Utilizing his huge chip lead at the start of final table play, Marvin Rettenmaier emerged as the victor at the World Poker Tour Championship late Saturday night, albeit not without some drama along the way.
The six men who would vie for one of the most prestigious championships on the WPT schedule started action right on time at 4PM (Pacific Time) on Saturday afternoon and – for five of them at least – it was going to be a tough fight. Rettenmaier held nearly half the chips in play, with a 4.2 million advantage over second place Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, and the question seemed to be whether anyone could mount an offensive to take down the Team PartyPoker pro. With fairly deep stacks (only Philippe Ktorza, sitting at 895K, was in immediate danger), the sextet of men settled in to determine who would walk away the champion.
Ktorza attempted to make up some of his chip deficiencies by being very active in the early going, while Nick Schulman would cut some of the monster stack of Rettenmaier down within a half hour of the opening bell. The players worked through the first level of the day like pugilists in the opening rounds of a boxing match, jabbing and weaving to feel out where their opponents were on this day.
Immediately following the first break, the first player would take the long walk out of the Bellagio short of the championship. Trevor Pope had slipped down the leaderboard (after the activity of Ktorza) to become the short stack and he found an opening he felt he had to take. Pope moved all in from the button, attempting to force the blinds to fold, but instead found a taker in Ktorza from the small blind. After a Mizrachi big blind fold, Ktorza tabled his strong pocket Jacks against Pope’s A-3 off suit.
The flop brought some interest, Q-5-2 with two clubs, opening up straight and backdoor flush draws for Pope. The turn increased the drama with a Jack of clubs that gave a set to Ktorza but still held hope for Pope. Once an innocent eight of hearts came on the river, however, Trevor Pope was out of the WPT Championship in sixth place.
Now down to five, the players would take almost another thirty hands before the next man fell. After a raise from Mizrachi and a three bet from Rettenmaier, Steve O’Dwyer made his final stand by moving all in. Mizrachi was unfazed, pushing in his remaining 2.1 million chips and, stunningly, Rettenmaier made the call. Mizrachi was ahead of both his opponents (holding A-K) with his pocket tens and, once the board ran out Jack high, O’Dwyer was out in fifth place and Mizrachi captured the chip lead.
That lead was short lived, however, as Mizrachi first gave some chips to Schulman and then donated some back to Rettenmaier. By the time that the foursome had reached the next break, Rettenmaier had once again reassumed the chip lead by slightly more than three million chips over Schulman, while Mizrachi and Ktorza waited for their opportunities.
Ktorza would be the first to strike, getting a key double up through Schulman, to push Mizrachi to the basement of the table. As the players passed the 100 hand mark, Rettenmaier would only extend his lead by eliminating Schulman in fourth place after his pocket eights stood up to Schulman’s A-5. At the beginning of Level 29, Rettenmaier dominated Mizrachi and Ktorza, holding 11 million in chips to Ktorza’s two million and Mizrachi’s 1.5 million.
Ktorza went on the attack following the break, doubling up twice through Rettenmaier to draw almost even in chips with the German pro. Rettenmaier would strike back, though, in eliminating Mizrachi from the tournament with an A-10 against “The Grinder’s” pocket threes. An Ace on the flop was all that was necessary, but a ten with that flop, another ten on the turn and another Ace on the river added insult to injury in dismissing Mizrachi from the tournament in third place.
Down to heads up, it was still anyone’s tournament to take. Rettenmaier held a two million chip lead over Ktorza and, almost immediately, Ktorza went on the offensive. Five hands into the action, Ktorza had assumed the chip lead and it appeared that Rettenmaier was on the ropes. Within a dozen hands, Ktorza had taken a nearly 3/1 lead over his opponent and it appeared that Ktorza would make a stunning “basement to penthouse” run to take the WPT Championship.
Ktorza never could find the coup de grace to close the deal, however. Rettenmaier found a key double up to draw even in the match after 150 final table hands and, ten hands later, was able to cripple Ktorza when his 8-3 hit two pair on the flop against Ktorza. The drama wasn’t over yet as, over the next three hands, Ktorza doubled up each time to pull back into the match. As the players passed the seven hour mark at the final table, they were almost at the same point as when they started heads up play.
On Hand 180, Ktorza once again doubled up through Rettenmaier, his pocket eights holding against Rettenmaier’s A-J, to once again push Rettenmaier to the brink. This time, though, it was Rettenmaier who made the stunning comeback, doubling up on Hand 190 to retake the lead. Four hands later, the tournament was over and in classic fashion.
After a min-raise from Rettenmaier, Ktorza pushed his over six million chip stack to the center for the final showdown. Rettenmaier called almost immediately, turning up his pocket Kings against Ktorza’s pocket Jacks. The board ran out A-9-3-10-A to crown Marvin Rettenmaier as the tenth victor of the WPT Championship.
1. Marvin Rettenmaier, $1,196,858
2. Philippe Ktorza, $805,310
3. Michael Mizrachi, $424,618
4. Nick Schulman, $256,235
5. Steve O’Dwyer, $192,176
6. Trevor Pope, $155,571
With his WPT Championship victory firmly in his pocket, Rettenmaier has made a statement that he should be a player to watch for the coming WSOP (if he already didn’t have that accolade). Ktorza’s charge to the runner up position was definitely impressive and Mizrachi, Schulman and O’Dwyer have shown that their games are in shape for the upcoming WSOP marathon.
With the conclusion of the WPT Championship, the tenth season of the tour is in the books. The WPT will kick back into action in August at the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic and the first stop on American soil will be at the WPT Parx Open Poker Classic in Bensalem, PA, in mid-August. For now, however, it is time to celebrate another excellent season on the WPT and its new World Champion, Marvin Rettenmaier, and its Player of the Year, Joe Serock.