Battle Boris: Becker booms by battlers
Boris is well and truly back. The scene was set here in the Imperial Ballroom for a Battle Boris extravaganza, with six players lining up one-by-one take a shot at the PokerStars ambassador. The tennis legend was all that stood between them and a seat in the PCA tomorrow, a freeroll prize that could potentially amount to millions of dollars. It sounded simple...
Six players had made it here after gallant routes through a progression of tournaments on PokerStars. Daily "Battle Boris" events ran into November before weekly finals through October and into November that culminated in a grand final online, with the top finishes brought here to the Bahamas. For the victors today, a seat in the PCA; for the vanquished, chance to spend a week with sand between their toes on the shores of Paradise Island, trying to forget what could have been. Faced with such an either/or, some would say everyone's a winner...
Michel Dion went first. The Quebecois withstood a Becker advantage before turning the tables on the German, a first win for the contenders, Dion becoming the most recent addition to the day 1B line up.
Lone winner Michael Dion
But any thought that we would be adding another five new names to the player list (and their buy-in to the prizepool) were quickly forgotten. Boris Becker, the winner of six tennis grand slam titles and countless others across a glittering tennis career, was about to turn up the heat.
Next up was Namik Ajlan who did well to keep himself in the game during some relentless Becker pressure before being eventually sent to the beach empty handed, Becker's tens full of jacks seeing off his fellow German. It was a similar fate for Isaak Oknin of Israel.
Oknin came out raising from the start, the equivalent of a booming serve that Becker returned, unharmed. The lead switched between the two for some time before a breakthrough, and again it was Becker on top, seeing him off with an ace-high flush for three in a row.
Next up was Piotr Malinowski, from France. Despite heroic efforts his battle with Boris lasted a little more than ten minutes.
Next up was Stefan Edberg. No, I mean American Keith Anderson, sportingly dressed in a white headband, shorts and a t-shirt, reminiscent of Becker's Swedish nemesis. Only the open sandals gave Andersen away. Their clash would not be too dissimilar from the Becker-Edberg battles of yesteryear.
Becker and Edberg, a.k.a. Keith Andersen
Becker worked his way into a 2-1 chip lead putting Anderson on the base line. After a pocket deuces hand Becker had left his opponent with a little more than 400 chips. But to
Edberg's Andersen's credit he fought back, doubling up twice to level the scores only to stumble again, before everything flipped, putting Becker on the back foot in true Wimbledon epic style.
But Boris was proving resilient, turning on the aggression again to seal the match, beating Andersen's pair of threes with his own pocket fours, putting this one to bed.
It would soon be 5-1. Italian player Stefano Busolin completed the display, down to the felt in just ten minutes, completed a Becker run that few had predicted.
The PCA will be boosted by just one player tomorrow. Becker headed off to play cash ahead of his Day 1B appearance.
That's the wordy version. Now hear it from the man himself...
Watch PCA 09: Boris Becker on Battle Boris on PokerStars.tv