2009 PCA: Eight to return for final table
Around these parts, if you want to sit down for a decent meal, you are advised to get a reservation. Otherwise, you may go hungry or end up eating a tuna sandwich out of a deli cooler. If you have the right amount of money in your pocket, you can get a seat at nearly any table in town. One table, however, is booked for the year. There are eight seats available. They belong to the eight remaining players in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure...and what a meal they are going to have. The last person sitting will get a doggy bag stuffed with $3 million.
The places are set for the following eight people.
Seat 1: Tony Gregg (2,245,000)
Seat 2: Alex Gomes (8,080,000)
Seat 3: Pieter Tielen (2,010,000)
Seat 4: Dan Heimiller (1,340,000)
Seat 5: Benny Spindler (3,825,000)
Seat 6: Kevin Saul (1,640,000)
Seat 7: Dustin Dirksen (760,000)
Seat 8: Pooyra Nazari (6,790,000)
Thirty-two people started Day 4, including a nice selection of Team PokerStars Pros, tournament rounders, online phenoms, and talented newcomers. With names like Dan Heimiller, Kathy Liebert, Kevin Saul, and Dustin Dirksen in the mix, we knew it was going to be an interesting day.
Though eight people made it to the final table, the day belonged to Alex Gomes. Gomes defined energy as he fought his way to the final table. After a near-ruinous end to Day 3, Gomes battled back from a short stack to become one of the chip leaders. Then, an ill-timed bluff made him a short-stack again midway through Day 4. But then he picked up pocket kings versus Poorya Narazi's pocket jacks and made it to the 4 million mark once more.
Just a few minutes before play broke for the night, Gomes won what was likely the biggest pot of the tournament against Kevin Saul--Gomes' sixes full of aces besting Saul's sixes full of queens.
Saul held the chip lead for most of the day before giving it up in the huge hand against Gomes. Known on PokerStars as BeL0WaB0Ve, Saul made his reputation online, but he has more than $1.7 million in live tournament winnings including at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Bellagio Cup III Championship in 2007, where he won more than $1.3 million there.
Dan Heimiller, a long-time tournament rounder, is no stranger to final tables. He holds a WSOP bracelet, nine major first place finishes, and more than two million bucks in lifetime tournament earnings.
Poorya Nazari is a 22 year old recent university graduate who came to the Bahamas with his uncle. Nine-handed tonight, he scored a key double up with aces versus Dustin Dirksen's A-K. On the last hand of the night, he eliminated Jan Collado Fernandez with A-T versus pocket jacks.
Tony Gregg is a well-respected mid-stakes cash game player. He's been playing cards since he was 18. In August 2007, he finished third in the PokerStars Sunday Million. His father is planning to fly in to watch Gregg play on the final table on Saturday.
Benny Spindler, 23, is from Darmstadt, Germany. The high stakes online cash game player has recently spent a lot of time at live events, including EPT Barcelona, the WSOP-E and EPT London. This is his best live result to date.
Dustin Dirksen is 28 and from Iowa. Known as 'JohnSmiley1' online, Dirksen is a force in
online, high-stakes cash games, regularly pitting his skills against some of the best players in the world. As a Supernova Elite, Dustin was freerolled into the tournament by PokerStars.
Pieter Tielen, 36, is a PokerStars qualifier from Holland. This is his second live tournament ever and he's here for just $33, having made his way through two PokerStars satellites to win his $12,000 package. He's a purchasing consultant who lives just outside Amsterdam.
While our focus is on tomorrow, we can't let the night pass without paying some respect to the people who no longer have chips.
Team PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren spent the past several days in a gritty struggle for a stack. Short on hands, short on chips, and high on good humor, Coren made it all the way to 40th place before falling victim to poker's most villainous combination: advancing blinds and being card dead. Nonetheless, she earned $40,000 for her deep run.
Hafiz Khan, 2008 PCA runner-up, was dead set on making it to his second PCA final table in as many years. An ill-timed bluff in the middle of Day 4 spelled the end of Khan's near-historic run through the field. He finished in 21st place for $50,000.
While nostalgia wills us to pay homage to the people we left behind, it's time we begin to focus on the final table ahead. As one last hymn for the departed check out the historical record in the links below.
And here's a look at our coverage of the World Championship of Battleship Poker finals.
Finally, don't miss the report on Hevad Kahn winning $200,000 in the $2,000 side event last night and PokerStars Six member and WSOP champion Peter Eastgate taking down the $5,000 side event for more than $300,000 tonight.
This is where we call it a night and get some rest for the final table. By this time tomorrow, we expect to be crowning a 2009 PCA champion and asking him whether he can spare cab fare to the airport. With $3 million in his pocket, we think we've got a chance.
Until then, adieu.
All photos (c) Joe Giron/IMPDI and Neil Stoddart