Battling through the largest ever tournament in the history of Canadian poker, California’s Taylor Black was able to vanquish veteran poker professional Daryll Fish to capture the championship of the partypoker MILLIONS North America last night.
Before the final table of the tournament started on Wednesday, the partypoker MILLIONS North America was already one for the history books. Five Day Ones allowed for a grand total of 1954 entries to stream through the Playground Poker Club in Montreal, Quebec. While that was a massive number – and broke the record for the largest poker tournament in Canadian history – it came up short of the guarantee (2000 players were needed to break that).
The final nine gentlemen who gathered on Wednesday weren’t caring that the guarantee wasn’t met, they were looking for their piece of the pie. Leading the way at the start of action on Wednesday was World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner Anthony Ruberto, who sat on a massive stack of 409 million chips. Black was in second at the start of the penultimate day of action with 406 million and it was a distance back to the remainder of the nine-player field. Tommy Nguyen (327 million), George Lagos (220 million), Markus Prinz (212 million), Fish (152.5 million), Guillaume Nolet (110 million), Demosthenes Kiriopoulos (74 million) and Charles La Boissonniere (45 million) rounded out the field looking to challenge for the championship.
Black wasted little time in making his move, picking up a good pot against Nolet and Lagos to jump into the lead only a half-hour into the action. Nolet, in fact, went in reverse from the starting gun, doubling up Fish when his Jacks couldn’t catch Fish’s Aces. On the very next hand, Nolet pushed his remaining 52 million chips to the center with only an 8♥ 6♥ and was looked up by the pocket Jacks of Ruberto on the button. After an A-3-3-A flop and turn (and a cruel eight on the river), Nolet was drawing dead and heading to the exit in ninth place (officially not a member of the OFFICIAL eight-man final table).
With Black still in the lead, the final eight men ripped through the final table action. Black kept his foot on the gas through the day’s action, knocking off Nguyen (eighth), Kiriopoulos (sixth) and Ruberto (third) to reach the 1.5 billion chip mark. Meanwhile, Fish worked his way up the ladder by mostly staying out of the way. He did pick up some chips in taking out Prinz in fourth place, however, but it was just enough to go to heads up action with around 533 million in chips.
Holding almost three times the chips of his opponent, Black watched as Fish drew the stacks closer together over the span of a couple of hours. At one point, Fish drew within 200 million chips of taking the honor of the chip lead. Just as it appeared that the tide was turning, the end came in a stunning two hands that saw all the chips swing over to Black.
On the first hand, Fish pushed out an opener of 50 million while holding A-10 off suit and Black three-bet him to 170 million with a suited K-6. Fish called the bet to see a Q-Q-J flop, enticing Black to fire away for 140 million from out of position and another Fish call. A nine on the turn opened several options (Fish an open-ended straight draw with an over card to the board, Black a gut shot straight draw with an over card – the King – that, if hit, would have left him drawing dead), but both players slowed down in going check-check. A second nine missed both men and kept Fish in the lead, but Black chose the perfect moment for aggression. He moved all in to put Fish to the test for his tournament life and Fish took a good moment to consider the situation. In the end, Fish believed the story that Black was telling and laid down his winning Ace kicker to give the sizeable pot (520 million) to Black’s inferior (but winning) King kicker.
The end would come moments later. After another Fish raise to 45 million and a Black reraise to 140 million, Fish called off and saw the 9-6-4 flop. Once again, Black led out post-flop and Fish powered over the top with an all-in move of his own. Without a moment’s hesitation, Black made the call and slapped pocket Aces on the felt. Fish could only muster a Q-9 for a pair of nines that, after a six on the turn and a Queen on the river, became two pair. Fish’s Queens up were inferior to Black’s Aces up, however, as the entirety of the pot and the championship were pushed to Black.
1. Taylor Black, $1,400,000*
2. Daryll Fish, $1,200,000
3. Anthony Ruberto, $1,000,000
4. Markus Prinz, $800,000
5. Charles La Boissonniere, $600,000
6. Demosthenes Kiriopoulos, $400,000
7. George Lagos, $302,500
8. Tommy Nguyen, $215,000
(ninth place finisher Nolet received $150,000, but was not officially at the final table)
(* – Canadian dollars)
With the partypoker MILLIONS North America in the books, the folks at partypoker LIVE are going to be taking a bit of a break. The next event on the 2018 schedule isn’t until August, when the partypoker MILLIONS Russia in Sochi takes the stage. After that, there are only two more stops, the partypoker MILLIONS UK and the partypoker Caribbean Poker Party, that will wrap up the extremely successful 2018 season for the burgeoning tournament schedule.