The stakes couldn’t have been much higher when Ilkin Garibli and Joe Kuether got heads-up for the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 High Roller title. A deal that gave each of them a nearly equal share of money should have taken the tension out of the match-up, but with just the title, pride and a SLYDE watch on the line their heads-up battle somehow intensified.
Garibli had the lead for much of the match, but Kuether continued to double. And fight. And double again. Their battle for the title lasted well over two hours despite shortening the levels to just 20 minutes, and Kuether briefly grabbed the lead away.
In the end, it was simply Garibli’s title to win. Regularly a cash game pro, Garibli finally secured the title in his first career poker tournament just before 12:45 am ET.
In an appropriate conclusion to a day that saw so many suckouts, Kuether limped the button, Garibli shoved and Kuether called with J J. Garibli’s K 8 was woefully behind, but a K 7 4 flop flipped the script. The turn was the A and the river was the 3 – earning Garibli the trophy along with his $1,105,040 payday.
“To be honest I’m happy I cashed, but let’s just say I’d rather win first place,” Garibli said to the PokerStars blog hours before he finally secured the title. “The pay jumps between sixth and seventh don’t really affect me that much. So I’m going for the big money. I hope that can happen.”
It was a much different story more than 12 hours earlier. Khoroshenin was among the top stacks, while Kuether starting second from the bottom. The chips shifted dramatically over the next two hours, but not a single one of the 11 players who returned would go down.
Bryn Kenney’s elimination broke the stalemate just before the first break as Kuether’s 8 8 bested Kenney’s A J on an A K 8 flop. It was the culmination of a tremendous couple of levels for Kuether, who rocketed all the way up to second. It would be almost an hour before Dominik Nitsche went out on a bad beat as Garibli’s A J outflopped Nitsche’s A Q.
The first real indication of how many bad beats would be doled out on the final day of this tournament started to become clear as Lee Markholt’s pocket kings were snapped off by Scott Seiver’s pocket nines when the 9 landed in the door card. With Markholt’s elimination in ninth, the official final table was set.
Dan Heimiller went out on yet another brutal hand as Faraz Jaka’s A 8 cracked his K K with an A A T flop. Jaka lost almost all of his chips with Q Q against Jean-Pascal Savard’s A Q with an A on the river, but Jaka fought back for a bit on three big blinds.
In a rare outcome for this final table, Savard’s A K held against Jaka’s A 6 to bust him in seventh place. Seiver scored a miracle double through Garibli with pocket queens against pocket kings, and the carnival kept rolling along six-handed into the dinner break.
Nick Petrangelo ran K J into Kuether’s A A to bust in sixth just after players returned from their break. Savard returned Seiver’s previous favor as his T T made a four-flush to crack Seiver’s J J on the river. The bigger hit was soon to come as Garibli made Seiver’s exit a painful one to say the least.
In a pot that eventually swelled to more than 7 million, Seiver got all in on an 8 7 3 flop with 7 7 against Garibli’s T T. “Please hold,” cried Seiver, perhaps sensing that yet another instance of ridiculousness was on its way. The A turn gave Garibli a flush draw to go with his two outs to a set, and the K completed the flush – sending a stunned Seiver out in fifth.
Garibli had well over 8 million at this point – with Oleksii Khoroshenin, Savard and Kuether combine holding less than 5 million. Khoroshenin got A K to hold up against Savard’s A 9 and absorbed his stack, sending the Canadian out in fourth with just over $500,000.
Khoroshenin’s good fortune was short-lived, though, as Kuether’s A 3 connected on a flop and Khoroshenin’s A T did not – giving Kuether a much-needed double. Kuether came from behind a second time with A 7 against Khoroshenin’s A Q – only this time, as the 9 8 6 3 T runout gave Kuether a straight, Khoroshenin was done in third place.
Kuether was down more than 2-to-1, but he and Garibli made a deal that saw each guarantee themselves over $1 million. He fell short a number of times, but every time he needed to Kuether seemed to find a crucial double to stay alive.
2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 High Roller – Final Results
- Ilkin Garibli – $1,105,040
- Joe Kuether – $1,050,000
- Oleksii Khoroshenin – $629,460
- Jean-Pascal Savard – $508,080
- Scott Seiver – $398,340
- Nick Petrangelo – $301,500
- Faraz Jaka – $221,440
- Dan Heimiller – $162,700
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