Things were already going pretty well for Keven Stammen through the first four months of 2014, with 10 cashes, a WPT final table, an LAPC side event win and $337,623 to his credit before he even showed up in Atlantic City. By the time the final card sealed his victory in the 2014 WPT World Championship Saturday night, things had entered a completely different stratosphere.
Stammen, the online poker veteran and 2009 World Series of Poker bracelet winner, defeated Byron Kaverman heads-up to clinch the final WPT title of Season XII and $1,350,000 – the biggest win of his poker career. He entered the final table with the chiplead, facing five strong opponents, and despite losing the chiplead for exactly two hands of heads-up play Stammen rarely seemed to falter when the pots mattered most.
Heads-up play between Stammen and Kaverman, who are long-time friends from their time on the tournament ciruit, began with Stammen holding a chiplead of 10.9 million to 5.5 million. Kaverman quickly leveled things out on the fifth hand of their match when he took down a 4.3 million chip pot, leading the whole way on a 6 4 3 T 3 runout and showing down K T. That gave Kaverman a lead of less than a big blind, which he traded the following hand.
Kaverman reached his peak on the following hand with a lead of 8.6 million to 7.8 million. It would also be the last time Kaverman had the most chips.
Stammen chipped Kaverman down, and took a serious lead by making trip fours with A 4 to take a 3.7 million chip pot. Kaverman seriously considered a decision that could have put him back in the match, tanking for eight minutes on a board of Q 9 7 A with J 8 before finally and reluctantly releasing his hand. Kaverman did actually have the best hand on that board against Stammen’s T 8.
It would get as close as 3-to-1, but Kaverman was fighting an uphill battle for the remainder of the match. On the 151st hand of the final table and the 38th hand of heads-up play, Stammen limped the button, Kaverman shipped his 16 big blind stack and Stammen called. It was a race between Stammen’s A 8 and Kaverman’s 4 4, and it looked as if Kaverman would make it close again as the Q 9 6 flop and 3 river kept him ahead.
Shouts of “Barry Greenstein” were heard as Stammen’s friends cheered for an ace on the river. After a long pause, the dealer burned and dealt the A to an explosion of cheers, sealing Stammen’s victory and bringing Season XII to a close.
Abe Korotki started this final table comfortably in third place, but after he lost two three-bet pots in a row to Stammen and Kaverman, the three shortest stacks were suddenly much closer. Midway through the second orbit of the day, Korotki and Ryan D’Angelo locked horns in a massive hand that was seemingly made for TV.
Korotki was first to act, and he raised to 115,000. It folded all the way around to D’Angelo in the small blind and he three-bet to 300,000, only for Korotki to quickly four-bet all in. D’Angelo called off his stack and tabled K K, which had Korotki in trouble with A Q until the A T 3 flop gave him the lead – albeit a precarious one as D’Angelo flopped a flush draw. Korotki dodged the turn, which was the 7, and he had a chance to become a serious factor if he held on and won the pot.
After a long pause, the river was dealt. It wasn’t a heart, but the K gave D’Angelo a winning set and cut Korotki down to just over 11 big blinds. Korotki took down just enough blinds and antes to keep his head above water for the next 25 hands, and with Curt Kohlberg falling quickly down the chip counts it looked as if Korotkai might at least earn a pay jump before going out.
His attempts at taking down the blinds ran into a roadblock as D’Angelo once again stood in Korotkai’s way. D’Angelo raised to 130,000 on the button, Korotki three-bet all in from the big blind and D’Angelo snapped him off with A J. Korotki was in need of some help from the board, but the T 8 4 3 J runout offered nothing of the sort, making him the first casualty of the day and the sixth place finisher.
It took 34 hands for the first elimination from this table, and exactly twice as many hands to get to the second. In that time there wasn’t much in the way of stagnation, though, as the chips moved around like crazy – more often than not eventually finding their way into Stammen’s stack. The short stacks simply refused to die, with six consecutive all-ins keeping the at-risk player alive.
Curt Kohlberg was the first to get a double with A T against Stammen’s 5 5, while Tony Dunst got a double of his own when Kaverman essentially committed himself with 8 9 and couldn’t catch up to Dunst’s K K.
D’Angelo pair of call downs against Stammen that turned out to be wrong in this stretch – the first coming in a 3 million chip pot with A T against Stammen’s K T on a Q 9 7 J A runout, which included a five minute tank on river. Another 2.5 million chip pot was built on a board that eventually read J 9 5 7 9, and D’Angelo called down to the river only to see A 7 from Stammen, making him the shortest stack by a long way.
He’d soon double that stack through Dunst, with his K 3 connecting with a K on the flop to stave of Dunst and his J 9, along with elimination for the time being. Kohlberg took a big chunk of Dunst’s stack too, as his A 9 held up against Dunst’s K Q for a big double that suddenly left the Raw Deal host as the short stack.
D’Angelo made it five double-ups in a row for the short stacks, getting the first big suck-out of the bunch as his A Q spiked a Q on the flop to snatch the pot away from Kaverman and his A K. Kaverman would get those back and thensome as he and Kohlberg got all in with very similar stacks. The A J held for Kaverman against Kohlberg’s A 8, sending Kaverman shooting up to second on Hand 100 and leaving Kohlberg with less than two big blinds.
Kohlberg picked up a great hand for such a short stack with K J and he got it in against Kaverman’s 6 6. The Q J 2 flop significantly improved Kohlberg’s hand, and the 8 turn left him dodging just two outs going into the river. The 6 sent an audible gasp, then a cheer from the crowd as Kaverman spiked his set and finally reduced the field from five to four. Kohlberg was left to settle for the second fifth place WPT finish of his career at his third WPT final table.
Dunst was perilously short-stacked when four-handed play began, but he got another crucial double through D’Angelo, with his A J staying firmly ahead against D’Angelo’s Q T throughout the A 9 4 9 7 runout. They essentially traded stacks, with D’Angelo suddenly left as the one most at risk.
Action folded around to D’Angelo in the small blind on the next hand, and he shoved his last seven big blinds in with 9 5. Kaverman thought it over for quite some time before calling with Q 2 and neither player connected to the A 7 6 T K runout, giving him the pot and another elimination. D’Angelo’s fourth place finish in the WPT fifth WPT cash of Season XII, which also included a final table bubble at WPT Rolling Thunder.
There would only be four hands of three-handed play until Dunst made another stand of his own. He open-shoved for just over 12 big blinds with A 2 and Stammen called in the big blind with K 6. The K 5 3 flop was all Stammen, but Dunst still had seven outs going into the turn. That was reduced to four outs on the K turn, and Dunst couldn’t hit as the 7 sent him to the rail in third place. Dunst, who won WPT Caribbean (and his Championship seat) in November, was the only Season XII winner at this final table.
Stammen carried a 2-to-1 lead into heads-up play, but the stacks fluctuated wildly in the early going. Kaverman very briefly grabbed the lead twice for one hand a piece, but after the hand in which he tanked for eight-plus minutes, Kaverman would not recover. He lost the one and only all-in of heads-up, and Stammen stood victorious to end Season XII of the World Poker Tour.
This win will propel Stammen into the top three of the 2014 BLUFF Player of the Year race next week, making him the third player to clear 600 POY points so far this year.
2014 WPT World Championship – Final Payouts
- Keven Stammen – $1,350,000
- Byron Kaverman – $727,860
- Tony Dunst – $452,729
- Ryan D’Angelo – $363,930
- Curt Kohlberg – $286,292
- Abe Korotki – $235,341
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