Few poker players can call themselves Triple Crown winners, but Davidi Kitai was one of two members of that elite group at the final table of the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event. Kitai defeated Cary Katz heads-up to add his second career bracelet Tuesday, making him the first European to win one at the 2013 WSOP.
Kitai then set his sights on something that’s never been done in poker.
“I would like to make a double Triple Crown,” said Kitai, with a laugh, “Then after, maybe a triple Triple Crown.”
All joking aside, Kitai has been one of the most dangerous players on tour since his first bracelet win back in 2008. He has over $2.8 million in lifetime tournament earnings, including an $825,00 win at EPT Berlin in 2012 that gave him the Triple Crown. Despite these accomplishments, Kitai’s ultimate dream in poker is the same as almost anyone that’s ever played a hand of tournament poker.
“My dream is to reach the final table of the Main Event at the World Series,” said Kitai, “But I can never dream [of it], it won’t be easy with the big fields.”
After entering heads-up play by scoring a double knockout of Dimitar Danchev and Vincent Bartello, Kitai had a commanding lead over Katz. But Katz wouldn’t go easily into the night, winning three massive pots with a rivered nut-flush, rivered trip fours and a successful value bet of second pair.
Kitai fought back and edged into a slight lead when, on the 90th hand of the final table, disaster struck. Kitai opened to 60,000, Katz three-bet to 160,000, Kitai four-bet to 360,000, Katz five-bet all in and Kitai quickly called. Then Kitai got the bad news. His J J was miles behind Katz’s K K with most of the chips in play in the pot. He’d need a miracle to pull it out.
Then he got one.
The J 8 6 flop sent his rail into hysterics as Kitai flopped top set to take a commanding lead in the pot. The 7 turn left him one card away from bracelet number two, and the A river confirmed it. Katz was left to dejectedly consider what might have been, forced to settle for a second place finish when a win seemed so certain.
A short final table was anything but expected with the way the rest of Day 3 of the tournament played out. More than three hours after players combined to a single table of 10, Jesse Martin went out in tenth place after two brutal hands. He doubled Katz up with 8 8 against J J, with an 8 door card on the flop immediately followed by the J. Martin got the last of his chips in with A Q against Eugene Katchalov’s A Q and looked likely to chop on the 9 4 4 flop, but the K turn and 3 river gave Katchalov a flush and sent Martin to the rail in 10th place.
Cards finally went in the air on the main stage at 7:40 pm local time in Las Vegas, with the final nine players each securing their first final table at the 2013 WSOP. And from that point the dam completely burst.
Chris Johnson came into the final table with less than five big blinds, a stack that he three-bet all in with A 3 only to run into Kitai’s T T. The K 9 8 8 J runout provided no reprieve for Johnson, who was eliminated in ninth place.
Dario Minieri’s stack fluctuated about as much as you might suspect from the Italian’s wild reputation. At various points on Day 3 he was the shortest stack and the chipleader, but Minieri was left as one of the shortest stacks with eight players left. He open-shoved his last 64,000 from the button and Danchev called with A 3. Minieri’s K 5 was live but couldn’t connect as it came out J 8 2 2 6, knocking him out in eighth.
The third all in of the final table came at the end of the third orbit, with the first and second place finishers in the 2011 BLUFF Player of the Year race getting involved in a pot. Bertrand Grospellier opened, Katchalov three-bet the size of the pot an Grospellier called off the rest of his chips with Q J. He was in big trouble as Katchalov had K K, but Grospellier picked up some live outs on the Q 5 2 flop. The 7 took some of those away and the 3 would not do it for Grospellier, who was eliminated by his good friend Katchalov in seventh place.
Bartello was left as the shortest stack, but he would make a big comeback from that disadvantage. The first time Bartello doubled through Kristina Holst with A K against A Q, eliminating most of the drama with the K hitting the flop. Bartello had deja bu two hands later as he three-bet all in for 170,000 and got called by Katchalov. Bartello’s A K didn’t hit the board in any way the second time, but it didn’t have to against Katchalov’s A Q.
Holst was left with almost no chips after her run-in with Bartello, and they’d go in soon thereafter. Bartello opened to 50,000, Holst called off her last 32,000, Katz min-raised to 100,000 and Bartello called. The A Q 6 flop brought a check from Bartello, a 70,000 bet from Katz and a call. The J turn brought an all in from Bartello and a quick fold from Katz as the hands were turned over. Holst was in big trouble with A 3 against Holt’s A 8, but she had some outs to chop. The 4 wouldn’t do it and Holst, the third woman to make a final table so far at the 2013 WSOP, was out in sixth place.
They went to the dinner break with five players left, but an hour of reflection did little to slow the pace when they returned. Kitai opened up a tremendous lead at this point, with well over half the chips in play. Katz got a much-needed double-up through Danchev, winning a coinflip with A K against Q Q.
Katz continued to build his stack, much to the detriment of Katchalov, and it started when he opened from the button. Katchalov three-bet from the small blind, and Katz four-bet the rest of Katchalov’s stack, which was called. Katchalov was well behind with 9 9 against Q Q. The 8 7 3 flop left Katchalov with one out, and the 2 sealed the pot for Katz. Katchalov made his exit in fifth as the meaningless 5 fell on the river.
The remaining players barely had enough time to reorient themselves during four-handed play before another massive pot developed, one that would dramatically change the outlook of the tournament. Danchev opened with a pot sized bet of 84,000, Bartello re-potted all in and Kitai called. Danchev threw his last few chips into the pot and the stage was set for a three-way all in.
Kitai: 9 9
Bartello: A Q
Danchev: Q 5
Kitai had an excellent chance to eliminate two opponents in one fell swoop, reducing the field from four to two. The K 4 3 flop kept Kitai well ahead, but the 5 on the turn left both of his opponents with outs to stay alive. The 7 on the river was just the kind of card Kitai was looking for, and by virtue of their stacks before the hand Danchev received fourth place money and Bartello finished third.
Kitai and Katz would play just 33 hands of heads-up poker before their inevitable confrontation, with the chips moving around quite a bit for Pot Limit Hold’em. In the end, though, it was simply Kitai’s day to win.
Here are the final table payouts for Event 19 of the 2013 World Series of Poker, $5,000 Pot Limit Hold’em.
- Davidi Kitai – $224,560
- Cary Katz – $138,794
- Vincent Bartello – $103,628
- Dimitar Danchev – $77,893
- Eugene Katchalov – $58,912
- Kristina Holst – $44,844
- Bertrand Grospellier – $34,341
- Dario Minieri – $26,468
- Chris Johnson – $20,520
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