NAPT Mohegan Sun: Selbst slays final table to snag $750,000
Late last night, our plans for the penultimate day, NAPT Mohegan Sun report were left in tatters by the final hand played at the tables. Despite seven hours of competition that were all about the dominance of Vanessa Selbst, Mike Beasley inched into the chip lead going into today's final. We had to tear up that report and start again.
Today, however, neither we nor Selbst were to be denied. Lightning does not strike twice. Selbst flew out the blocks during final table play, seized the chip lead within the first 30 minutes, increased it hour on hour, until in scarcely longer than the time it takes to find a way out of the Mohegan Sun parking lot she was the champion. Selbst took $750,000, her first NAPT title and left this sleepy reservation shuddering in her wake.
This really was an all-star performance from Selbst, who all but led from post to post. She was second only to David Williams in the day one counts, was third after day two, led at the end of day three, and was only nudged back to second last night by the narrowest of margins. But the wisest commentators have had her name etched on the trophy all along. She didn't so much shrug off the challenges presented along the way as simply ignore them.
"I was playing well and I just got the cards and everything came together," Selbst said. "I have a habit of busting out in the fourth level or accumulating a butt-load of chips ... This is by far my biggest win, so I'm really excited about it."
We reconvened under the ESPN studio lights at noon today. But Jonathan "FatalError" Aguiar spent longer getting fitted with a television microphone than he did speaking into it. Within the first orbit, Aguiar was all in and all out, unable to outrace Mike Woods' pocket tens with his A♠Q♥. Adios Aguiar.
That swift elimination set a tone we followed for the next couple of hours. Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy departed in seventh - crippled by Derek Raymond's pocket sixes and then finished off by the same foe's A♦9♦. But the party didn't last long for Raymond. He made a stand against Selbst's power poker, but was under-equipped with his A♣T♥ against Selbst's 6♦6♠. She can win races like no other.
The Selbst show paused long enough to allow Beasley to oust Al Melville, the sole Canadian in the field sent back to Toronto with a slightly grim Q♥Q♠ versus A♥Q♣ coup, with an ace binking on the flop. A couple of hands later Scott Seiver's enthralling, entertaining show came to an end when his pocket fours also lost to an ace on the flop, this time connecting with Mike Woods' A♦3♥. Seiver was severed in fourth.
Again triumph was short lived. Woods got all his chips in the middle with 9♥T♣ on a board of 9♦8♣6♠. Selbst, with chilling inevitability, had flopped a set of eights and faded the outs. Woods landed in the rough and we recalled a hand from day three where Selbst cracked Lars Bonding's aces by hitting a set of nines. She had declared then and there: "This is my tournament, I'm sorry." No apology required.
Beasley had shown last night that you can never be 100 percent certain of anything in poker until the big comedy check is in someone's gleeful mitts. But with a six-to-one chip lead and bags of heads up experience, this was as close to a lock as we get.
The heads up exchange between the two will make for some excellent TV, Beasley and Selbst both drawing on encouragement from the crowd and playing to the cameras. In addition to her chip lead, Selbst also had the most supporters, but Beasley continued to crack wise:
"If ever I get heads up in one of these things again, I'm hiring myself a new cheering section," Beasley said. "I'm hiring your cheering section."
But whether it was the support, the chips, or just plain destiny, Selbst did not take long to wrap this one up. It was only about seven hands in when Beasley shoved with Q♥[10s] and ran head-long into Selbst's A♥8♠. Five blank cards later and we were done.
When Selbst won her WSOP bracelet, her friends asked why she was bothering to go to law school. Now, she's going to hear it again, but has a ready answer. "It won't be like: 'Why am I here?' but 'When can I get out of here and play another poker tournament?'" Selbst now moves up to seventh on the all time money list for women players. It's worth bearing in mind that Vanessa Selbst is 25 years old.
Here's what our winner had to say for herself...
And now some words from the runner-up...
Take a look back at the blow-by-blow action with any of the following links. (Short version: Selbst slays everyone.)
As ever, we're grateful to the speedy and superlative snapping of Joe Giron for the photography. Beware his ©.
Join us again tomorrow for the start of the $25,000 Bounty Shootout Tournament. But that's that from the Main Event, crushed by Vanessa Selbst.