It’s not very often that you see a $25,000 buy-in online poker tournament. $25,000 is a significant investment for many and outside of special events like the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) and PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP), five-figure buy-in tournaments just don’t exist. Recently, Full Tilt Poker, a Mac-friendly online poker site, hosted the $25,000 buy-in Heads-Up World Championship, attracting the top names in the worlds of live and online poker. In the end, THEASHMAN103 earned $551,000 for the win, besting David “Raptor” Benefield. Let’s recap some of the action from Memorial Day weekend on the world’s second largest online poker site.
Those who took to the felts included Rafe Furst, Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Phil Ivey, Andy Bloch, Brian Townsend, Team PokerStars Pro member Scott Montgomery, Justin “Boosted J” Smith, John Juanda, Gavin Smith, David Singer, Toto Leonidas, Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond, Erick Lindgren, Ilari “Ziigumd” Sahamies, David “The Dragon” Pham, and Tony G. The latter two met in the first round, with Pham outlasting Tony G to face Sahamies in the round of 32. Pham would win once again, before falling to PAST in the Sweet Sixteen. THEASHMAN103 then defeated PAST in the Final Four after besting Singer, LUVTHEWNBA, and Galfond.
YOGIBLAIR also reached the Final Four, outlasting KADABRA in the round of eight. Along the way, YOGIBLAIR defeated World Series of Poker (WSOP) November Nine member Montgomery, DINGEPLING, and NEGRODAMUS2. Benefield defeated WINNERFISH in the Final Four. His road also included victories over ESKABORRETURNS, DARKHORSE19, DJADI, and IVANLENDL. His adversary in the Final Four, WINNERFISH, took down VAGA_LION, MIRTTINUR, STEVESBETS, and PURECASH25 in a tough draw. In the finals, Benefield fell to THEASHMAN103. Here were the top eight finalists in the Full Tilt Poker $25,000 Heads-Up World Championship along with their payouts:
1st Place: theASHMAN103 (United States) – $551,250
2nd Place: David Benefield (United States) – $315,000
3rd Place: WinnerFish (United States) – $165,375
4th Place: yogiblair (Canada) – $165,375
5th Place: Past (United States) – $94,500
6th Place: Kadabra (United States) – $94,500
7th Place: IvanLendL (Sweden) – $94,500
8th Place: Vaga_Lion (United Kingdom) – $94,500
The matches were single elimination in a similar style to the National Heads-Up Championship, which played out at Caesars Palace and was won by Huck Seed, who defeated Go Daddy Girl Vanessa Rousso in the finals. Rousso’s road to the finals against Seed was one of the toughest paths I’ve ever seen in any tournament. She defeated 10-time WSOP bracelet winner and poker legend Doyle Brunson in the first round, all-around industry sensation Phil Ivey in the second round, 2007 Heads-Up Poker Championship winner Paul Wasicka, crowd favorite Daniel Negreanu, and European poker guru Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier. Seed plowed through Jonathan “FieryJustice” Little, World Poker Tour (WPT) titleholder Gus Hansen, former reigning European Poker Tour (EPT) Monte Carlo Grand Final winner Glen Chorny, high-stakes cash game specialist David Oppenheim, and 2003 WSOP Main Event runner up Sammy Farha.
Full Tilt Poker will now focus its efforts on qualifying members for the 2009 WSOP. A bevy of online poker players will flood the site’s virtual felts for its 150 Seat Main Event Guarantee, which takes place on Sunday, June 21st. The tournament is not a cheap one, as its buy-in is a hefty $535. However, if you consider that last year’s WSOP Main Event Champion, Danish poker pro Peter Eastgate, took home $9.1 million, your return on investment could be quite enormous. Satellites are available starting at $1 or 50 Full Tilt Points, so check out the online poker room for more details. The tournament doles out $12,000 prize packages, which includes the $10,000 Main Event buy-in plus $2,000 in spending money. If a player qualifies for the Main Event through Full Tilt and wins it, they’ll take home a healthy $10 million in bonus money from the online poker site for their troubles.