Despite Sunday marking the conclusion of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas, the PCA’s final day left very little on the table to be desired (literally). Stress, anguish, disbelief and liberation were all emotions that filled this ballroom in twenty- four hours, and both the $25,000 High Roller and $5,000 Bounty Shootout events were two of the main cards that drove those sentiments.
At the end of all the emotional roller-coasters, it was Will Molson who finished high- spirited with the 2011 PCA High Roller championship in his name.
Although it was unannounced, the $25K High Roller event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure has regularly conjured some of the most popular names of poker. Similar to past years, the 2011 tournament was packed with sponsored professionals around every corner and crevice. Rightfully so, considering that they’re hosting this tournament, the Team PokerStars pros were in control of the High Roller event heading into most days.
However Will Molson, who has been in this position for the past two years, certainly believed he could still win the title. Although his final table provided great difficulty and even more tension than his previous attempts, he still remained focused and determined that this title was his for the taking.
Starting the tournament with 151 players, Day 2′s tournament field was narrowed down to 90 with tournament veterans such as Vanessa Rousso, Johnny Lodden and Joe Hachem leading the way. But despite their poker celebrity, Team PokerStars pro and soon-to-be household name Jason Mercier stole the show on Day 2 claiming the notoriety and chip lead with his outstanding play.
Mercier undoubtedly had one of the most successful 2010s of any tournament pro on the circuit, with several live tournament first place finishes along with a PokerStars WCOOP title to boot.
But notwithstanding Mercier’s innate talent and tournament genius, it was the two-time runner up Molson who undoubtedly held the most experience and desire to win over all of the other remaining competitors.
Molson concluded his 2011 PCA with a heads-up battle between himself and Team PokerStars pro Leo Fernandez. Fernandez, whom entered the final table as one of the shorter stacks, was absolutely relentless in his aggression throughout heads-up play and the final table. This allowed him not only to finish as the runner-up, but also give himself a strong chance at victory with a playable chip count heading into 1-on-1 action.
Shortly after eliminations from Shander de Vries (9th) and Mercier (8th), it was time for Fernandez to spring into action as most savvy short-stacked tournament players do.
Although players always love moving up the money ladder, it’s certainly no first place prize money. And as all pro players are aware, being blinded-out in hopes of moving up patiently is not an option. Fernandez intended on winning, and his subsequent actions certainly displayed that.
Fernandez’s aggression level skyrocketed from about a 3 to a 20.2 (on an obvious scale of 1 to 10) and built a reasonable chip stack heading into three-handed play by knocking out both Matt Marafioti and David Baker.
Simultaneously, he didn’t realize his soon-to-be heads-up adversary Will Molson was climbing up in chip count as well. He was busy eliminating Dutchman Govert Metaal and Full Tilt Poker pro Erik Seidel.
Siedel then busted in 4th, and three-handed with nearly even stacks between Molson, Fernandez and Max Lykov, the discussion of a three-way chop began.
The deal, which would’ve netted each player above second-place prize money, was prevented by Fernandez. Stating it would be “better for the game” if they continued playing, the threesome played on, only to have Lykov removed from the discussion moments later.
It was after the elimination, that all drama ensued.
Molson, holding a 3:1 chip advantage over Fernandez aggressively pursued the rest of Fernandez’s chips early, although to no avail. In the hand which seemed like it would end Fernandez’s title run, Molson held against Fernandez’s . The flop came , but with the turn, Fernandez turned a set and brought up nightmares of yet another dreadful second-place finish for Molson. The terrible turn of events earned Fernandez a 3.1 million chip pot, and also an ailing opponent across the other end of the poker felt.
While he took a massive hit, Molson was still in control with 4.5 million. However, bad luck sometimes comes in bunches, and round 2 of this heavyweight fight saw Molson stumble to the canvas after Fernandez connected with yet another improbable two-pair with 9-7 off- suit versus Molson’s . All-in preflop, the board surely sent a ton of emotions through both players. Now with over 5 million in chips, Fernandez tried to use that energy to finish Molson with a final haymaker, but was unsuccessful.
Molson soon won a huge flip with against pocket fives, and then maybe as the heavens above deemed fit, he was delivered the always welcomed pocket aces. Now with over 7 million in chips in between his arms, he finally felt comfortable.
“Now I can smile,” said Molson, after winning the massive pot with A-A, and practically sealing his tournament.
Fifteen minutes later the final hand was dealt with an uneventful A-5 against J-2, and Molson quickly sprinted to his supporters in search of comfort and gratitude after his enormous victory.
He earned $1,072,850 for his title, while Fernandez gained $554,925 for second place.
At the conclusion of the Main Event, the $5,000 PCA Bounty Shootout was still running, and should hope to declare a winner as early as Monday morning.
Across the globe, the 2011 Aussie Millions tournament also finished crowning its first event’s champion, with Australian Martin Drewe earning the AUD $200,000 first place prize in the AUD $1,100 No-Limit Hold’em repechage tournament.
For those unaware, the repechage style allows players who have busted on previous Day 1s a second-chance to re-enter on a later Day One in hopes of making it to Day Two.
Familiar names Annette Obrestad, Maria Ho, Tony Dunst, James Akenhead, Richard Ashby, Scott Montgomery and Barny Boatman were all part of the event, but fell short of Day 2.
Darren “kingkramer” Kramer finished second, and earned AUD $128,220 for his efforts.
The first title down under for 2011 managed to stay within the host continent.
You can take a look at both event finishes below.
1. William Molson ($1,072,850)
2. Leo Fernandez ($554,925)
3. Max Lykov ($369,490)
4. Erik Seidel ($295,960)
5. Govert Metaal ($240,470)
6. David Baker ($203,475)
7. Matt Marafioti ($166,480)
8. Jason Mercier ($129,480)
2011 Aussie Millions $1,100 No-Limit Holdem Results:
1. Martin Drewe (AUD $200,020)
2. Darren Kramer (AUD $128,220)
3. Justin Cohen (AUD $85,220)
4. Nik Lackovic (AUD $65,220)
5. Vito Dalessandri (AUD $52,220)
6. Antoine Bechara (AUD $42,220)
7. Gabriel Xiourouppa (AUD $32,220)
8. Scott Montgomery (AUD $22,220)
9. Jonathan Palmer (AUD $15,020)
10. Isaac Lau (AUD $11,520)