The inaugural Poker Masters is in full swing this weekend, wrapping up the second of its five-event schedule on Friday night. In Event #2, a $50,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event, Germany’s Steffen Sontheimer captured the victory and the overall lead on the Poker Masters “Player of the Series” race.
50 entrants had been whittled down to the final seven on Friday afternoon, with two men making their second trip to a final table in as many events. Not only was Sontheimer on the felt, but Spain’s Adrian Mateos joined the final seven as well. Those two men were mired in the middle of the pack to start the final day, however, as Christian Christner, Fedor Holz and Tom Marchese were all over a million chips each. Behind them, 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth and current Player of the Year leader Bryn Kenney tried to get into the game.
Kenney was the first to depart the festivities only 20 minutes into the day. Pushing off the button for his remaining 350K in chips, Kenney was looked up by Sontheimer in the “sheriff” role. Kenney got his chips in good, his pocket sixes running against Sontheimer’s A-7 off suit, but it wasn’t to be. An Ace fell on the flop and, looking for one of the final two sixes in the deck, Kenney instead saw a Jack (that increased Kenney’s chances of survival to a Broadway straight for the chop) on the turn and a five on the river that sent him to the rail in seventh place.
Sontheimer continued his offensive in taking down Mateos next. Once again, Mateos got it in good with pocket sevens, but Sontheimer’s A-Q once again found an Ace on the flop. After a Jack and a nine completed the board, Mateos was out the door in sixth place and Sontheimer was the new chip leader with almost two million chips.
Christner could never find any traction at the final table. His stack slowly bled through his fingers and, although he did double through Sontheimer at one point, it only served to redistribute the chips around the table. On his final hand, Christner found pocket Jacks to his liking and made his stand by going to the races against Holz’s Big Slick. All the drama was removed again when an Ace came on the flop and, after no Knave came on the turn or river, Christner was out in fifth place and Holz took over the chip lead.
For his part, Hellmuth was a placid lake during his stay at the final table. That was probably because he didn’t have anything to play, pushing his short stack to the center with an A-10 off suit that he knew would be racing at the minimum. Marchese, another player who was quiet for the duration of the final table, found his one moment in the sun in calling Hellmuth’s all in with pocket sixes. A six on the flop shot Hellmuth down immediately and, once the turn was dealt, Hellmuth was out. After the formality of the river completed the board, Hellmuth was out in fourth and off to Event #3 on the Poker Masters schedule.
Marchese was shot down only 20 minutes after his elimination of Hellmuth and, as seemed to be the case for the majority of the all-ins at the final table, Marchese led pre-flop. His A♠ J♠ led Holz’s A♣ 10♣ before the flop spoke; when it came down 7♣ J♣ 9♣, all discussion ended as Holz flopped the stone nuts and Marchese began packing his bags, eliminated in third place.
When heads up play began, it was thought to be a formality. Holz’s 5.444 million chip stack dwarfed that of Sontheimer (810K), but 30 minutes of action saw Sontheimer pull his way back into the match, 2.56 million chips to Holz’s 3.69 million. Sontheimer clawed his way into the lead by bluffing Holz off a hand and, once in the driver’s seat, refused to give up the steering wheel.
On the final hand, Holz made a minimal raise and was met with an all-in from Sontheimer. Holz called off his stack and showed a K-J off suit for battle, normally good except when it runs into an A-J, which is what Sontheimer held. The seven high, four club board saw Sontheimer improve to the nut flush against Holz’s second nut flush, ending the tournament in Sontheimer’s favor.
1. Steffen Sontheimer, $900,000
2. Fedor Holz, $550,000
3. Tom Marchese, $300,000
4. Phil Hellmuth, $200,000
5. Christian Christner, $175,000
6. Adrian Mateos, $150,000
7. Bryn Kenney, $125,000
(Dan Shak, eliminated eighth on Thursday night, collected $100,000 for his finish)
With the win, Sontheimer seizes control of the “Player of the Series” race. The win, plus his $1.104 million in earnings during the 2017 Poker Masters schedule, puts him in first place on the leaderboard. With three events to go, however, it is still anyone’s Poker Masters Purple Jacket to grab onto.