nearly 40 hands to do it, but the two pros ground Marchese down and, on hand #105, Marchese moved all in after a Little raise. “FieryJustice” wasted little time in calling with pocket queens against Marchese’s A-J. Once the flop and turn teased the crowd with a potential flush draw for Marchese, the river blanked and the lone amateur left was done in third place.
Jaffe held a 6:5 chip lead once heads up play commenced, but the battle that the twosome went through to get to this point would be nothing like their heads-up duel. Over the next 100 hands, Jaffe would pull out to a dominant lead, only to see Little pull himself back up and take the lead himself. Then Little would drop back through a double up by Jaffe and the fight would continue. The duo would continue their mano y mano battle deep into the morning, as they set a record for the longest heads up contest in WPT history.
At the 170th hand of heads up play – which, together with the previous play at the table, surpassed the total number of hands that had ever been played in a WPT final table history – Little and Jaffe came to the final hand. After Little had made a raise, Jaffe fired the remainder of his stack with A-10 to show for it. “FieryJustice” made the call and dominated Jaffee with A-Q. Once the board blanked off, Jonathan Little had secured his second World Poker Tour title with the final table payouts as such:
1st: Jonathan Little – $1,120,310
2nd: Jonathan Jaffe – $670,636
3rd: Charlie Marchese – $337,256
4th: David Pham – $240,344
5th: Jack Schanbacher – $182,196
6th: Mike Matusow – $124,048