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My last couple articles have been documenting the 2008 PartyPoker Premier League, and I’m back to write about the most exciting part of the event: the final table. The last time I wrote, the playoffs had ended and the final table had been determined. There were 1.5 million chips at the final table, and here’s how they were distributed:

Seat 1 – Annie Duke – 190,000 chips
Seat 2 – Andy Black – 330,000 chips
Seat 3 – Marcel Luske – 210,000 chips
Seat 4 – Roland de Wolfe – 200,000 chips
Seat 5 – Tony G – 380,000
Seat 6 – Alex Kravchenko – 260,000 chips

The final table had a $520,000 prize pool including a $250,000 first place award.

The action started immediately, with de Wolfe increasing his stack by over 15% in the first hand. He raised s00ted QJ, got a call from Tony G with the AT of the same suit, and they both flopped a flush draw. de Wolfe also had top pair, however, and he extracted chips from Tony G on the flop and turn while avoiding hitting what would have been a smaller flush. They both ended up checking the river, which led to Duke telling Tony, “I’m proud of you for not bluffing the river.”

De Wolfe kept on building his stack, winning a pot with JJ versus Black and then AQ versus Kravchenko. Luske also donated a few chips to de Wolfe in the AQ hand after mistakenly calling in the SB; he thought he was just completing which would have been 1000 more chips, but he was actually calling a raise which was 5000 more!

A lot of limping was going on in the early stages. All sorts of hands were being limped (including TT earlier on by Kravchenko), and even more hands were being limp/called. Tony G decided to limp/call JQo and he took down a huge pot versus de Wolfe and Duke. After that, he completely switched gears and decided to raise the next three hands in a row with 85s, Q9o, and then ATo. He won chips with the first two hands but got 3 bet by Kravchenko with QTs while holding ATo. “It’s the best hand I’ve had,” Tony G said while showing his hand and then folding.

De Wolfe significantly added to his stack one hand later, getting dealt (the sexy) 65s versus Kravchenko’s AJo. The flop came A73, giving Kravchenko top pair and de Wolfe a flush draw. Both players played it rather strangely (although I’m a donkey, what do I know): they checked the flop, and on the 8 turn (giving de Wolfe a gutshot straight draw to go along with his flush draw) Kravchenko bet 5000 and called de Wolfe’s raise to 20,000. The river came a 9, and de Wolfe managed to get Kravchenko to call an almost pot-sized bet, beating Kravchenko’s top pair with his straight. This must have left a sour taste in Kravchenko’s mouth because he got dealt AJo again a few hands later and decided to fold it.

Kravchenko lost a few more chips (including a hand where he called a river bet with ace high and lost to Tony G’s flopped trips) before being dealt AA versus Duke’s JJ. The two of them got it in on a 55T flop, and Kravchenko doubled up. Duke had had Kravchenko barely covered and was left with a mere 38k in chips.

Duke got a few of her chips back from Kravchenko the very next hand, however. Kravchenko put her all in with 88 and she called with AJ. “Good luck, boys. May the best man win,” she said as the community cards fell. She ended up winning the flip as an ace fell on the river.

A little competitive spirit showed in a hand involving Black and Luske as they were dealt ATo and 96o respectively, blind versus blind. Black limped ATo and then bet a missed Q92 flop, which Luske called. After checking both the turn and the river, Black sensed he was beat and mucked his cards right away when it was time for show down. Luske demanded to see the hand, however, and wouldn’t show his cards until Black would show his. Finally the floor manager was called over, Black’s hand was declared dead, both hands were turned over, and Luske was shipped the chips.

The table’s first casualty occurred when Duke pushed over a Kravchenko raise with AJo. Kravchenko made a surprising call with 87s and got lucky (despite cries of “nooo!” from Duke), hitting a 7 on the river and forcing Duke out in 6th place. She received $20,000 for her finish.

