Sometimes a player takes control of a final table early on and never looks back – and that was seemingly the case for Kevin Schulz Wednesday as he caught fire on his way to winning the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event.
Schulz had to contend with a number of tough players on his way to victory, but he was cool, calm and collected in the aftermath of defeating Diego Ventura heads-up and taking home his first major title and $1,491,580.
“I’ve been playing poker for nearly 10 years,” said Schulz. “I came to my first one of these in 2006 and thought it was the coolest thing ever. This is one of the premier events of the year, so winning this – I don’t want to make it seem like I’m unhappy or anything. This is awesome.”
He held a big chiplead going into heads-up play with Ventura, but a double-up for the shorter stack led to the first hiccup in some time for Schulz. Schulz knocked Ventura back down over the next 20 hands, and then got put to the test with the tournament on the line.
Schulz limped the button, Ventura checked and the flop fell Q 6 4. Ventura checked, Shulz bet 365,000 and Ventura called – bringing the K on the turn. Ventura checked a third time, Schulz bet 775,000 and Ventura called once more. The river was the 6, Ventura checked for the fourth and final time and Schulz bet 900,000. This time Ventura shoved for 3.1 million total and Schulz thought for almost a minute before calling.
Ventura hung his head and showed T 4 for just a pair of fours, and with K 3 Schulz’s pair of kings earned him the title.
The final day saw six players come back; despite making the official EPT Main Event final table on Tuesday night, Dylan Linde and Pratyush Buddiga didn’t get to play on the tournament’s final day due to timing concerns – and their exits in back-to-back hands brought Day 5 of the tournament to end. They both came at Schulz’s hands.
“That was really exciting,” said Schulz. “I had a really big flip against Dylan Linde there – really big for both of us – I happened to win and I was happy too. I thought he played pretty well. Then the very next hand I looked down at aces. I was able to run good against two of the better guys at this final table.”
Rami Boukai began Wednesday with less than 10 big blinds, and he shoved on the third hand to take down the blinds and antes. He shoved again on Hand 5 with 3 3 for 910,000, but the second time around Niklas Hambitzer called with A Q. The A 7 6 flop left Boukai in dire shape, but the 5 turn gave him four more outs with a straight draw. The 6 river paired the board, and Boukai’s inferior two-pair sent him to the rail in sixth in short order.
Schulz started the day just behind Chance Kornuth in the chip counts, but within two orbits he’d taken over the lead for the first of several occasions. Hambitzer won a number of significant pots – including a 3.8 million chip monster from Kornuth without a showdown after flopping top two pair – and Hambitzer eventually passed both Schulz and Kornuth as those three distanced themselves from Ventura and Juan Martin Pastor.
Pastor made more than his fair share of bold moves over the course of this tournament, but an unavoidable cooler would spell his doom. He started the action with a raise to 230,000 and Schulz three-bet – prompting an unusually quick move from Pastor, who four-bet all in. With A A, Schulz predictably snap-called and Pastor needed a miracle with A K. The K J 4 gave him tangible outs, but the 4 and A were of little consequence as Schulz’s full house sent the Argentinian out in fifth.
Within 50 hands they were down to four, and the counts grew even closer as both Ventura and Kornuth flopped top pair on a Q 6 4 flop; Ventura’s kicker was better and he doubled. Kornuth yo-yo’d several times, and after falling into the shortest stack he soon climbed back to the top for the briefest of moments.
Schulz reestablished his dominance by clearing 10 million and then 13 million after Kornuth bricked a flush draw and hero-called with queen-high anyway. That gave Schulz well over half the chips in play, and while it left Kornuth with just over 10 big blinds there’d be a little more life left in his tournament.
Kornuth open-shipped for 1.7 million in the small blind and Hambitzer called in the big blind with K J. A 7 put Kornuth in the lead at the start, but the K T 7 flop put Hambitzer comfortably ahead. The 5 put Kornuth on the brink with just six outs going into the river, but the 7 saved his tournament and gave him the double.
Hambitzer was put in an equally precarious position – only he wouldn’t escape. Ventura raised to 250,000, Schulz three-bet to 625,000 and Hambitzer cold four-bet all in for 1,285,000. Ventura got out of the way, but Schulz was committed and called with Q 9. Hambitzer’s A Q was pretty far ahead, but the 9 7 3 flop put the chipleader further ahead. The 9 turn closed the book on Hambitzer, who got up from his seat and said his goodbyes as the 6 officially ended his 2015 PCA Main Event run in fourth.
After getting perilously short once again, Kornuth shoved for 1.2 million with A 8 and Schulz called with A 4. The A J 5 flop changed very little, but the 3 turn gave Schulz a straight draw – albeit one with only two outs as Ventura had folded pocket deuces. The 2 indeed hit the river, however, and Kornuth was knocked out two spots shy of the title.
Schulz started his heads-up battle with Ventura holding a lead of just shy of 4-to-1, but Ventura fought hard to keep his head above water. In one of the biggest hands of their heads-up match, Ventura three-bet to 1.2 million and then called all in for 4.4 million with A 9. Schulz had 3 3, but a 9 on the flop earned Ventura a double and reduced Schulz’s lead to 15.5 million to 8.9 million.
Over the next 20 hands or so, however, Schulz reclaimed control of the match by winning a number of pots with no showdown. On the 143rd and final hand played Wednesday, Schulz made the right call on the river and dispatched Ventura – locking up the title and a payday that dwarfed all of his previous live results.
While the Main Event has wrapped here at the 2015 PCA, there’s still one big title left to be decided – the $25,000 High Roller. They’ll crown a champion of their own Wednesday night, and BLUFF will have a full recap of that event shortly after it concludes.
2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event – Final Results
- Kevin Schulz – $1,491,580
- Diego Ventura – $907,080
- Chance Kornuth – $641,140
- Niklas Hambitzer – $482,820
- Juan Martin Pastor – $380,720
- Rami Boukai – $285,740
- Pratyush Buddiga – $203,420
- Dylan Linde – $140,900
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