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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Collins Mix: “Make Mine a Double” – Dwayne Collins takes down his second Red Hot Poker Tour Championship.

Submitted by on June 6, 2011 – 11:15 AMNo Comment

By Mike Nelson
Twenty seasons are now officially in the books. Red Hot Poker Tour has seen twenty gatherings of its top players biding for the championship. There have been twenty grueling final tables, twenty players who have gone the distance and, of course, twenty champions who hoisted the trophy and reaped the spoils of being declared the winner.

In honour of the historic 20th event, a new Champions trophy was unveiled comprised of chips used throughout the twenty seasons of Red Hot Poker Tour mounted atop a oak wood base containing the engraved names of all previous Champions.

Awards and recognition were given out first, and started with an announcement that Red Hot London player, Mike Pereira won the previous evenings Elite Showdown aka “heavy weight bout” in a tightly contested battle.

The overall points Champion was first recognized in Sal Villaluz, and the ladies Champ for the 6th Season was Lisa Clayton – and was recognized as the only player to qualify for every single Tournament of Champions.
Region Champions highlighted for their hard fought battles in Season XX: Zed Kaye of GTA, George Kuzmanovic of Toronto, Miroslaw Szupina of KWC, Peterborough’s Jeremy Boyce, Richard Duke from Red Club, Lema Sole of Windsor, Mike Pereria of London, and Vince Matteliano of HBO all set themselves apart from the pack to emerge as the leaders from their respective regions. In Season 20, three regions were won by a mere 1450 points – combined!

It’s skill and determination that gets a player to the Championship, and there is not doubt that every player who set foot on the tournament grounds at Norma Jeans had proven himself or herself over the period of the season.
That being said, in order to run deep in a tournament like this, you must have some luck on your side.
The day started out much like the Tournament of Champions events that preceded it. The elite and most determined separated themselves from the pack and arrived with only one goal in mind – taking down the elusive Championship.

Toronto points champion runner-up Rouzbeh Hashami was among the first to go. Months of preparation, bluffing, and outplaying his opponents came to an end quickly when, on the third hand of the day his top pair/top kicker (a pair of queens with an ace kicker) got run over by K-Q with a king on the turn. As Rouzbeh no doubt knows: skill is only one component of the game, and a little bit of luck is needed to out last the large field of players at the Championship. Poker can be cruel.

Within the first hour of the game fourth place finisher in the Toronto region, Mohammad Niazi, got all his chips in with K-K typically an amazing spot to get your chips in preflop. However, he too saw the bad news when his two opponents flipped up A-A and Q-Q. Mohammad’s day came quickly to an end. Shirley Hartt of the GTA was the benefactor in this hand. Her aces gave her the triple up she needed to gain a big stack in the early stages of the game. This is not the last we will hear from her.

As it always is, the day was filled with bad beats, suck outs, and great plays.
As players made their exits, the tables diminished, and the chip stacks of those who remained kept growing.
Come 8 p.m., seven hours after the first cards were put in the air, the field of 140 had decreased to two tables and 18 players. At this time it was clear that the remaining players would have to power through some of the most elite players Red Hot Poker Tour has to offer to remain in the game.

With the pressure mounting, former Champion Chris Jensen pushed his short stack in against all-time points leader Bill Bawden. Bill flipped up the second most powerful pre flop hand in Texas Hold’em: K-K. Chris, who no doubt was hoping for a coin flip with his pair of two’s, and needed a serious suck out to stay in contention for his second title. When the board came up 9-8-K-Q-8 Chris’ day was almost over. But one man’s misfortune is another man’s new lease on life: Bill was now inches away from the final table that has eluded him in the past.

Prahba Khosla of HBO found herself cracking aces for the second time deep in the tournament in a hand with Aaron St. Denis. Holding the weapons of mass destruction A-A, Aaron shoved all his chips in with a nine-high board. Prahba had top pair with a Q-6. The turn and river showed Queen-six. With a full house almost identical to the double up she had earlier against another pair of aces, she sent Aaron packing, perhaps rethinking the effectiveness of the tough to come by AA hand.

Coming down to eleven players, Mike Bertrand of Windsor called the short-stacked all-in of KWC points champ Miroslaw Szupina. Mike rolled over his KQ against Miroslaw’s J-10. The board came 4-2-3-5-K. Mike raked in the pot that would fuel him to the final table. Miroslaw saw his day end with an impressive run that put him out with eleven players remaining.

