Alex Kuzmin’s stay at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi was only intended to be a layover. It might be one of the most profitable layovers in history though, as the Russian poker pro took down the World Poker Tour Southern Poker Championship at the Beau Rivage in only his second WPT tournament on American soil.
So how did Kuzmin get to Biloxi in the first place? He had a plane ticket from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas that required him to layover on US soil before heading back to Russia, so he headed to the Gulf shore and figured he’d take a couple of days to play some poker while he was there.
The move paid off, as Kuzmin defeated a final table full of pros, including past Southern Poker Champion Allen Carter, Shannon Shorr, two-time WSOP bracelet winner Ryan Hughes, and Leif Force.
Kuzmin came into the final table neck and neck with Carter for the chip lead. Kuzmin had the chip advantage, but many were suggesting this was Carter’s tournament to win. After all, he took down this very event in Season VII and could make history by becoming the first player to win the same WPT event twice. With the shortest stack at 40 big blinds though, it was truly anybody’s race.
The final table saw chips come and go from just about every player’s stack. The action kicked off with a bang with Patrick Mahoney doubling through Hughes when they got it all-in on a QT2 flop holding QT for two pair to Hughes’ 98 for flush and straight draws. Hughes made his flush with the J on the turn, but the Q on the river filled Mahoney up and gave him the pot.
Hughes hit the rail in sixth at the hands of Shorr shortly thereafter and it was another river beat that sent Mahoney packing in fifth place. Mahoney was in great shape when he got it all-in preflop holding pocket kings to his friend Force’s pocket queens, but Force ran out a spade flush to eliminate his pal. Don’t feel too bad for Mahoney though. He and Force swapped 25% of each other, so he returned to sweat the action a little while later.
With four players remaining, Carter started to pull away from the pack, amassing more chips than the rest of the table combined. Even after doubling up Force and Shorr, Carter still held the big stack and it got a little bigger when he finished off Shorr in fourth place. Shorr was getting down to the felt after doubling up Kuzmin when his nut flush draw couldn’t draw out on Kuzmin’s overpair of kings and Carter picked off Shorr’s small blind steal a little while later to trim the field to three.
The momentum seemed to be in Carter’s corner, but then nothing seemed to go his way during three-handed play. He went from chip leader to short stack when he got it all-in holding top pair to Force’s two pair and failed to improve. His dreams at winning a second Beau Rivage title came to an end when the aggressive Texas pro made a move with J9. Kuzmin tank-called him with AQ and, while Carter was able to turn top pair, Kuzmin rivered a flush to take play to heads-up.
Force and Kuzmin battled back and forth for over two hours, but Force had trouble doing much more than treading water against his opponent. He slipped down once, doubling back into contention, but his second attempt to double thru the Russian was less successful. Running low on chips, Force called all-in with J9 and was up against Kuzmin’s K4. Force failed to improve and Kuzmin took down the title after a more than twelve-hour long battle, earning $601,469 for his efforts.
Not too shabby for a quick stopover.
Here are the final table results from the Southern Poker Championship:
1st: Alex Kuzmin – $601,469 (includes a $25,000 seat in the WPT Championship)
2nd: Leif Force – $315,790
3rd: Allen Carter – $218,471
4th: Shannon Shorr – $144,985
5th: Pat Mahoney – $113,208
6th: Ryan Hughes – $89,375
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