At a little after 9 p.m. tonight, in the Imperial Ballroom of the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, a gentle ripple of applause emanated from a makeshift television studio. For anyone accustomed to life on the international poker circuit, with ears attuned to the slight changes in timbre of applause, it told a clear story.
This peel, combining relief and jubilation with polite consolation, said that a player had been eliminated from a major tournament in ninth place, setting a final table of eight in search of a near $1.5 million first prize. The player whose walk drew this particular sonic accompaniment was Uwe Ritter, from Germany, and his departure, following 16 others before that point today, left us with our official final table for the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).
Chance Kornuth, a 28-year-old pro from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, had the biggest stack, but Pratyush Buddiga, a former spelling bee champion from Denver, Colorado, was breathing down his neck. There were three others from the United States still alive, plus one each from Peru, Argentina and Germany — the blessed waters of Brazil having belatedly drained away.
But here’s something unique, and which no round of applause could indicate: play was due to carry on, despite only eight players remaining. After last season’s epic final day, at the end of which Dominik Panka and Mike McDonald were still playing heads up as the vacuum cleaners came out in the Imperial Ballroom, tournament organisers had got the green light to extend the penultimate day.
They played for two additional hours in the bid to shed a couple more players. And in two dramatic hands, it worked. First, Dylan Linde was eliminated by Kevin Schulz, unable to win a race with A♠K♠ against pocket tens. He was out in eighth for $140,900. And then on the next hand Buddiga, who endured a wretched extended period, went from second place to second out.
He had previously doubled up Schulz and Hambitzer and then got his last chips in with A♣J♥ against the resurgent Schulz’s aces. Despite an all club flop, with a jack, Schulz faded the myriad outs and Buddiga will not be required on the tournament’s final day. His seventh place earned him $203,420.
The bleachers were now packed around the final table, with players and spectators now migrating back to the tournament room from the PokerStars party. It allowed all survivors to celebrate their success with friends — and added some drunken whoops, feet-stomping and guttural roars to the noises from the rail.
Our compact final table of six is listed below, but not before we’ve taken a look at the man who continues to lead the way.
Final day line-up for PCA 2015:
Seat 1 – Kevin Schulz, United States, 6,155,000
Seat 2 – Chance Kornuth, United States, 7,860,000
Seat 3 – Niklas Hambitzer, Germany, 3,100,000
Seat 4 – Diego Ventura, Peru, 3,980,000
Seat 5 – Rami Boukai, United States, 780,000
Seat 6 – Juan Martin Pastor, Argentina, 2,655,000
They have about 20 minutes left on the level, before moving into level 30, with blinds of 50,000-100,000 (10,000 ante).
To get us to this stage, we had to lose those other 18, and some of the biggest stacks, and the biggest reputations, would perish during the day. Eugenio Mattar, the rental car impresario from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, had amassed a fortune in chips to match his real-world fortune in his first live poker tournament. But the overnight leader played too fast and too loose and was out in 12th when his A♦J♥ lost to the A♥10♣ of Boukai.
Mayu Roca, who made the final table of the EPT Grand Final last season, couldn’t make a second major final. His pocket sevens ran into flopped trips. Shyam Srinivasan also seemed set to pull off a sensational double. Last year’s PCA finalist was close to going back-to-back, but fell in tenth, jacks losing to the A♥7♣ of Schulz.
The popular American transplant to Australia, Jim Collopy, saw his run end in 21st. And the gregarious Maurice Hawkins got a stinker of a beat to go out in 16th. (His A♦K♣ flopped a king to put him well ahead of Ambrose Ng’s A♠Q♦. But it didn’t end so well.)
The blow-by-blow reporting in the panel at the top of the Main Event page will tell all the small stories from the day until they weave into a coherent whole. You can also see who cashed for how much in the payouts tab at the top.
Along the way today, we also covered the following: Diego Ventura, chip detective, and 15 other things a newbie did not expect to see at the PCA, but did anyhow.
Tomorrow the fun will be had as the festival goes out with a bang. It will be the final of both the Main Event and the High Roller and they will play to a winner in both. Join us to see who will be holding the two trophies aloft.