On the bubble, former champion Jennifer Garlicki got her chips all-in in a great spot. She was holding A-A against Prahba’s K-K. However, given Prahba’s history against AA, Jen still needed to survive a flop, turn, and river. Luckily for Jen, the aces finally held up as the board came up A-7-8-Q-5. The former champion now had some chips to work with much to the dismay of the remaining players.

The ten players remaining were doing their best to survive long enough to make the final table.
The bubble finally burst when Mike Bertrand shoved his chips in and Dwayne Collins called. Holding K-J, Mike was certainly not happy to see the hand that called him: A-K. With a 5-2-K-10-2 board, Mike’s day was done and the remaining nine were ready take on the challenge of outlasting Red Hot Poker Tour’s 20th final table.

Final Table
Here’s how the stacks looked as the final nine remained.
1. Dwayne Collins of London (Season 16 Champ)
148,000 chips
2. Prahba Khosla of HBO (AA killer)
80,000 chips
3. Zed Kaye of GTA (GTA Champion)
76,000 chips
4. James Arsenault of GTA (Third Final Table)
64,000 chips
5. Shirley Hartt of Toronto (2010 WSOP player)
6. Jennifer Garlicki of London (Season 9 Champion, and record tying 5th final table)
57,000 chips
7. Bill Bawden of Toronto (All time points Champion)
40,000 chips
8. Andrew Reston of HBO (A new father – congrats!)
55,000 chips
9, Linda Lewis of London (Fourth Lady and Third London Player at Final Table)
17,000 chips

At the outset, this looked to some as one of the most challenging final nine the Tournament of Champions ever witnessed, and the first with four women.

The first hand in Linda shoved her short stack in with K-Q and was called by Prahba who held an A-10.
The board came 3-9-Q-A-2 and with a pair of aces, Prahba added to her already healthy chip stack and sent Linda packing. Ninth-place Linda went deep, but just couldn’t get the hand when she needed it most.
Shortly after, Shirley ran into some bad luck when she pushed her stack in with a solid A-Q. When getting called with A-Q, there are a few hands you do not want to see your opponent with. The caller, Z. Kaye, had one of those hands—Big Slick.

The board came 2-6-5-K-K and Shirley was eliminated in 8th place.
Later, James shoved all in with a wired pair of 8s and was called with Zed’s cowboys—K-K. James could not connect with the flop and fell short yet again at the final table leaving in 7th place – the second final table elimination at the hands of Zed.

The next to make his exit was Bill Bawden. He shoved on a 8c-6c-3d board holding top pair with 8s-9s. Dwayne, who had two over cards and a flush draw with KcQc, called him. At this point, it was a virtual coin flip as both players had a 50 percent chance of taking down the pot. In the end, it came down to who was having a better day. The turn was a 4c and that sealed the hand for Dwayne. After a meaningless 5c hit on the river, Bills deepest run at a Championship ended with a 6th place finish.

Andrew Resten looked to push the action and got involved with a huge pot against Dwayne on a 9d-8h-2h-2s-6s board. With action on both the flop and turn, Andrew made a bet on the river and folded to Dwayne’s all-in raise. Dwayne took the monster pot leaving Andrew on life support.
Andrew was eliminated shortly after in 5th place.

Now with just four players remaining, all competitors where were on their ‘A’ game and calculating each move very carefully.

Short-stacked, Jen managed to double-up twice and once again be in contention for the title.
Zed appeared to be making the most headway. He was being very aggressive and took down most hands preflop, winning a number of big pots without a showdown.

He was on a roll until he got involved with the one player who out-chipped him … Dwayne Collins.
On a limp pot the board came up a rainbow 9-3-7. Dwayne bet into the pot, Zed made a big raise, Dwayne re-raised by going all-in, and Zed called. Zed flipped top pair with a Jack kicker (J-9) and Dwayne showed him the bad news: the same pair with an Ace kicker (A-9). The turn-river came 5-A and after an impressive show GTA points Champion Zed. was knocked out in 4th place.

Now down to the final three players , it looked like Dwayne was running away with it.
1. Dwane Collins 417,000 chips
2. Jennifer Garlicki 98,000 chips
3. Prahba Khosla 82,000 chips.

