by Brad Willis and Howard Swains
With flashbulbs popping in his eyes, fans high-fiving him from every direction, and beautiful women sidling up to his hip, Harrison Gimbel has no problem describing how he feels after winning the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
"I feel like a young rock star," he said.
He is, in fact, the youngest of stars to ever win this seven-year old sun-drenched poker contest. At nineteen years old, Gimbel takes over as the youngest PCA champion in history. Five days ago, we introduced you to him as he cracked Barry Greenstein's aces with six-four offsuit, all-in pre-flop. Today, he can hold a trophy and millions above his head.
Gimbel (aka gibler321) is an online grinder for the most part, but was confident going into this final table. A one-time high school wrestler, Gimbel recalled his coach once telling him to see victory in his head.
"One of the things my coach always used to say was to envision something and it will come true," Gimbel said.
The winner of a $1,000 live satellite here at the PCA, Gimbel parlayed a seat into $2.2 million, a result that few poker pros will ever see.
Gimbel very well could've been the first player out. It took less than 15 minutes of play before the first giant pot of the final table developed. It happened when Ryan D'Angelo came in for a raise and Harrison Gimbel re-raised to 650,000. D'Angelo wasted no time re-raising to 1.3 million. Gimbel pushed all-in for 5,085,000 and D'Angelo called with barely a moment of thought. The hands:
The flop 3♥Q♥A♠ dashed D'Angelo's hopes. "Nice hand," he said. The turn and river, A♣ and K♣ were no better for the man known as "g0lfa." Gimbel raked in more than 11 million chips and took over D'Angelo's two-day hold on the chip lead. He would not hold it for long.
Just a few minutes later, a queens versus aces battle would change everything. Less than 24 hours before, Ty Reiman had cracked John Duthie's aces with a pair of queens. Today, Reiman held aces in his hand and got them all-in pre-flop against Thomas Koral's queens. Believers in karma might have suggested that today was the day Reiman got paid back for what he did to Duthie. Instead, fate looked on him nicely and put out a board of 6♣T♣6♦J♣K♥. The hand helped Reiman take over the chip lead and sent Koral out in 8th place for $201,300.
The level passed, the blinds moved up to 60,000/120,000/15,000, and the players took their seats again. With the first player gone, the action picked up. When Reiman came in for a raise to 280,000, short-stacked Zachary Goldberg moved all-in for 1,530,000. That's when Aage Ravn move all-in over the top for more than three million. Reiman chose to sit this one out and we saw the two hands on their backs. Ravn held A♠Q♦ to Goldberg's T♠T♦. When the flop came out 8♥J♠K♥, the only thing that changed was Ravn's number of outs. Before he had time to count them, hit hit the A♥ on the turn. Goldberg missed on the river and went out in seventh place for $300,000.
Not content to let the little one-on-one action rule the day, the players next engaged in a monster three-way all-in. When Barry Shulman came in for a raise to 300,000, Ben Zamani quickly re-raised all-in for his last 1,450,000. But, no, that would not do as far as Aage Ravn was concerned. He announced that, he too, was all-in. Enough? Not quite. Harrison Gimbel asked for a count, learning soon that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of three million. Guess what? Gimbel was all-in, too. Shulman figured his ace-ten was no good and got out of the way. Here's what the hands looked liked when they were turned over.
The second card we saw was the one that mattered. On a flop of 5♣8♠7♦, Zamani jumped out to a huge lead, one he would not give him up. The turn and the river did Ravn no good for the side pot and he was out in sixth place for $450,000.
If you've read this far, you know that two-time WCOOP winner Ryan D'Angelo lost his first major pot of the final table with pocket jacks. The first time, it cut his chip stack in half. The second time, it sent him out in fifth place. After Zamani open raised, Reiman made it 995,000 to play and D'Angelo pushed all-in for 6,750,000. Zamani got out of the way. Reiman did not. D'Angelo's J♥J♠ was up against Reiman's A♠K♥ and the flop was good for D'Angelo: 4♣9♥3♣. The 5♥ on the turn gave Reiman even more outs, but he stuck with the ones he had to start and hit the K♦ on the river. D'Angelo was gone.
Play slowed down for a bit after that, but with three shortish stacks, we knew it wouldn't last forever. Zamani and Gimbel had been at each other all day. It was only fitting that one would do in the other. It happened when Zamani opened for 400,000, and Gimbel moved all-in. Zamani had 5,715,000 in front of him and thought for a good three minutes before calling. Finally, he put in his chips and turned over A♥T♦, a race with Gimbel's 8♣8♥.
