For the past month, London has been at the epicenter of the world’s most exciting and prestigious tournaments. From the WSOP Europe to the EPT London, poker’s best and brightest descended on the English capital to compete for huge prizes. As November approaches, the focus naturally shifts towards Vegas and the conclusion of the WSOP. However, there were still plenty of big name pros left in town to compete in the PartyPoker.com World Open V.
The World Open is a televised event consisting of 7 sign table heats and one final table. It throws together top name pros, upcoming European stars, and a sprinkling of internet qualifiers to duke it out for money and exposure. After 5 days of hard fought action, the final table was set and scheduled for Thursday 15th October.
In Seat 1 was controversial young pro Luke Schwartz. Refusing to pay for a £5 sandwich at the recent EPT London resulted in him being banned from all Gosvenor casinos. Although the Palm Beach Casino in Mayfair is not a Grosvenor property they also imposed a ban on the Schwartz. The player, known as ‘_FullFlush1_’ online, arrived on time for the World Open but was refused entry. Eventually his passage was negotiated, but only on the condition that he be escorted at all times within the casino.
In seat two was the legendary Mike Sexton, who had just heard that he was due to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. His fellow final tablers were full of reverence for “The Ambassador of Poker”, with Phil Laak calling him, “The consummate player. Full stop.” Next to Mike was bearded Irish Buddist and regular high stakes winner Andy Black and to his left was poker’s most high-profile couple. Both Jennifer Tilly and Phil Laak won their heats and, by a quirk of fate, were sat side by side at the final table. Rounding out the final seven were PartyPoker.com grassroots team member Bodo Sbrzensny and Austrian online satellite winner Jan Veit.
Players began with triple stacks and, with such a talented field, it would be over 4 hours before anyone hit the rail. The first player to exit the event was Andy Black, who fell foul of The Unabomber. Next up was Hall of Famer elect Mike Sexton, who ran his pocket 8’s into the A-A of Jan Veit. From hereon in it was all about the unknown Austrian. Despite a high quality table, Veit went through them one by one until he was heads up against Phil Laak. Jennifer Tilly was out in 5th after her A-J failed to find any help against Veit’s pocket 9‘s and Bodo Sbrzensny followed in 4th, just ahead of Luke Schwartz in 3rd.
Phil could count himself very lucky to even get to heads up play. At one point his stack was reduced to 47,000, down from the 300,000 chips each player began with. Things looked bad when he got his A-J all-in against Luke Schwatz’s A-Q, but a miracle Jack saved his bacon and set him on the path to heads up. “Coming back from one and a half big blinds is about as crazy as it gets. So sick, just so sick,” he later commented.
Although Veit began heads up play with a slight chip advantage, the contest was all about the flamboyant American. The tussle was all but over after Laak pushed all-in with A-8 and was called by the Austrian holding A-4. An 8 on the flop maade Laak’s double up even more secure. The final hand followed shortly after, Laak making a good call with Q-9 against a J-7 all-in push. The board completely missed both hands, and Queen high was enough to confirm Phil Laak as the PartyPoker.com World Open V Champion.
“This was a wild roller coaster ride and I am proud to have shared it with this amazing cast of characters. They were a tough bunch. Wow – what an honor,” commented the bowled over champion. Laak picked up $250,000 for his victory, only his second major tournament cash of 2009. “People underestimate him because he is so entertaining. He really deserves this,” stated the understandably thrilled Jennifer Tilly. For his extremely impressive run to second place, Jan Veit picked up $100,000. “With this line-up I would have been happy to get third,” he told reporters after the contest.
Every one of the 8 single table events will be shown on Five in the UK, starting on October 28th. The program will be hosted by regular TV poker host and successful pro, Kara Scott. Those players set to be featured in the series who did not make the final table include Tom Dwan, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Teddy Sheringham, Roland De Wolfe, Antoine Saout, James Akenhead, Scott Fischman, and defending champion Marty Smyth.
Full final table payouts were as follows:
1st PHIL LAAK (USA) $250,000
2nd JAN VEIT (AUT) $100,000
3rd LUKE SCHWARTZ (UK) $40,000
4th BODO SBRZESNY (GER) $30,000
5th JENNIFER TILLY (USA) $25,000
6th MIKE SEXTON (USA) $20,000
7th ANDY BLACK (IRE) $15,000