PSC Bahamas: Survival of the fittest as Jason Koon prevails in $100K SHR

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Jason Koon: First Super High Roller champion of the Championship era

The $100,000 Super High Roller tournament that kicked off the inaugural PokerStars Championship meeting in the Bahamas this week attracted the very cream of poker's young, modern crop. Just a glance at the last seven who divvied up a $5 million prize-pool today will finally slay any lingering stereotypes that poker players might be lazy and unfit. There could scarcely be a gathering of more athletic specimens outside a sports stadium.

Yet even among this bunch, Jason Koon stands tallest. While others picked at chicken fillets or bags of nuts today, the 31-year-old from West Virginia ate from a box of salad prepared at home. During a break in play, as opponents caught up with their friends, Koon took out a skipping rope and set it blurring.

All this seems to work.

When time came for one player from the 41 who started to pose with a trophy tonight, the champion of the highest buy-in event on this calendar, Koon was that man. He is fit of body and mind and outwitted the very best this week to earn himself $1,650,300 and the first major title of the PokerStars Championship era.

"This could be the best of my poker accomplishments," Koon said in victory. "I won 25Ks and 50Ks but I've never closed out a 100K and this is the 100K to win."

He added: "This heater's been crazy but I also think it's important to keep my eye on the rail and stay grounded. I'm having my mini Fedor (Holz) moment and that's great but at the same time there's a bunch of guys more talented than me and if I want to stay on top I have to continue to work hard."

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Jumping for joy

To claim the title, Koon had to beat Charlie Carrel heads-up and deny the young British player a Super High Roller title for the second time in a month. Carrel was heads-up for a similar crown in Prague last month, but lost to Leon Tsoukernik on that occasion. Koon was a different proposition, but Carrel could not find a way past him either. Carrel will have to make do with yet another seven-figure consolation prize.

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Trophy stays out of Carrel's reach again

With such a big buy in, the quality of this field was assured, and it was a stellar final table that assembled in the Imperial Ballroom of the Atlantis Resort.


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The magnificent seven: Standing (l-r): Byron Kaverman, Jason Koon, Connor Drinan, Daniel Colman. Seated (l-r): Bryn Kenney, Charlie Carrel, Daniel Dvoress

Bryn Kenney was the defending champion in this event, but it seemed for the whole of Day 1 as though he was going to let his title go without a fight. However, he was one of a few players who showed up at the start of Day 2 and battled onwards, eventually making it all the way to the final.

He was a short stack when play commenced today, however, and couldn't push on towards a back-to-back success. He went out in seventh, losing to Koon's Broadway straight. (Hand history.)

Kenney took $275,060 for sixth but earned it in two days. He left everybody else with at least $300K reward for their three days' work.

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Bryn Kenney: Defending champion out in seventh

It was at this stage that some fluctuations began. Carrel's seemingly imperious overnight chip-lead took two dents when he doubled both Daniel Dvoress and Byron Kaverman. Koon didn't put a foot wrong as he assumed the lead.

Connor Drinan was forced to play a waiting game, but couldn't seem to find a double up despite numerous uncalled shoves. When he finally did get a caller, he was dominated: Drinan's deuces were no match for Kaverman's aces. The only good news for Drinan was that Kaverman had fewer chips.

The coup left Drinan in real trouble and the next time he got it all in he was dominated once more. Carrel's A♠K♣ was way ahead of Drinan's A♦4♣. Drinan flopped a four, but Carrel turned a king and Drinan was toast. (Hand history.)

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Connor Drinan, seated. But not for long

Kaverman plays a deliberate game and takes his time over most decisions. However, he has moves aplenty and at this final table rode the highs and lows perhaps more violently than most. He had that big double with aces, and he also showed a deuce after four-bet shoving pre-flop in another hand against Dvoress.

But he was rewarded only with fifth place for his antics when Colman put a bit of a beat on him. Colman open-jammed his small blind and Kaverman called with A♦T♠. Colman's 9♥6♥ turned out to be best by the river. (Hand history.)

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Byron Kaverman: Fifth-placed finisher

The pace of the final table had been pretty ponderous to this point and there followed a good hour without any significant action. Then it went bananas with back-to-back eliminations leading to a super-fast heads up passage of play. Everyone was collectively shaken from their torpor.

Dvoress went out in fourth. After Carrel opened his button, Dvoress got it in with K♥J♥ and couldn't beat Carrel's A♣K♣, even though he ended with a flush. By that point Carrel had a full house. (Hand history)

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Daniel Dvoress: Run ended in fourth

But Dvoress had barely finished packing up his things when Colman hit the rail too. He had been playing a tetchy game against Koon in particular and one hand in the lead up to his elimination is worth noting. In it, Koon open-shoved the small blind and Colman, with 2.8 million back, agonised before folding what he said was ace-queen. Koon showed him the 6♣.

Whether or not that was playing on his mind, there was little he could do when he found A♥J♥ and shoved into Carrel's K♦K♥. There was no ace on board and Colman headed home with $759,660, leaving Carrel with a chip lead of about 2:1 heads up. (Hand history)

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Bad news for Daniel Colman

It's worth noting that at no point during the final table did any of them even talk about discussing a deal. Each of the last five had easy access to the payouts sheet and they made frequent visits to it, determining the size of the pay-jumps. But they never wanted to see the numbers.

Carrel noted in Prague last month that he really wanted a trophy. He has been on a sensational run of late, with no fewer than nine major final tables in Malta, Amsterdam, Prague and now here. But he hasn't converted any of them into a win. He still wanted the title here and it had maybe been tacitly accepted that no one wanted a chop, even when they got heads-up.

Without the exigencies of television production to slow them down, these two tore into a breakneck heads-up duel. The two dealers--two of the quickest I've seen--kept the pace ticking along and both Carrel and Koon were lightning fast with their decision-making.

Carrel extended his chip lead, but then Koon reeled it back. They were seeing about as many hands an hour as you get online, where both these two play pretty regularly too.

Just as Koon never let his chip deficit shake his cool, neither did he let up when he got the chip lead. It was relentless from then on, with Koon sealing the deal at around 7pm local time. Carrel flopped top pair when Koon had second pair. But then Koon matched his kicker too on the turn.

They got it all in on the river, and that was the end of that.

"I don't know Charlie that well but we've got to know each other a bit the last couple of days while playing and he seems like a really incredible guy," Koon said of his opponent. "He seems to have it together and is really humble. I was a total train wreck at his age so he seems to have figured some stuff out that took me another decade to figure out. He seemed really relaxed for the stakes, playing a 500k heads up match and just cracking jokes."

All joking aside, Koon is the fitting--and fittest--champion. (Hand history)

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Charlie Carrel and Jason Koon embrace at the end

Click through for all the blow-by-blow action.

PokerStars Championship Bahamas $100K Super High Roller

Dates: January 6-8, 2017
Buy-in: $98,000 + $2,000
Players: 41
Re-entries: 13
Total prize pool: $5,239,080

PlaceNameCountryPrize
1Jason KoonUnited States$1,650,300
2Charlie CarrelUnited Kingdom$1,191,900
3Daniel ColmanUnited States$759,660
4Daniel DvoressCanada$576,300
5Byron KavermanUnited States$445,320
6Connor DrinanUnited States$340,540
7Bryn KenneyUnited States$275,060