Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recap for Event 14: $1,500 + $150 No-Limit Hold'em

Josh Brikis

As one of the last preliminary events at the Borgata Poker Open before the Championship Event, Event 14: $1,500 + $150 No-Limit Hold'em attracted an impressive field of 303 players.  But when two days of play were complete, Josh Brikis from Monroeville, PA was the one left holding the trophy and a payout slip for $119,034.

Cards went in the air at 11am on Thursday, and the tournament drew many big names.  Jeremy McLaughlin was back at it, less than a day after winning the $2000 + $150 Heads Up Tournament.  Christian Harder, fellow "Final Four" from the same tournament, was also spotted in the field.  They were joined by such established pros as Tiffany Michelle, Matt Stout, Maria Ho, Roy Winston, Olivier Busquet, and Tom Marchese, among many others.  Soheil Shamseddin also bought in for Event 14, but he only lasted ten minutes as he ran his set of tens into his opponent's set of queens.

By mid-day, Canadian pro Gavin Smith had emerged as the chip leader, and ended day 1 in a respectable 7th place in chips.  Also in the top 10 were Jason Dewitt and Allen Bari.  Those three plus 61 others were chasing the chip leader, Andrew Dykeman from Jacksonville, FL, who ended day 1 with over 235k.

Players were back in their chairs at noon on Friday, and in about 4 hours, field had been trimmed to 37, with 36 getting paid.  The money bubble lasted an extraordinarily long time, and Brikis was the short stack and found himself all in and at risk several times.  He persevered and found himself in the money at around 5:30pm, when Chris Back's king ten bested Anthony Gelfen's pocket queens.

With a field of this caliber, many recognizable faces made the money, but were unable to parlay that into a final table.  Those players include Steve Dannenmann (30th), "Action" Jeff Hwang (29th), Mike Beasley (24th), Roy Winston (23rd), Jason Dewitt (21st).  Gavin Smith seemed to be destined for a final table, but he fell short when his pocket aces were cracked by Scott Anderson's pocket kings with 18 left.  He was eliminated in 18th place shortly thereafter.

When Leonard Cortellino was eliminated in 11th place, it was nearly 1am.  Thanks in part to his hand with Gavin, Anderson came into the final table with the chip lead.  After losing Joanna Monteavaro in 10th place and Gary Lobello in 9th, Brikis was faced with a tough decision for his tournament life.  On a board reading QQT52, David Diaz had bet enough to put Brikis all in.  Brikis went into the tank for what he later described as "a half hour."  He eventually made the right decision and called, as Diaz said he had nothing.  Brikis tabled his jack ten, and a chorus of "Nice hand" could be heard from the rest of the table.

With the momentum of that hand, Brikis continued grinding his stack upwards.  When they reached four handed, Brikis played a pot with one time Scott Anderson.  Anderson checked raised Brikis on the flop and the turn, the latter putting him all in.  Brikis called, and had Anderson's top pair/top kicker bested with pocket kings.  When the river blanked, Brikis found himself three handed and in great position to take down the tournament, having more than 60% of the chips in play.

Brikis bluffed a large part of his stack and lost a few small pots to lose the chip lead, and found himself racing for his tournament life.  Brikis held pocket fives to the ace queen of David Diaz.  Brikis turned a full house and left Diaz drawing dead, while also regaining the chip lead.  Brikis eliminated Diaz a few hands later when his AT held up against Diaz's K7.

Though Mike Summers still had a decent amount of chips in relation to the blinds, it only took two hands for for Mike Summers to get all in.  He reraised all in from the big blind holding A7 and Josh Brikis called with a dominating AJ.  When the board fell Q2962, the two shook hands as Brikis had won the tournament.

Even though it was 6am and the sun was rising outside, Brikis was elated about the win and enjoyed sharing the moment with a handful of friends that had stayed up to witness the win.  Brikis is no stranger to success at the poker table, coming off of a deep run (55th) in the 2010 WSOP Main Event and a 2nd place in a 2009 WSOP $5k.  But the win today meant much more to Brikis, who spent a moment admiring his trophy.  In the last year, Brikis has found himself on the losing side of heads up play more than he had liked, so he was pleased to emerge victorious.

 He had planned on playing the Championship Event later today, but has decided to wait until Sunday to play, perhaps taking Saturday off.

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