Soon after Duke busted, Tony G claimed a massive chip lead after winning a monster pot 3-way with AQo. His large lead was short-lived, however: first he had his pocket aces cracked and he doubled up Luske who limp/called with KQo and hit two pairs (which eventually turned to rivered quads), and then he raised and had his A7s beat by Black who called with Q4s.

The blind versus blind battles continued with Black and Luske. Black had some fun needling Luske, saying “Can I see your cards please?” during the occassional insignificant show down. Black was winning almost every pot post flop after completing his hand in the small blind, and Luske was becoming impatient. At one point he even complained that Black may have seen his cards on the glass plate. After a couple more hands and a few strange calls by Luske, he became the short stack of the table.

By round five, the blinds were 7000/15,000, which meant that the average stack was only 20 big blinds. This was bad news for Luske, and he eventually made his move with Q8o on the button. de Wolfe called him down with 77 and won the flip, and Luske busted in 5th place for $30,000. This pot meant that de Wolfe moved into the chip lead with 588,000 chips.

Kravchenko was the next victim at this final table, busting in 4th place and taking home $40,000. Black, famous for a few blow-ups in past tournaments, had been about to double him up by calling a push with Kxo versus Kravchenko’s QQ, but he got lucky this time around and hit a K on the turn. Kravchenko took the bad beat in stride; he shook Black’s hand and wished everyone good luck before leaving the table.

No more blow ups for Black 3-handed! The hands following Kravchenko’s bust were unexciting, but they served to build Black’s stack. “You’re running us over, sir,” de Wolfe commented at one point. This was amidst several walks, each player getting his fair share. At one point Tony G even folded KQo on the button.

Tony G liked 66 during round 8 and 20,000/40,000 blinds, though, and he announced “call” after Black raised to 120,000 chips with AJo. Apparently he mistakenly thought Black’s raise covered his stack, however, and he prematurely turned his cards over for everyone to see. The flop came low cards, and then Tony G hit a set on the turn. He wasn’t allowed to bet, though, and it didn’t take long for Black to muck his hand (which couldn’t have been helped with any river). Both the table and the commentators found this hand quite hilarious.

Tony G’s laughter didn’t last long, though, for he was a victim of limped kings the very next hand. de Wolfe limped cowboys on the button and Tony G completed his small blind with 97s. Black just checked T7o in the BB. The flop came Q high and gave Tony G a straight flush draw. De Wolfe bet, Tony G pushed, Black folded, and de Wolfe called. Tony G missed his draw and busted in third place, winning $60,000.

Tony G’s bust meant that the final table had become heads-up; de Wolfe had 960,000 chips to Black’s 610,000. De Wolfe increased his chip lead even more after a couple hands, rivering a flush on a paired board and getting paid off by Black’s two pairs. His big lead didn’t last long, however: a couple hands later he decided to put Black all in with 89s, and Black snapped called with KJs. The best hand held and Black doubled up to 680,000.

The high blinds meant that no chip lead was a safe chip lead until the match was over. Black gained the lead after a few unexciting pots, and soon he had de Wolfe outchipped by a significant margin. It wasn’t long before de Wolfe was forced to make a move, and he did it with Q6 on a 864 flop. Unfortunately for him, though, Black had limped KK preflop, and the cowboys held to bust de Wolfe in 2nd place. Black was the 2008 PartyPoker Premier League champion!

This being his first ever major championship win, Black was very emotional as he said, “I’ve waited 20 years for this.” Discounting the hand to bust Kravchenko, he played some great poker and absolutely dominated both 3-handed and heads-up. He took home a handsome $250,000 for his first place finish. de Wolfe won $120,000 for placing second.

See below for a list of final table cashes. Thanks muchly for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the PartyPoker Premier 2008 as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about it!

1 – $250,000 – Andy Black
2 – $120,000 – Roland de Wolfe
3 – $60,000 – Tony G
4 – $40,000 – Alex Kravchenko
5 – $30,000 – Marcel Luske
6 – $20,000 – Annie Duke