Collins Mixes It Up On Route to Season 16 Title
With another successful Season in the books the very elite of the Red Hot Poker Tour gathered to show their skills, make their moves, and pray their hands hold up enough to take home the Tournament of Champions title.
The Tournament of Champions for Season 16 occurred in the wake of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics opening ceremony. With the highlights of the international competition still playing on the screens in the background, the best that the Red Hot Poker Tour has to offer were ready to start the intense competition in their “games” — the long distance marathon to the final table.
Those in attendance may not have been representing their country – yet, but they were representing all the regions of Red Hot Poker Tour. The top players from London, Toronto, GTA, HBO, KWC, and Windsor arrived with one goal in mind — taking back the Tournament of Champions trophy along with one of two seats to the 2010 World Series of Poker.
Starting with the familiar 4000 chips, players had some extra time in the blinds levels. Raising every forty minutes, the blind structure allowed players to be more patient and let their poker skills shine.
With players in their seats anxious to get things started at Norma Jeanes in Mississauga, they were ready for the Season 15 Champion, Jenna Mischuk to utter the four most exciting words in poker — “Shuffle up and deal!”
The sounds of shuffling chips, elated cheers, and cries to the poker gods (usually in the form of “Nooooo! Why Me?’) filled the grounds of the Championship.
Twelve tables shrunk to ten, then eight, then six as those exiting the tournament started to plan their attack for next season.
Five hours into the game, the players and spectators remaining took a break for dinner as the remaining four tables were ready to see battle between the remaining 36 players.
The field depleted, and the blinds catching up, those with a real shot at winning the whole thing started to emerge.
HBO’s Lindsay Howatt made a huge impression after the break. He single handily knocked out four players to take the chip lead to the final two remaining tables.
Lindsay was nowhere qualifying in the final three weeks of the season. He was convinced to get serious and focus to ensure he made the Tournament of Champions and capture the crown. Lindsay’s focus paid off as he earned a whopping 9000 points in those final three weeks of the season. Now chip leader coming into the final 18 players, it was clear that his hard work was worth it.
Season 9 Champion Jennifer Garlicki’s night appeared to be over as her chip stack was dwindled to short stack affording her only the options of all in or fold.
Experience gave her the confidence to know how quickly things can change, so Jennifer didn’t seem too concerned about the size of her stack as the former champion was well aware that she had all she needed — a chip and a chair.
She proceeded to doubled up holding Ace-4 against GTA’s Rommel Leyson’s 10-5. Rommel was more than priced in on the big blind and saw his chips shipped Jennifer’s way when she made trip fours on the river.
She then doubled up again in dramatic fashion after going all in with pocket 7s against an Ace-Jack. An ace hit on the flop, but the two outer hit on the river giving her a set of 7s.
She then woke up with pocket aces to take out Rommel holding an Ace-King suited. Now a threat for the title she said “that’s why I’m Gar-lucky.”
Though luck is hardly the reasons she has had repeated Tournament of Champions appearances.
Toronto’s Pascal Toussaint also rose from the dead after winning two crucial toss-up’s while holding pocket 10’s. First against GTA’s Bob Johnson’s King-Queen. Then against Toronto’s Constandinos Stavroupolous’ Ace-King on a K-K-4-10-Q board.
Hand for hand play saw a reluctance from the players to get their chips in. Every player wanted to take down the championship, but the next step was making the final table.
It was only a matter of time before two big pairs went up against each other. That was precisely what happened as Toronto’s Jordan Denk holding QQ pushed all in against Constandinos’ AA. The aces held and Jordan was down to a baby sized stack.
The following hand the soft spoken Dwayne delivered the kill shot holding pocket nines against Jordon’s blind all in with Ace-3. With that, the Season 16 Final Table was set, featuring five players who have made a Final Table in the past, as well as a former Champion.
The chip counts at the start of the Final Table were as follows:
Lloyd Clarke Windsor 115,000
Lindsay Howatt HBO 92,000
Constandinos Stavroupolous Toronto 65,000
Jennifer Garlicki London 52,000
Dwaye Collins London 49,000
Jesse Duguay Windsor 47,000
Bob Clemmer KWC 35,000
Ron Fahner London 29,000
Pascal Toussaint Toronto 13,000
The two chip leaders appeared to have a stranglehold on the tournament. Lindsay kept his momentum going by knocking out much of the competition at the final two tables. As did Windsor’s Lloyd Clarke who kept his same seat at the same table for virtually the entire tournament. Watching players come and go from his table, Lloyd took his much deserved big stack to his second Final Table in three Seasons.
Sensing the need to double up quickly Pascal quickly climbed out of the basement on the first hand holding 10-8, catching a 10 on the flop against Constandinos’ 44.
Jennifer and Dwayne then got all their chips in on a board that showed 10-10-10. Hoping her run would extend to the final table, Jennifer rolled over pocket 8s making a full house 10s full of 8s. But Dwayne Collins, who ironically Jennifer recently brought to Red Hot, crushed her when he showed a King-10. His quads had Jennifer drawing dead on the flop.
