It was ten in the morning, earlier than most real poker players like to see the sun and earlier than they like to hold cards in their hand--unless they've been awake all night and are still in the middle of a great session. TV production crew members bounced back and forth from camera to monitor. Putting together a piece of television and making sure the integrity of a multi-million dollar poker game is not without its stress.
Somehow, the most relaxed people on the Atlantis Dragon Deck were the six players who stood to gain the most from the event. Millions of dollars were at stake at the final table of the 2006 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Only a few minutes stood between the six players and the action.
Seat One: Steve Paul-Ambrose ($1,780,000)
Seat Two: David Singer ($2,535,000)
Seat Three: Brook Lyter ($875,000)
Seat Four: Michael Higgins ($794,000)
Seat Five: Anders Henrikkson ($1,033,000)
Seat Six: Aurangzeb (Ozzy 87) Sheikh ($231,000)
(Click here for biographies on each player)
The 2006 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Final Table
The view from the Dragon Deck
On the very first hand of final table play, with the blinds at $10,000/$20,000/$1000, Steve Paul-Ambrose came in for a raise to $65,000 under the gun. The rest of the table folded around to Sheikh in the big blind. After a moment of consideration, Sheikh moved in for the rest of his stack. Paul-Ambrose called for the additional $164,000 and grimaced when he saw Sheikh's two black aces. Steve held a pair of sevens. For ten tense seconds, it looked like Ozzy would double up on the very first hand. Instead, the door card on the flop was a seven and an ace never came. In a history-making WPT moment, the crowd saw the first-ever first hand all-in, call, and elimination. It came at Ozzy's expense. For his sixth place finish, he earned $177,200.
Aurangzeb (Ozzy 87) Sheikh
Steve: 2, 025,000
Brook: 1, 222,000
Four hands into the new level, Anders Henrikkson came in for a raise to $90,000 under the gun. Everyone folded to the blinds, where Brook Lyter called in the small blind and Michael Higgins folded his big blind. The flop came out Q62 with two clubs. Brook checked and Anders fired out a $150,000 bet. After asking for a count, Brook moved all in. Anders fell deep into the tank. The members of the audience who had seen Anders think for 11 minutes before calling in a similar situation with ace-high waited to see what he would do. After just a couple of minutes, Anders announced, "Call." Brook flipped over pocket aces, Anders showed KQ, and the board improved neither player. Anders was eliminated in fifth place, earning $239,900.
Steve: $1.75 million
David: $2.367 million
Brook: $2.4 million
Two hands later, Steve took a $1.1 million pot from David Singer after rivering two pair with J9 on a AJ4/8/9 board. That hand moved Steve into the chip lead.
Many hands would pass before the aciton again got wild. This time, Michael Higgins came in for a raise to $100,000. The players folded around to Brook who called from the big blind. The flop came down KT9 with two hearts. Brook, the man voted most likely to slow-play and check-raise, checked and Michael moved all-in. Brook instantly called. Micahel showed AQ to Brook's K9. When the turn came as a queen, Michael needed a jack, queen, or ace on the river to win the hand. Instead, the four of clubs fell and Michael was eliminated in in fourth place. He took home $327,100.
Steve: $2.3 million
David: $2.1 million
Brook: $2.8 million
For the next hour, Steve Paul-Ambrose went on a massive tear, accumulating chips with aggressive play and good calls. He had chipped up and had a 2-1 chip lead on second place. The electricity went out and came back on 50 minutes later. It appeared as though Ambrose would wrap up the event in time for a late afternoon snack. Then came the biggest hand of the tournament so far.
David came in for a raise to $150,000 from the button. Both Brook and Steve called from the blinds. The flop came down as an innocuous 964 rainbow. Both Brook and Steve checked and Singer bet out $325,000. Brook quickly folded, but Steve thought he might have the best hand. After some thought, he moved all in. Now it was time for David to think. Finally, seeming resigned to a third-place finish, he called. Steve turned over K9 for top-pair, king kicker. David shook his head and turned over T9.
