Charm Looking for a Bracelet – Tournament of Champions 21
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October 31, 2011 – 12:19 PM | No Comment

By Mike Nelson
For the twenty first time players made their entrance to the grounds of the Tournament of Champions, as a field of 140 Red Hot Poker Tour elite entered the tournament …

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Jensen on the Button … from SPC to Red Hot Poker Tour Champion

Submitted by on June 19, 2010 – 6:52 PMNo Comment

After another season jam packed with bad beats, suck outs, slow plays, and great plays, the crème de la crème of the Red Hot Poker Tour assembled at Norma Jeanes in Mississauga to determine the final Members representing Team Canada at the 2010 World Series of Poker.

It was a red hot day in every respect. The summer heat outside was nothing in comparison to the scorching intensity of play that reached the felt.

It was certainly the kind of day where relaxing at the beach was a tempting option. This was not to be for the top players at the Tournament of Champions. A day trip to one of Ontario’s beautiful beaches would be fun; but heading to Vegas for the WSOP, a huge payday, followed by a lifetime of leisure is a much more attractive endeavor.

They came from all over Ontario to show their skills and distinguish themselves as the top dog of Canada’s largest poker community.

The new faces mingled with the seasoned veterans from all regions all with the same goal in mind.

Last season’s champ Dwayne Collins, hailing from the London region, had the honour of uttering the sweet music to a poker players ears: “Shuffle up and deal!”

With that the first hand was dealt out as play got underway.

The players started with the familiar 4,000 chip stack (80 big blinds) with 40 minute levels making the skill level needed to succeed high according to Arnold Snyder’s poker tournament formula. The extended time between levels gives players the opportunity to work their strategy, watch their opponents, and wait a little longer prior to ‘forcing a move.’

With the action coming from all reaches of the tournament grounds, players started to make their moves, and in many cases, their exits. Six hours into the tournament, the field or 132 was reduced to a surprising 31 players as they broke for dinner.

The field included several Red Hot Poker Tour veterans. Gary Bigger, the Tournament of Champions 11 Champ, and fresh off his victory at the Showdown for a seat to the WSOP, graced the field with his presence. Massive all time points leader Bill Bawden, the Season 17 second place finisher in points, and the runner up in the Showdown was on the short stack, but very much alive.

Season 17 points champion for Toronto, Vu Minh Du, entered play with a vulnerable stack. It would soon be decimated to just 1000 chips, just enough to cover the big blind. Poker being the spectacular game that it is, this short stack would not get Vu down. He’d been down before, as we all are on occasion, but he was resolved that this was not the last we would hear from him at Tournament of Champions 17.

Also gracing the final four tables was none other than … “Shrek.” That’s right the green ogre, otherwise known as Justin Shott of HBO, was able to dodge the play of his long time friend ‘Donkey!’ and take his stack to the final two tables.

Among these Red Hot Poker Tour elite were two fresh faces to the Red Hot scene. Mike Gallagher of Peterborough and Marcus Suikki of Newmarket were both very much alive coming into the final 18 players.

These players won there seat by winning the inaugural wildcard event in their respective locations. With the two players sitting next to each other as the field continued to shrink, it appeared for a while that both had a shot at being the Cinderella and going the distance.

Though close, Mike took the title of bubble boy, finishing in tenth place. An excellent start for Mike and the Peterborough region!

With over 120 eliminations, that’s over 120 unsuccessful all in shoves, the nine remaining were hoping to grow their stacks and take down the Season 17 Championship.

Coming into the Final Table the chip standings were as follows:

1. Santos Ortiz – Windsor – 140,000

2. Scott Randall – Toronto – 118,000

3. Chris Jensen – HBO – 99,000

4. Brian Taylor – Toronto – 69,000

5. Vu Minh Du – Toronto – 55,000 – Toronto Points Champ

6. Justin Shott – HBO – 51,000

7. Lisa Clayton – HBO – 50,000 – Overall Points Champ

7. Shawn Slattery – GTA – 50,000 – GTA Points Champ

9. Marcus Suikki – Newmarket – 4,000

Newcomer Marcus came to the final table as the baby stack and was forced all in on the initial hand on the big blind and was the first eliminated, after a stellar first time run. Coming back from the basement, Vu made the final table with a healthy chip stack and was the one to deliver the first knockout. Holding a Q9, his nine paired beating Marcus’ J-7.

The green ogre (Justin) was next to push all in. In late position he pushed with wired fives. Scott Randall of Toronto to his left snapped called and rolled up his over-pair, pocket sevens. The flop left little suspense as another seven emerged. With the board 10 3 7 8 6, the colorful Shrek had to make his way back to the swamp.

