Will Molson breaks curse to win PCA $25k High Roller
If at first you don't succeed try, try again. That might be the family motto for the Molsons of Canada, after their boy Will Molson, watched by his father on the rail, took down the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 High Roller event tonight at the third time of asking.
It's not just that Molson has played this event before. In the last two seasons he's reached the final table both times. More than that, he's finished runner-up each time, first in 2009 to Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, then in 2010 to another Will, Will Reynolds. This year he finally broke his bridesmaid curse, defeating Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez heads-up to win a first prize of $1,072,850.
"Finally," said Molson, after hugging his father and friends on the rail. "No more second place."
Molson hugs his father moments after winning
Molson is something of a High Roller specialist, having reached three High Roller final tables in the past year. As far as tournaments go they tend to produce something special. It's poker for purists, foregoing the random element that comes with the territory in a thousand-seater Main Event, with the buy-in restricting entrants to only the very best.
This was an exclusive group, masters with proven track records, trying to outwit their peers for more than just a winner's cheque, and Molson proved once again that when it comes to masters he may be a grand one.
The final was played in near silence, amid a tournament room now almost deserted, save for a turbo event and the remains of the cash game players. There was no hollering or shouting, except for a few guys with beers watching the Jets game on the big screen. Absent from the eliminations was any yelling or hoopla, no overt relief or disappointment. An outsider stopping by could never tell how much was at stake.
A total of 12 players returned this morning, having played until 2.30am last night in an attempt to reach a final eight. Instead we played through four more eliminations before the actual final began. Short stack Matt Affleck went first, almost immediately, followed by NAPT Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza winner Tom Marchese.
Brandon Steven followed in tenth place, the same position he busted in the World Series Main Event last year, sending his chips to Leo Fernandez. That was followed by the elimination of Shander De Vries, fourth place finisher at EPT7 Barcelona, who departed in ninth, the final table bubble.
Shander De Vries
First out from the final had been Jason Mercier, the chip leader coming into the last day who when normally in such shape annihilates anyone trying to stop him. But he suffered setbacks early, notably against Matt Marafioti and he was unable to win back that advantage.
Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier
Following Mercier went Marafioti. Another of the short stacks, Marafioti, who finished seventh in this event last year, scrapped efficiently, but was ultimately eliminated in seventh place when Fernandez saw him off with pocket eights to Marafioti's ace-queen.
By now Leo Fernandez has taken the chip lead, his stack of more than two million spread out on the table directly opposite the dealer. The Team PokerStars Pro then sent David Baker to the rail.
Eliminated in fifth place he may have been but Govert Metaal did not go easily. Crippled by Molson the Dutchman, with a big rail of countrymen and women supporting him, managed to triple-up, double-up and double-up again. But Molson had him on the ropes and landed the killer blow a short while later, flopping quad jacks against Metaal's ace-three.
The veteran Erik Seidel looked likely to go deep having snatched pots against Max Lykov, Molson and Metaal. More would come from Fernandez as the quiet American amassed close to two million.
But then came a hand against Molson in which Seidel tried to push the Canadian out of a hand only for Molson to turn over aces. Molson would deliver the coup de grace some time later when his fives won a race with ace-queen sending Seidel to the rail in fourth.
It left the trio of Molson, Lykov and Fernandez, each of whom had handled the lead at one stage. But after the dinner break, during which a deal was proposed and then dropped, Lykov had pecked away at Fernandez, seizing the advantage. But Molson, sensing this was his chance to put aside memories of the previous two years, struck the Russian, snap calling Lykov's all-in with pocket sixes with his own pocket tens. Despite some dramatic draws on the board the tens held, sending Lykov to the rail.
Team PokerStars Pro Max Lykov
Then it was Fernandez getting his chips in, doubling-up with pocket deuces when his set on the turn outdid Molson's pair of queens on the flop. Then once more, this time his nine-seven against Molson's king-queen, with a king-nine-seven flop.
Leo Fernandez (left) and Will Molson heads-up
With the advantage it was now Molson playing catch-up and finally he got his double up, his king-jack of hearts turning a flush against Fernandez's pocket fives. Then more, Fernandez doubled, his queen-seven flopping a seven to beat Molson's ace-five.
But finally this endless back and forth had to end. The chips went in, Fernandez shoving and showing J♦2♥ to Molson's A♦5♠. The subsequent board of blanks gave Molson the title. He broke the silence, made a "whoop" noise and shook Fernandez's hand. At last this event was over.
PCA High Roller winner Will Molson
The links below will fill in any gaps as well as providing you with all the intricacies of a fascinating day, while the pay outs are detailed on the prize winners' page.
It brings the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to an end, although the Bounty Shootout is still taking place, coverage of which can be found here. It seems only yesterday we were detailing the opening $100,000 Super High Roller event, not to mention waving off the Fish and Chips Showdown players from the quayside as they set sail to slay deep sea fish (fish count: 0).
Thanks for following all of our coverage from Paradise Island. We've had everything from gale force winds to a quarantined Main Event final at the Atlantis Resort, not to mention enough Jamba Juice to float one of the yachts parked out in the marina; time to fly home and allow vegetables back into our lives.
We're off to pack our bags. The 2012 PCA is only 11 months away and up next is EPT Deauville, in France, starting next week. We'll see you there.
Until then it's good night from the Bahamas.