Jennifer’s run officially came to an end the next hand when her now tiny stack vanished as her Queen-3 could not develop and she became the first casualty at the final table finishing an impressive 9th place.
London’s Ron Fahner, the second place finisher in Season 12, was unfortunately next to go. He went all in with 9-9 only to find out he was dominated by Lindsay’s Jack-Jack. With a Jack on the turn, Ron’s day was over and the field was down to 7 players.
Lindsay kept the pressure on. A few hands later he found himself in a dominated position holding 4-4 against Windsor’s Jesse Duguay’s All In with Ace-Ace. The board appeared to be safe for Jesse as the first three cards were 6-2-7, but when the turn was a 5 Lindsay had new life and began begging the poker gods for a 4 or 3 and as if on cue the river brought the the dagger, a three. Lindsay’s pocket 4s overthrew Jesse’s Aces by way of a 7 high straight. Jesse, crushed but in great spirits, completed his day in 7th place.
Pascal was next to take his leave. Still trying to turn his short stack around, Pascal went all in with a King-Jack. He was confronted by Lloyd’s QQ. Unable to catch a King, Pascal was eliminated by his Final Table mate in Season 14. The rich got richer and play was down to a five handed game.
The next hour of the game became a grueling match as the Championship title was within everyone’s grasp . Not a single knockout occurred in that hour as the pressure mounted and all knew that one wrong decision could mean the difference between Champion and busting out.
In a puzzling move to the assembled crowd, the low stack, Bob Clemmer resorted to full out speeches before making any move assuring him that the next Blind would further cripple his stack. Players and the Tournament Director eventually resorted to calling a clock on HBO’s Clemmer on several occasions in efforts to speed the game up.
Not a stranger to the Final Table at the Tournament of Champions, Bob wanted to relish in his record fourth appearance at the final table. In doing so he tested the patience of the players around him, but was assured the focus of everyone, not to mention a few chuckles along the way.
After surviving several All-In’s, Bob was the next to fall. His Jack-9 almost toppled Dwayne’s likely new favorite hand of King-10. The flop came K-9-J. Then a King and a 6 as the turn-river eliminated the ”Toastmaster” in 5th place, where he was awarded Howie Mandel’s new book: “You’re Not Even in the Hand.”
The following hand took out the chip leader coming into the final table. Lloyd pushed his chips in with Ace-Jack and was eliminated by none other than Lindsay holding pocket fives. After a spectacular day of savvy poker, this time nothing developing on the board, and Lloyd became the fourth place finisher, improving on his 7th place in Season 14.
The battle of the final three was nothing short of intense. Blinds were being picked off and the hands that made it to the flop were either taken by the first bet or checked down to the river. If these three could survive just one more player they were headed to Vegas.
The anticipation, excitement, and upbeat attitudes of the day were replaced by the dreary and exhausted faces of the warriors of the felt.
Sensing desperation and the need to make a move Constandinos pushed all 82,000 of his chips in with a J-9. Dwayne insta-called as he woke up with pocket queens. The board came 7-4-K-6-A and Constandinos left in third place.
Though tired, Dwayne and Lindsay were relieved to make the final two and earn themselves a ticket to the 2010 WSOP. Now it was time to play for the glory of the being Champion.
Lindsay, who ended Season 16 on one of the hottest streaks was up against Dwayne, the newcomer, who joined Red Hot London in September of 2009.
Despite the stakes, Dwayne and Lindsay showed a great deal of class when going up against each other. They joked, had fun, and congratulated each other’s play. They did all this while trying to hang on for the Championship.
Dwayne, after having the patience to endure an up and down Final Table, where at one point he was near to being the low stack, he was able to observe and store some insight on his nemesis. Lindsay’s style of pressure poker was met by an unflappable Dwayne who continued to re-raise Lindsay and emerge with a 2:1 chip lead. On a limp pot the board came 2d-6h-Qd. After a bet, raise, and re-raise All In, Dwyane called with a flush and inside straight draw holding 4d-3d against Lindsay’s 8d-6c. Lindsay was ahead. But the turn-river came 6d then 7c.
With a Queen high flush Dwayne Collins became the Champion of Season 16.
Despite falling just short of the championship Lindsay was ecstatic over his finish.
“This was a great experience,” said Lindsay. “I feel like this is the best I’ve ever played.”
With the utmost respect for his competition he added, “If I’m going to lose to anyone, I’m glad it was Dwayne.”
Dwayne found himself short of words to describe the feeling of victory.
“I don’t know what to say I’m speechless” Said Dwayne. “The last hand I had an inside and a flush draw and if I Iost we would still be pretty even; I’m glad the diamond came.”
He too had nothing but praise when he talked about his heads-up competitor.
“Lindsay is a great player–carefree–I learned a lot from him,” he said. “I’m happy I was here today, this a very professional tournament and being at the WSOP will be another great experience.”
And with that the winners are headed off to the 2010 WSOP representing the Red Hot Poker Tour. For Lloyd Howatt and new Champion Dwayne Collins this opportunity is a huge addition to their poker portfolio… and their next stop? Vegas Baby!