Santos Ortiz of Windsor, who has made it all the way to three handed at the Tournament of Champions 9, recorded the next out. Vu, the comeback story of the Tournament of Champions, shoved all his chips with a King-seven. Santos called and was ahead with his Ace-Jack. The board came 10 8 2 5 9 and Vu was sent packing.

Santo’s chip stack continued to grow as did Scott’s with some aggressive play at the final table. For a stretch the two of them were taking down every flop.

“Jensen turned his stack into the big stack when he re-raised all in with pocket 10?s and was called, after much deliberation, by Santos’s pocket 6?s. Santos’s hand failed to improve and Jensen took down a huge pot.”

As the final table reached its second hour the table seemed ready for a break to stretched and clear their heads. Tournament Director Scott MacFayden was poised to set a break until Brian Taylor exclaimed “I’m taking a break one way or another” and pushed his short stack all in. After calculating some pot odds, Santos called from the big blind. Brian was holding KQ and Santos showed nine-five. The board came J 3 J 10 then a 5 on the river. Brian would have to settle for 6th place.

Returning from break, Lisa Clayton, shoved with Ace-six of diamonds and fellow HBO player, Chris Jensen called with pocket Jacks. The board came Q 7 2 4 10 with Lisa Clayton capping a phenomenal season with a Final Table exit in fifth place. Lisa had an excellent season 17. She is the first to complete a rare tri-fecta as the Overall points champion, the Top Female player, and Hardcore Champion. Though her fifth place finish was just shy of taking down the title, it wasn’t her first deep run at the Tournament of Champions, and most certainly won’t be the last.

Shortly afterwards Scott and Shawn found themselves competing for another huge pot. Scott raised in late position and Shawn shoved all in from the big blind. Likely putting his opponent on a small ace or small pocket pair Scott asked Shawn if he felt like gambling, then announced his call. Scott turned over Queen-10 and Shawn showed him the made hand when he flipped up his pocket Jacks. The board didn’t change anything and Shawn made the clutch double up. In his jubilation the GTA points champion and professional bowler couldn’t help but start singing: “I’m in the game.”

The next hand saw fireworks between Scott and Chris. In a raised pot the flop came 3 Q A. Scott moved all in only to be snap called by Jensen. Scott rolled over Ace-seven and saw that he was dominated by Chris’ Ace-nine. The turn-river came 10-9 and just that quickly Scott was eliminated in 4th place.

With three players to go Santos was crippled after an altercation with chip leader Chris Jensen on the button. With blinds at 5000/10,000, Chris raised to 20K, Santos called from the BB and play was two handed. The board came Q 7 7, followed by check-check. The turn was a three and Santos bet 35,000 and Chris called. The river was a Q and Santos checked. Chris in calculated fashion, carved out 55000 from his 250K stack, and pushed them forward forcing Santos into an all in decision for his tournament life. Santos paused and ultimately folded leaving his stack in rough shape. Afterward, Chris admitted that his push at this stage was a stone cold bluff with 4-4 – which by the river had been counterfeited – leaving him with only 4 high!

Chips dwindling Santos was forced to make a move in the small blind. He shoved with ten-three and Chris was more than priced in and called with his Queen-four. Santos could not improve, finishing third, and ending another deep run reinforcing how his skills shine in the big show.

With that knockout Chris Jensen and Shawn Slattery were the final two members of Team Canada Poker headed to Vegas. Chris, who started in the Student Poker Championships, and finished third in the Tournament of Champions 15. While Shawn is the reigning GTA points champion and like Chris, was feeling energized knowing they were headed to Las Vegas.

To take down the Championship and to join the select group of Season winners, however, would be nothing short of icing on the cake for these two phenomenal players.

The final table started with a huge action as both players pushed all in pre flop on the first hand! Shawn had Ace-6 and Chris was holding Ace-five. The board came 73KK8 and the first hand was a chopped pot.

Just two hands later Chris raised pre flop and Shawn called. The flop came Ace-six-Ace and was checked by both players. With a six on the turn, Shawn moved all in followed by an insta-call by Chris.

Shawn realized immediately that he was in for some hurt, and turned over his King-seven and watched as Chris revealed cowboys–pocket kings. Shawn was drawing dead and with a meaningless five on the river Chris became the Season 17 Champion!

Shawn was more than pleased with his performance and his ticket to the 2010 WSOP.

Chris was ecstatic for his victory. “I’m feeling pretty good,” said Chris. “Coming in third a few seasons ago, it feels great to finally win.”

When asked how he would do in the WSOP, he joked “I’ll probably finish third place.”

A deep run in the WSOP would definitely thrill the Red Hot Poker Tour community; but after his exceptional performance at the Championship, it probably won’t shock anyone.

The Vegas strip better be prepared for the talent headed there this year representing Red Hot Poker Tour’s Team Canada.
Chris Jensen

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