Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to establishing your name in poker history. Or, if you don’t care about fame and glory, it also translates to quite a bit of cash coming your way. So many players are one hit wonders in today’s day and age where million dollar payouts are not that uncommon at all. Unknowns win tournaments so often, and then are never heard from again. They caught their lightning in a bottle, and their time in the limelight is fleeting. However, some players seem to destroy variance, showing up at big final tables over and over again, crushing the competition on their way to becoming poker Gods. Players such as Jonathan Little, Scott Clements, and now Gavin Griffin have become some of the new poker elite.
Gavin Griffin has been known for quite a while, winning his World Series of Poker bracelet in 2004 as the youngest ever at the time. Last year, he won the EPT Main Event in Monte Carlo for nearly 2.5 million dollars. Today he went into the WPT Borgata Poker Classic final table just shy of the chip lead in a fairly strong final table. It wouldn’t be easy with pros Lee Watkinson and David Tran around.
Here were the chip counts heading into the final table:
David Tran – 5,271,000
Gavin Griffin – 5,105,000
Thomas Hare – 2,851,000
Noah Schwartz – 1,320,000
Lee Watkinson – 397,000
Ervin Prifti – 289,000
With the blinds still at 20k/40k, newcomer Ervin Prifti and Watkinson would be feeling the heat immediately. Prifti, from Pennsylvania, didn’t manage to nurse his stack too long at the final table. Just five hands in, he got his extremely short stack in with KQ vs. David Tran’s AK, and didn’t manage to get lucky. He busted in 6th place for $233,600.
After a few pots where Griffin became the chip leader, and Watkinson doubled up, the final table lost its second player.
Even with the double up, Watkinson was still on a very short stack, with 451k, with the blinds now at 25k/50k. He found 77 on the button and shoved his remaining chips in, and was called by Noah Schwartz, who doubled him up in the first place. Schwartz flipped up 88, and was in a dominating position. Watkinson flopped nothing, but turned a gutshot. Still needing two outs, he was left still needing them after a bricked river. He finished in 5th place for $282,779.
Here were the chip counts with four left.
Gavin Griffin – 5.6 million
David Tran – 5.3 million
Thomas Hare – 2.7 million
Noah Schwartz – 1.5 million
With the blinds still at 25k/50k, an enormous pot went down. Tran and Schwartz folded to Griffin in the small blind, who popped it up to 125k, Hare reraised from the big blind to 625k, Griffin came over the top, putting Hare all in. Hare called instantly. Griffin held 99, while Hare had JJ. A Jd Qd 5h flop left Griffin drawing to a running flush or straight, as he held the 9d. Unfortunately, a black 2 on the turn isn’t what Gavin was looking for, and Hare doubled up to about 3.2 million. It would be interesting to see how Gavin would react to losing more than 25% of his stack to Hare.
It was at this point that David Tran began to crush the table. He won multiple million dollar pots leading up to this pot, which signaled doom for Noah Schwartz.
With the blinds up to 30k/60k, Griffin and Hare folded to Tran in the small blind, who raised the blinds to 180k. Schwartz moved all in from the big blind for another 986k. After a long think, Tran elected to call, with KQ offsuit. Schwartz flipped over 99, and Tran and Schwartz were off to the races in a 2 million+ pot. Unfortunately for Schwartz, the king high flop left him drawing to running straight cards, or a 9. Neither the turn or river offered Schwartz any solace and he was left packing in 4th place, earning $331,958.
Tran stayed in the driver’s seat, grinding Griffin down. Here’s what the chip stacks looked like.
David Tran – 9,020,000
Thomas Hare – 3,620,000
Gavin Griffin – 2,575,000
However, Griffin was far from in trouble, with a still formidable stack. He wouldn’t waste much time after getting down to this point, though. Hare made a standard raise from the button to 180k, Tran folded, and Griffin called the extra 120k from the big blind. The flop came down A97, all clubs. Griffin checked, Hare bet 800k, Griffin moved in for another 1.9 million and was called. Hare flipped over A7, but was horrified to see Griffin had flopped a flush with the QT of clubs. Hare needed an A or a 7 on the turn or river, but got neither, and Griffin doubled up to 5.7 million.
Hare didn’t last long with his miniscule stack, as he was eliminated the very next hand. Tran folded on the button, and Griffin bet enough to put Hare all in. Hare called, showing K3, but was badly dominated by Griffin’s KQ. Hare wasn’t able to get there, and finished in 3rd place, making $381,137.
Here’s how the two pros stacked up starting in heads up play.
David Tran – 8,695,000
Gavin Griffin – 6,520,000
With the blinds up to 40k/80k, Griffin raised from the button to 200k. Tran reraised to 875k. Griffin reraised to 2.5 million. Tran moved all in over the top, and Griffin made the call with AQ. Tran flipped over 99, and the whole final table lead up to this moment. Tran had a small lead at this point, and if he could hold up with the two nines, he would be the champion. Unfortunately for him, the flop rolled out Q88, and he needed help, fast. The 7 on the turn, and 5 on the river were no help, and he became a massive underdog in this heads up match, down below 2 million, with Griffin over 13 million.
In the meantime, Griffin doubled up Tran, whittled him down, doubled him up again, whittled him down yet again, and doubled him up another time, setting up the ultimate hand in this heads up battle.
With the blinds at 50k/100k, Tran moved in from the button with about 1.2 million. After a short think, Griffin called with QJ, in a close gamble against Tran’s K8. The A98 flop offered no help, but the Q on the turn sure did. All he needed to do was avoid a K or 8 on the river…
Luck was on his side, as he managed to avoid Tran’s 5 outs, and become the 2008 Borgata Poker Classic Champion! Tran earned $737,685 for his valiant effort. Along with winning the tournament, Griffin won $1,401,109, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and he became the first poker player to ever win a World Series of Poker bracelet, a European Poker Tour championship, and a World Poker Tour championship. Quite the feat for this 26 year old.