With three outs to save him, David watch the dealer peel off an eight and open up four more outs. Now, David could win with any ten or any seven. The crowd waited and watched as the dealer peeled off...a seven, giving David the runner-runner straight and a $4.1 million pot.
Perhaps it was a good thing for Steve that the blind levels again went up, for it gave him a chance to take a breather and collect himself. He had just gone from looking like he would knock out Singer and have so big a chip lead he couldn't lose, to now looking like he'd be lucky to finish second. The chip counts had just shifted in a massive way:
Steve: $2.3 million
David: $4.1 million
With the blinds at $40,000/$80,000/$10,000, the players came back from break and, at least from the audience's perspective, it looked like Steve was still steaming. On the very first hand back from break, Steve doubled Brook up with 77 versus Brook's KK.
After a few hands, it looked like Steve was settling down, until the following hand happened.
Steve came in for a raise to $200,000 from the button and only David called. The flop came out A87 with two diamonds. David checked, Steve bet out $500,000, then David raised it to make it $1.5 million straight. Steve, looking like he was in pain, finally announced he'd put the rest of his chips in the middle, showing K2 of diamonds. David showed A9. The turn was a non-diamond ace, which not only didn't help Steve, but took away one of his diamond outs. With one card to come, Steve had seven outs.
The four of diamonds fell on the river to double-up Steve. Steve and David had both sucked out on each other and were again even.
Ten hands later, it was time for Brook to emerge from the pack. From the small blind, Brook made it $300,000 to go. Steve called from the big blind and they saw a flop of 862 rainbow. Steve bet $400,000 into the flop. Brook let out a giant Hollywood sigh, and then called. The dealer turned the queen of clubs and again Brook checked. This time, Steve bet $500,000. The trap then snapped closed and Brook immediately announced all-in. Steve, after quite a bit of thought, called the remaining $775,000, and showed QJ. He was drawing dead. Brook turned over two eights for flopped top set. Now it was Brook's turn to have the 2-1 chip lead.
Steve: S1.9 million
David: S1.4 million
Brook: S4.0 million
On the very next hand, the suck-out gods would strike again. Steve came in for a raise to $250,000. David just called. The flop came out QJ4 with two hearts. David checked and Steve bet $350,000 at the pot. After thinking for a few seconds, David moved all in and Steve called with AQ. Again, the trap had sprung. David showed him KK. Now, Steve needed an ace or queen to win. He got both. The turn was an ace, and the river was a queen. Surely stunned, David Singer was eliminated in third place and took home $436,200.
Steve shakes David's hand after knocking him out of the event
Steve Paul-Ambrose and Brook Lyter prepare to play heads up
The players saw a flop of J92 with two spades. Brook bet $300 and Steve raised it another $1.2 million to make the bet $1.5 million total. Brook, ready to make a stand, declared all-in. Now, it was up to Steve. What did he want to do? Finally, he decided to call. Brook showed him KJ for top pair, king kicker. Steve showed QTo for an open-ended straight draw and a backdoor flush draw.
Steve and Brook, all-in
The winning board
That, friends, is as refreshing as Bahamian evening.
Congratulations to Steve Paul-Ambrose for winning the 2006 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Steve won a $1,363,100.00 plus $25,000 WPT Championship seat for his Herculean effort. Here are the final table results:
1. Steve Paul-Ambrose $1,363,100.00 + $25,000 WPT Championship seat PokerStars satellite qualifier
2. Brook Lyter $681,500.00 PokerStars $33 rebuy qualifier
3. David Singer$436,200.00
4. Michael Higgins $327,100.00
5. Anders Henrikkson $239,900.00 PokerStars double shootout qualifier
6. Aurangzeb (Ozzy 87) Sheikh $177,200.00
Steve's family celebrates with him after he wins
Steve's family poses with him after the tournament
Steve Paul-Ambrose and Brook Lyter with the WPT crew
A hand-by-hand recap of the action is here. Thank you for a great 2006 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
Special thanks to Eric Harkins for some of the photos in this recap. You'll find Harkins poker photos at The Eye on Poker