Across the road from the World Series, the modern home of Las Vegas poker was hosting the WPT Bellagio Cup V. The event is traditionally timed to overlap with the end of the Main Event, in order to tempt in pros and big-money amateurs before they head back home after the WSOP grind.
The WPT has been on something of a downward spiral in the last two years, but has still managed to gather a field of 268 players for the first televised event of Season 8. The $15,000 buy-ins built a prize pool of $3.8 million, meaning that the eventual winner would pocket over a million dollars.
Eight time bracelet winner and former WPT champion Erik Seidel was the most high profile player going into the final table. He told media at the event that, in his opinion, this was the toughest final six ever assembled at a WPT event. The players at the final table, and their chip stakes, were as follows:
1: Faraz Jaka (5,041,000)
2: Erik Seidel (2,170,000)
3: Christoffer Sonesson (1,671,000)
4: Alex Gomes (1,586,000)
5: Justin Smith (2,992,000)
6: Alec Torelli (2,623,000)
Erik’s pre-match comments seem to be vindicated when, after a record 108 hands, he was eliminated in 6th place by Justin Smith. The player known as “BoostedJ” online called Seidel’s check-raise all-in with an overpair to the flop. Seidel had plenty of outs with two overcards and a flush draw, but couldn’t find the luck he needed. Seidel’s exit lowered the average age of the final table drastically. The next youngest player after the 49 year old veteran was Alex Gomes at a sprightly 26.
The two short stacks coming into the final table tangled just 15 hands after the first elimination. Christoffer Sonesson moved all-in with pocket fours and landed in a straight race situation when Gomes called with A-Q. A deadly Queen on the river sealed the deal for the Swede and put him out in 5th.
Gomes then set his sites on former big-stack Alec Torelli, once again happy to take a race all-in. After seeing Torelli re-raise his initial bet, Gomes pushed over the top with 10-10. Torelli put his tournament life on the line with A-Q, but failed to find the kind of cards that Gomes had enjoyed earlier on the final table.
In contrast with the early seasons of the WPT, a good structure meant that all the players were deep stacked coming into the final table. With a lot of room to try tricky plays, the three remaining competitors took the time to demonstrate their skills. The chip lead swapped back and forth for 53 hands before finally reaching heads up play. Eventually Justin Smith made an all-in play with A-4 against Faraz “The-Toilet” Jaka, only to run into K-K. No Ace on the board left Jaka and Gomes to battle it out for the WPT Bellagio Cup V title.
The heads up battle was convincingly won by Brazil native Alexander Gomes. He wasted little time building up a healthy chip advantage before the final hand, where Faraz moved all-in with A-7 against Gomes’ A-J. There were no surprises on the board, confirming Gomes as the first ever Brazilian WPT champion.
The player known as “allingomes” online, enjoyed raucous support from a pack of Brazilian friends and family. “Confidence is the most important thing in poker and that’s what they gave to me,” he told press later on. The Team PokerStars player has had an excellent year, having finished 4th in the EPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January. He came to the world’s attention in 2007 when he won his first WSOP bracelet in a $2,000 No Limit Hold ’em event. He can now add $1.1 million to his ever-growing bankroll.
The final table payouts were as follows:
1st: Alexandre Gomes – $1,187,670
2nd: Faraz Jaka – $774,780
3rd: Justin Smith – $464,870
4th: Alec Torelli – $271,165
5th: Christoffer Sonesson – $203,385
6th: Erik Seidel – $164,640