It was just over nine months ago when Rocco Palumbo broke a four year drought for Italian players at the World Series of Poker when he won his first career bracelet. Palumbo added the second major title of his career Saturday when he outlasted the likes of Mike Sexton and others to emerge victorious at WPT Venice.
After starting the day in a tie for fourth, well behind the lead pack, Palumbo took a number of early pots and made a tremendous run that would eventually take him towards the lead during four and five-handed play. After Sexton went out in third place Palumbo took on fellow Italian Marcello Montagner with a chiplead of 3-to-2, a match Palumbo would go on to dominate.
On the final hand Montagner three-bet Palumbo, who called, and the J T 8 saw a bet from Montagner and a three-bet for Palumbo, which Montagner quickly called. Montagner shoved the 4 turn and Palumbo snap-called with J 8, needing to fade 10 outs as Montagner’s 9 9 needed to make a straight or a set on the river to keep the tournament going. The 3 would change nothing as Palumbo claimed victory and earned €140,000 ($180,097) for his troubles.
It was a dramatic shift from the start of the day, as the eyes of the poker world were largely focused on Sexton, the Poker Hall of Famer making his second career WPT final table. He was in third behind Montagner and Roberto Begni, with Palumbo and Erion Islamay tied in fourth with 20 big blinds and Xia Lin bringing up the rear. Palumbo’s and Islamay’s paths would diverge dramatically, as Islamay’s open-shove with A 6 was called Montagner with T T. The T 8 5 flop was a bleak one, but the 7 on the turn gave Islamay a straight draw and hopes of staying alive. The 6 on the river would reduce the field to five as Islamay made his exit in sixth place.
Palumbo would make his push towards the top as he picked up A A and got a full double-up through Begni as his A Q couldn’t come close to cracking the aces. Lin would be unable to come back from his 15 big blind stack as he fell to the unstoppable force that was Palumbo. Lin three-bet all-in over a raise from Palumbo and a call from Begni, which brought a four-bet isolation shove from Palumbo and a fold from Begni. Palumbo’s A J stayed ahead of Lin’s A 6 throughout and even made a straight as it ran out T 9 8 Q 5 to send Lin out in fifth.
Begni had little go right for him throughout the day, but he had a glimmer of hope with his tournament on the line. Montagner committed himself with a raise in a blind vs. blind confrontation against Begni, forcing a call with J 2 against Begni’s A 6. It looked like a much-needed double-up for Begni on the Q Q 7 flop and 5 turn, but the 2 on the river gave Montagner the only pair and ended Begni’s tournament in fourth place.
Sexton’s hopes of finding victory on a tour that he has become so well associated with would have to go through the two Italians, but it was simply not to be on this day. Sexton opened from the button and both players called as the flop came out J 7 6. Sexton bet again and was called by only Montagner and the A came on the turn. Sexton shoved and was immediately called by Montagner, who had turned two-pair with A 7, leaving Sexton with just two outs with his J 9. The 5 would not do it as Sexton ended an impressive showing with a third place finish and nearly $70,000.
It was all over after just 20 minutes of heads-up play, as Palumbo added his name to the WPT Champions Cup. The next stop on tour keeps the WPT in Europe as they head to Barcelona for an event that kicks off on April 5.
Here are the final table payouts for the 2013 WPT Venice Main Event.
- Rocco Palumbo – $180,097
- Marcello Montagner – $108,316
- Mike Sexton – $69,723
- Roberto Begni – $51,585
- Xia Lin – $38,721
- Erion Islamay – $31,002
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