In what turned out to be a rapid final table, the chances at World Poker Tour history for pros Brian Altman and Anthony Zinno were denied. Instead of seeing a name etched again on the WPT Champions’ Cup, newcomer Nitis Udornpim came off a short stack to snatch the title away and become the newest champion of the WPT at the WPT Maryland Live! Main Event on Wednesday night.
Long Way to the Top
Although he had a seat at the final table, Udornpim probably wasn’t entertaining thoughts of winning the title when he walked into the Maryland Live! tournament arena on Wednesday. With only 1.22 million in chips, only Jeffrey Colpitts (860,000) and Zinno (1.025 million) were behind him. And it was a long look up to the top of the leaderboard, where Robert McLaughlin (2.935 million), Altman (5.76 million) and chip leader Stephen Deutsch (7.975 million) looked to be the prohibitive favorites for the title.
As they say, however, that’s why they deal the cards and play the game.
The six men played out the remainder of the level with no significant action, but once it moved up to Level 26 (25K/50K, 50K big blind ante), the players began to make some moves. Udornpim actually saw his tournament life on the line against Colpitts but was able to survive when his A-J rivered an Ace against Colpitts’ pocket Kings. That hand would also severely hurt Colpitts, who was left with only 175K in chips and would go out on the next hand in sixth place when Deutsch four-flushed Colpitts’ flopped pair of Queens.
Deutsch kept his foot on the gas, taking down McLaughlin next in fifth place to crack the 10 million chip mark. Altman tried to keep pace with Deutsch, flopping a set of Queens against Zinno to move his chip stack north of the eight million mark. Altman would also try to take out Udornpim but was unable to find a hit with his A-8 against Udornpim’s pocket sixes on a 10-9-2-4-7 board.
Udornpim played the short stack very well, moving all in frequently with enough equity for his opponents to let go of meager holdings and not take him on. When they did take him on, Udornpim was ready. There was a moment of drama, however, where Udornpim was almost out of the tournament again.
On Hand 66, Udornpim committed his stack on a J-8-2 flop and got action from Altman. Both had hit the Jack with their hands, but Udornpim’s Queen kicker was in play against Altman’s weaker five kicker. That changed with a five on the turn as suddenly Altman was now sitting on Jacks up. Needing a Queen or another eight to eclipse the WPT Champions’ Cup member, Udornpim was stunned to see an eight come to counterfeit Altman’s two pair and shoot Udornpim up to 2.3 million in chips and in contention.
Winds of Change are Blowing Around
At the start of Level 27, Deutsch’s 11.37 million chips dominated Altman (5.9 million), Udornpim (1.69 million) and Zinno (915K), but the winds were about to change. Zinno got a double up through Deutsch to climb back over Udornpim, then Deutsch would double up Udornpim to give him some ammunition. Deutsch, however, would fight back in taking down Zinno in fourth place, his Big Slick outrunning Zinno’s pocket eights on an A-7-2-10-10 board.
While Deutsch and Altman danced around trying to gain an advantage, Udornpim quietly crept up on the duo. He passed Altman in an all-in situation, his A-K catching Altman’s pocket Jacks on the river King, to reach 4.8 million in chips and put Altman in third with 3.25 million. Udornpim on the very next hand would finish off Altman, coolering him with pocket Aces after Altman moved all in with pocket Queens to send Altman out in third place.
Deutsch held slightly less than a three million chip lead over Udornpim at the start of heads up play and both men were surprised to be there. At the start of action, Udornpim remarked (according to the WPT Live Updates), “Steve, buddy…I can’t say that I thought this was going to happen.” “Me either, but I’m glad it is,” Deutsch responded, and the two did seem to enjoy the battle of the remaining $500,000-plus in prize money more than what your usual final duo would.
Udornpim would take the lead from Deutsch about ten hands into heads up action, but the battle would be a lengthy one. It took over 130 hands for the champion to be determined but, when the final hand came, it was decided rather quickly. Udornpim put the pressure on from the button with an all-in move and Deutsch called, showing a K♠ 9♠ to go against Udornpim’s A-3 off suit. The flop virtually ended all discussion – 5-4-2 rainbow – to give Udornpim a wheel but leave some chance for Deutsch with a runner-runner flush draw. That draw was enhanced with a 4♠ on the turn, but the Queen on the river was a red one and Deutsch was done in second place as the title went to Udornpim.
1. Nitis Udornpim, $319,415
2. Stephen Deutsch, $202,905
3. Brian Altman, $149,515
4. Anthony Zinno, $111,415
5. Robert McLaughlin, $83,970
6. Jeffrey Colpitts, $64,020