The drama was short lived. An an eight came in the door on a 8♠5♠6♥ flop. A 7♣ on the turn offered a little more excitement, but the J♣ on the river sent Zamani, the last PokerStars qualifier in the bunch, out in fourth place for a million bucks.
Zamani's exit left Barry Shulman as the only stack with a target attached. He managed to double up a couple of times, but a bluff gone wrong against Reiman left Shulman with a stack short enough to button-shove with Q♣T♠. Gimbel called him from the big blind with A♥9♦. Shulman never caught up and went out in third place for $1,350,000. This is the second time in four months the Card Player magazine publisher has won more than a $1 million playing cards (the other came back in October when he won the World Series of Poker Europe).
The players went into heads-up play with Reiman leading with approximately 28 million chips to Gimbel's 17 million.
The first major swing came after approximately 25 minutes. Gimbel opened with a raise to 600,000 and Reiman made it 1,675,000. Gimbel called and they saw a flop of 2♦A♣8♥. Both players checked. The 7♠ came on the turn and Reiman check-called Gimbel's bet of 2,200,000. The river was the 3♠ and Reiman now check-called a bet of 4,700,000. Gimbel showed A♦5♥ and Reiman mucked. With that, Gimbel went up to about 28,000,000 with Reiman down to about 17,000,000.
Later, Reiman played a hand in which he flopped the stone cold nuts, an eight-high straight that developed into a pot worth more than 12 million. The river put a flush on board and Gimbel check-raised Reiman out of the pot. Gimbel told Reiman later that he only held ace-four, good for only a small pair. From there, Gimbel was in complete control.
Though there would be some minor swings back and forth, Gimbel would never give up the chip lead. On the final hand, Reiman came in for a raise to 620,000 and Harrison Gimbel re-raised to 1.8 million. Reiman did not take long before announcing he was all-in. Gimbel asked for a count. It was somewhere in the neighborhood of ten million. Gimbel shrugged and called.
Reiman's crowd did not give up. They screamed "one time." They implored the poker fates to do something to help their man out of a jam. The flop, T♦6♦2♥ did not deliver for Reiman's fans. Still they screamed for that elusive one time.
In point of fact, they needed it twice. Reiman required runner-runner to get there. The turn gave him the a chance, The 8♥ renewed the "one time" cries. Under the crush of the screaming, it was almost impossible to hear the river card announced over the PA.
The picture on the screen above the table told the story. It showed the J♠ on the river. With that, Harrison Gimbel became the newest and youngest-ever PCA champion, winning $2.2 million. Reiman's runner-up finish earned him $1,750,000.
The procession of interviewers could barely squeeze a response from a bitterly disappointed Tyler Reiman, who admitted he was "feeling a lot of things" and would reassess tomorrow. Although he confessed the $1,750,000 was a "nice" consolation, he was ruing one hand in particular, likely the big fold with the eight-high straight. "There's a hand I know if I called I won," he said.
Meanwhile, the crowd bounced Gimbel from one pretty blonde presenter to another in a series of interviews that will no doubt go on forever.
"This is what I've deamt of. I've always wanted to win a big major tournamet and fortunately I won one of my first ones," Gimbel said. "I was never in doubt. I felt my opponents were really good, but I had a lot of confidence of myself going into today and it really showed."
With $2.2 million Gimbel can now buy himself any amount of confidence he'll need going forward, at least enough to hold him until he turns 21.
We hope you've enjoyed the coverage for the past week. If you'd like to see any of it, you can click through any of the following links. Here's a complete list of 2010 PCA winners.
This was a final table dominated by Americans (with a Norwegian kicker, of course), but we still reported all the action in a variety of languages, including Go Swedish,German, Italian, Spanish and our Brazilian's Portuguese.
Many thanks to Neil Stoddart for providing final table photos, as well as photographer Joe Giron for his tireless service during the whole of the main event.
Normally this would be the point at which we wish you a happy goodbye from the PCA. Instead, we invite you to keep an eye on the PCA High Roller and World Cup of Poker continuing this week. The Main Event may be over, but we're here until the end.
Once again, congratulations to Harrison Gimbel for his 2010 PCA Main Event victory.