Earlier in the day, the resident photographer relayed that he wanted to take a snapshot of Dwayne with his stack. At the time, Dwayne was embarrassed that it was going to be a bad picture, since he was on “life support.” Now, with his monstrous stack he slyly asked “Where’s your camera now?”

With the finish line in place the remaining players had to tread very carefully.

Jennifer Garlicki eventually found herself in a devastating battle of the blinds. She was in the big blind with the other former champ Dwayne in the small. Dwayne made a seemingly weak call, and Jen, looking to take advantage of her fellow past Champion and London native, made a move holding a 5-8. She shoved all her chips in and sighed as Dwayne made a snap call.

His slow play worked as he showed Jen the bad news. Dwayne was holding a pair of Jacks—a monster pair three-handed.

The flop came A-5-6, giving Jen a few outs. The turn river came 4-3 and Jen finished in third place for the second consecutive Championship, signaling to all that she continues to be a force in the Red Hot Poker Tour.
An exhausted Jen was disappointed but very pleased with her play. Already looking forward to Season 21, Jen said she comes to play and expects to be at a final table again.

Coming into heads up play, Dwayne had a 2.5-1 chip lead, but he wasn’t getting ahead of himself. Dwayne was zoned in and focused with only one player standing in the way between him and his second Championship.
Prahba was not ready to let this title elude her without a fight. After losing the first few heads up pots, she stated confidently, “It’s okay, it doesn’t matter, I’ll get you.”

Her comment seemed to be prophetic as soon after the tides started to swing in Prahba’s favour, and she found herself holding J-10 in a pot that was raised pre flop. The flop came A-10-7, and Dwayne made a continuation bet. Prabha, who was confident her 10’s led into the raise with a 50,000 chip bet. Dwayne called, and then called another bet on the turn while uttering, “Do you hit every time?” On the showdown Dwayne showed his undeveloped hand, K-Q, and Prahba gained some serious ground against the chip leader.

The following hand the cards kept coming Prahba’s way. Dwayne raised preflop and the board came 7-10-J. Dwayne bet, and Prahba came over the top to take down yet another huge pot. She decided to show Dwayne her hand, which was none other than the absolute nuts: 8-9, giving her the Jack high straight.
With that hand, the lead changed in favour of Prahba, who now had all the momentum.

Dwayne remained true to his strategy and reads and started make his way back up, clawing away at Prahba until an almost dead-even stack, setting the stage for a dramatic final hand at Tournament of Champions XX.
The final hand started innocently enough—a small raise from Dwayne in the small blind. The flop came K-J-Q and both players checked. The turn was a 7; again, both players checked. Then mayhem ensued when a seemingly unimportant 3 came on the river. Prahba bet a small amount and Dwayne out of nowhere comes up with a big raise. Prahba then stopped to think. She took her time, sensing that the deciding hand of the tournament could already be in motion. She chose to re-raise all-in and Dwayne couldn’t have called any faster. Prahba showed her pair of Jack’s with a J-6 in her hand, and then Dwayne rolled over the pocket King’s he was holding. Once again, the slow play worked to perfection for Dwayne and he scooped the pot and took down the tournament.

Dwayne Collins of London became Red Hot Poker Tour’s first two-time Champion. A feat that will be tough to match as Dwayne makes his way to the Red Hot Poker Tour record books.

Prahba was pleased with her performance, great stamina, and terrific energy even after the 12-hour poker session she just took part in. Afterwards she quipped, “I could have played for another hour!”

She now looks forward to cheering on the two-time champ as part of Team Canada Poker headed to the 2011 WSOP in June.

Tired but elated, the champion had little doubt in his ability throughout the grueling tournament. “I was ready to win,” Dwayne said, “it all just needed to fall into place, that’s all. I was confident though.”

Dwayne has earned his spot at the World Series of Poker for the second consecutive year, and relayed that he is looking forward to the challenge, as he admitted “I’m glad to be going back, as I’ve had a year to continue improving my game, and I’m a much better player now.”

Though his immediate goals right now include preparing for the WSOP and coming home from Vegas richer and with some WSOP jewelry, Dwayne is already thinking about what he can bring to the Red Hot Poker Tour next season: “Let’s go for three in Season 21!”

Congratulations to Dwayne Collins the Season XX Champion and fellow Londoner Mike Pereira for their fantastic wins, and joining the 2011 Team Canada Poker! Good Luck in Vegas … we are sure you will represent Red Hot Poker Tour well!

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