After three days of play versus one of the tougher tournament fields you’ll encounter, Nick Maimone held the winner’s trophy aloft after taking down the coveted 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 High Roller. Following two lengthy days, the last day went quickly, and after a rapid heads-up duel Maimone was still moving fast, readying for a trip to the cashier’s desk and his winner photos.
He paused briefly, however. His wife had a Polaroid (not a phone, but the classic camera) and as he posed she snapped a shot, preserving the moment following his biggest live cash for just shy of seven figures — $996,480, to be precise, following a heads-up deal. Soon after that, they were both posing.
“I won some races, won some flips, and had some good spots,” said Maimone, additionally noting the toughness of the competition at this stacked final table.
A combination of timely cards and well-chosen moves helped Maimone knock out all but one of his opponents on this fast final day of play, putting the trophy in his hands by mid-evening on a balmy night in the Bahamas. Here’s the story of how that moment came to be.
The day began with Josh Beckley the chip leader by a narrow margin, and it would take an hour-and-a-half before anyone from the final nine lost his stack. Anton Astapau of Belarus found himself short enough to want to commit his chips with pocket tens, and additionally was uncomfortably sandwiched between the pocket nines of Dario Sammartino and pocket jacks of Maimone.
“I was on the button and I told myself if I have queens, kings, or aces I’m obviously calling, but if I have jacks it’s close,” said Maimone of the situation. “And I look down at jacks. It’s a critical point. It worked out beautifully.”
Indeed, the best pocket pair held, and Astapau left in ninth, a finish worth $116,640 and good enough to push his lifetime tournament earnings up over $1.4 million.
A Sunday Million champion, Heath’s eighth-place finish helps kick the year off strong following a WSOP final table and EPT11 Malta side event win in 2015.
Kornuth adds nearly another $200K to the $2.5 million in career earnings he had before entering this one, and left with a signature smile after another successful sojourn in the Bahamas.
Zaichenko began Day 3 below the average, and remained short-stacked until shoving with ace-seven and running into Maimone’s ace-jack. No help came from the board, and Zaichenko went out in sixth as a third victim in four of Maimone.
The Californian already won one title at this year’s PCA in Event #32, a $2,200 NLHE 8-handed “Win the Button” Turbo, another piece of hardware to go along with his two WSOP bracelets. And with today’s cash he adds nearly $350K to his career total, now up around $2.75M.
won a seat and playing my first high roller today/tomorrow!!!
— Joshua Beckley (@Joshua1Beckley) January 12, 2016
That made Sammertino the short stack, and with his friend and fellow high roller Mustapha Kanit railing him he battled gamely before falling in a hand to Maimone. The Italian’s king-ten couldn’t outdraw Maimone’s pocket sevens, and he was out in third.
After final-tabling both the EPT11 Grand Final €100,000 Super High Roller and the EPT11 Grand Final €25K High Roller, Sammertino adds another deep HR run to carry his career earnings up over $3 million.
Winter, a Floridian, has been on something of a high rolling hot streak of late, finishing third in a $25K event at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in August, winning a $25K event at the ARIA in October, then taking fourth in the $100K WPT Alpha8 Las Vegas last month, all helping boost his career tourney winnings over $2.4 million.
Maimone is also from the eastern U.S., hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina. He has less in live earnings that Winter — the bulk of which came from a 15th-place finish in the 2009 WSOP Main Event — but has won millions online including on PokerStars where as “FU_15” (standing for Furman University, not whatever else you were thinking) he regularly goes deep in Super Tuesdays, Sunday majors, and other big events.
Before beginning, they left for some deal talk, and after a lengthy discussion agreed to terms leaving $30K and the trophy to play for while guaranteeing $966,480 for Maimone and $914,580 for Winter.
Places paid: 31
Prize pool: $5,400,000
1. Nick Maimone (USA) $996,480*
2. Sean Winter (USA) $914,580*
3. Dario Sammertino (Italy) $542,160
4. Josh Beckley (USA) $439,560
5. Brian Yoon (USA) $347,760
6. Andrey Zaichenko (Russia) $264,060
7. Chance Kornuth (USA) $192,780
8. Ben Heath (UK) $140,940
* = denotes a two-way deal leaving $30,000 for the winner
Thanks to Carlos Monti and Joe Giron for their excellent photos from the $25K High Roller. And thanks as well to you for following our coverage of the $25K High Roller and the rest of this year’s 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. It’s not over yet! The Main Event is still ongoing — head over to the Main Event live updates page to follow that one to its exciting finish.
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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.