World Poker Tour history was made Friday afternoon, as Darren Elias made it back-to-back wins by taking home the WPT Caribbean title. Elias overcame a massive chip disadvantage to Christophe Rosso and beat out fellow WPT Champions Club member Mike Linster on his way to victory and a $127,680 payday.
Elias is the first player ever to win back-to-back WPT titles in the same season, and he’s made himself the prohibitive favorite very early on in this WPT Player of the Year campaign. The only other player to win two consecutive WPT titles is Marvin Rettenmaier, who took down the WPT Championship to cap off Season X and kicked off Season XI by winning again in Cyprus.
He might have started the final table in second place, but he might as well have begun in sixth when staring at Rosso’s chiplead. Entering the final table, Rosso had over 1.9 million chips – representing over half the total in play. With the shorter stacks all bunched together it was a veritable free-for-all at the start, with violent swing and a quick series of eliminations.
Dan Murariu three-bet all in from the big blind with A 9 and ran head first into Linster and his Q Q. Murariu never had more than three outs in the hand and couldn’t hit them, and thus he made his exit in sixth.
Rosso’s good fortunes carried well into this final table, and that became abundantly clear just two hands after Murariu’s elimination. He raised to 25,000, Ziga Jamnikar three-bet to 60,000 on the button and Rosso called as the flop fell J T 7. Rosso led out for 100,000, almost two-thirds of Jamnikar’s stack, and called the rest when Jamnikar moved all in for 161,000. With 7 7 it was an easy call for Rosso, who now had a set and needed every bit of it to take the lead from Jamnikar and his A A. There’d be no vengeance for Jamnikar as the 2 and T completed the board, and with that just four players remained.
It wouldn’t stay that way for long, though, as a case of déjà vu for Rosso resulted in a nightmare finish for the newly flush Linster. Rosso and Linster saw a flop of A T 7 and a raising war erupted, with Linster eventually four-betting all in. Rosso called, and while Linster had to feel good about his A T Rosso once again showed 7 7 for a set of sevens and, yet again, his hand held. Linster, the 2013 WPT bestbet Jacksonville champion, was eliminated in fourth place, and Rosso seemed to be running away with this tournament.
After taking down blinds for some time three-handed, George Griffith three-bet all in with K T and got action from Rosso, who called with Q 6. The 6 5 5 flop put Rosso ahead and the 5 turn made him a full house. The 8 river was one heart to few, and Griffith was out on in third – leaving Rosso and Elias to battle it out heads-up after just 37 hands at this final table.
Elias had a similar stack to the one he started with, and he was looking down the barrel of a 5-to-1 deficit as the heads-up match for the title got underway. After slowly chipping away at Rosso’s lead as the levels ticked higher and higher, Elias five-bet all in with 7 7 – the very hand that Rosso had employed for two eliminations at this final table – and Rosso called with A J. A low board gave Elias a double and immediately drew the two chip counts to virtually even levels.
The lead would pass to Elias shortly thereafter, but he and Rosso traded it back and forth several times. The hand that turned the tide for good played out on a board of J 7 5 T T, as Rosso check-raised all in on the river. Elias, who had turned the nut straight with 9 8, eventually called and it was good against Rosso’s J 8 – a pot that left Rosso just 14 big blinds.
After doubling twice – first with J T to Elias’ 9 6 and then again with A 6 against K Q – Rosso fought his way back into the match. It wouldn’t last long, though, and Rosso’s shove with 7 6 got picked off by Elias and his A A.
Elias nearly saw disaster strike as the lead slipped away on a T 6 5 flop and 7 turn – but the 5 counterfeited Rosso’s two-pair and put the pocket aces back on top, wrapping up the pot and the victory for Elias.
The WPT didn’t wait long to kick off their next stop, as action in the bestbet Bounty Scramble in Jacksonville also got underway on Friday afternoon – one of five Main Tour events remaining in 2014.
2014 WPT Carribbean – Final Results
- Darren Elias – $127,680
- Christophe Rosso – $64,900
- George Griffith – $42,100
- Mike Linster – $28,950
- Ziga Jamnikar – $22,280
- Dan Murariu – $17,370
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