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How is it that some tournament players seem to never be bitten by the variance bug? Granted, these days we live in a “What have you done for me lately?” world when it comes to results in tourneys. So when someone has the kind of year that David “The Dragon” Pham has had…you simply have to take notice. It’s just not surprising anymore to see his name at the top of the leaderboard. In a day and age where tournament fields continue to grow and grow, it’s mind blowing to see someone consistently rise to the top the way Pham has in the past year. To say David Pham had a good 2007 would be an understatement. He made well over 1.5 million dollars, which went nicely along with his 10+ final tables last year. This included a runner up spot at the WPT Legends of Poker final table for $800k+, and a preliminary tourney win at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic for a little over $279k. So what does he do? He enters the EPT Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure final table with a massive chip lead.

However, from the play the past few days, it was completely obvious he’d find no easy targets here. From 1135 players, finally down to the 7 other remaining players, there is no doubt that everyone was hungry for the massive first place prize of 2 million dollars.

Here’s how the chip stacks looked heading into the final table.

Seat 1 – Kris Kuykendall – 2,150,000
Seat 2 – Christian “Charder” Harder – 905,000
Seat 3 – David “The Dragon” Pham – 7,390,000
Seat 4 – Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier – 3,060,000
Seat 5 – Joe “pokerjoe9” Elpayaa – 2,755,000
Seat 6 – Craig Hopkins – 1,770,000
Seat 7 – Richard “Lee Nickel” Fohrenbach – 1,855,000
Seat 8 – Haffiz “hafizzle” Khan – 2,560,000

As to be expected, there was a strong online presence at the final table. Christian Harder, being a player who began to have strong online results toward the end of 2007, Haffiz Khan, a long time high stakes tournament and sit n go player, Joe Elpayaa, who crushes high stakes tournaments on stars, and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, the former Starcraft pro and current Team Poker Stars Pro. The stage was set with eight players from all walks of life. With 8th being $150k, and 1st being 2 million, you can be assured the action would be fast and furious.

Richard Fohrenbach doubled up early at the final table with JJ vs. Joe Elpayaa’s TT. However, his run at the final table would end with the hand he had previously doubled up with. He got it in with JJ once again vs. ElkY’s AK of spades. ElkY flopped a king, no help came, and that was all she wrote for Fohrenbach. He took home $150k for his 8th place finish.

Moments later, ElkY claimed his 2nd victim of the final table. Christian Harder, who came into the final table with the short stack found a hand to stick the rest of his chips in with when he found 77. Unfortunately, ElkY had him dominated with JJ. Grospellier flopped a set of jacks, and though a turn gutshot came up, the miracle did not hit for Harder. He exited the final table in 7th place for $200k.

At this point, the tide had clearly shifted. What start out looking like a table in Pham’s control, was clearly now in Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier’s control. He came into the final table well behind David Pham, but in just a short time had taken out the first two players at the final table and taken his own formidable chip lead. With six left, ElkY held roughly 40% of the total remaining chips. He held nearly 9 million chips, over 3 million more than Pham who was in 2nd place.

The action lulled for a bit until online pro Joe “pokerjoe9” Elpayaa shoved his remaining chips in with KJ of hearts. Once again, ElkY found a hand good enough to take down another player. He called Elpayaa down with AQ, Elpayaa found nothing on the flop, turn, or river and Elpayaa was out in 5th place. He earned $300k.

Most of the players at the final table didn’t get much of a chance to do anything with ElkY marauding over the table. Craig Hopkins had blinded down quite a bit until he shoved the last of his chips in with K8 of diamonds. He ran into David Pham’s TT. The flop came down T97 with no diamonds. None of Hopkins 8 outs materialized and he was sent packing with $450k in 5th place.

It would be nearly two and a half hours until the next player was eliminated.

With the blinds at 80/160k with a 20k ante, ElkY raised under the gun to 400k, 2.5 the blinds. Pham called the extra 240k from the big blind, down to roughly 3 million after having a rocky run at the final table thus far. The flop came KQ5, with two hearts. Both players checked. The turn was the J of diamonds, putting out two hearts and two diamonds. Pham once again checked, and ElkY bet 700k. Pham checkraised all in for 2 million more. ElkY took some time and called Pham down with the A2 of diamonds – good for a gutshot and nut flush draw. Pham rolled over the Q5 of clubs, a slowplayed flopped two pair. Unfortunately for “The Dragon”, the river was the 7 of diamonds, giving Grospellier the nuts. Last year’s Player of the Year was knocked out in 4th place for $600k. Pham looks primed to have another big year, starting this one off right.

There would be no wait in the action for the next huge pot. The very next hand Khan and Kuykendall got all the chips in with Kuykendall having Khan covered by 1.5 million. Kuykendall’s AQ of diamonds was no match for Khan’s KK, and the 8.5 million dollar pot was shipped over to Khan.

Kuykendall fought on for a bit longer, getting his chips in with KQ, and getting called down by Khan who rolled over A7. Khan finished what he started, and sent home Kuykendall home in 3rd place, good for $800k – nothing to sneeze at.

With ElkY having 13.1 million in chips, and Khan with 9.1 million, one would expect this to be an epic and long match with the blinds at 80/160k still. This was not the case. After knocking 1 million out of Khan’s stack, the final hand occurred.

Grospellier made his standard 2.5x raise on the button, up to 400k. Khan pushed in for 6.5 million total – a huge reraise. He was instacalled by ElkY, and had to show the bluff – 93 offsuit. ElkY was way out in front with 88. The flop left Khan drawing to runners, which he partially got with a turned open ended straight draw. Unfortunately for him, the river paired the board, and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier won the 2008 Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure.

Khan earned $1,094,976 for his 2nd place finish. Grospellier took home a massive 2 million dollar prize for his victory. 5 days and 1134 other players, ElkY was crowned the EPT Champion in Atlantis. Without a doubt a sick start to 2008.