Sunday, September 8, 2013

Event 7 Recap

2013 Borgata Poker Open $350 Buy-In + $50 Entry $100,000 Guaranteed Big Stack No Limit Hold'Em (Re-Entry)
Entrants: 544

Prize pool: $184,688

No Limit Hold'Em tournament poker is beautiful in it's simplicity at times. The best player doesn't always win. At times, it can even seem like it is destiny that a player will come out on top. Such was the case today at the 2013 Borgata Poker Open when Avik Mittal defeated a tough opponent in Wendy Freedman to win Event #7 and the $45,987 first place prize money. Why was it destiny? Because Avik is getting married next month. After scoring by far his biggest tournament cash ever, Avik explained "I am going to use this money to help pay for the wedding." Talk about getting married on the right foot.

Avik Mittal, Event #7 Champion

When we started play at the final table, our final ten players were as follows:

Seat One: Paul Shedaker (Croydon, PA) - 580K
Seat Two: Danny Aharoni (Forrest Hills, NY) - 1.5 million
Seat Three: Adam Taplinger (New York, NY) - 650K
Seat Four: Wayne Mernone (Hamilton, NJ) - 900K
Seat Five: Wendy Freedman (Las Vegas, NV) - 1.025 million
Seat Six: Max Digilov (Staten Island, NY) - 275K
Seat Seven: Dadong Yan (New York, NY) - 275K
Seat Eight: Trish Heller (Woodstock, NY) - 325K
Seat Nine: Martino Scaturro (Westfield, NJ) - 1.225 million
Seat Ten: Avik Mittal (New York, NY) - 1.4 million

The blinds were at 20K/40K with a 4K ante and the action would be fast and furious at the onset of the final table as we would see the first five players eliminated in less than an hour. It started when Trish Heller moved all in for her last 280K with the AT and was called by Wendy Freedman who held pocket tens. The dealer made Wendy sweat by putting out a diamond flush draw on the turn but no diamond or ace arrived on the river and we had our first elimination of the final table.

Trish Heller (Woodstock, NY) - 10th place - $2,401

Dadony Yan was now the shortest stack at the table and facing a raise from Danny Aharoni and a call from Adam Taplinger, Yan took the opportunity to pull a squeeze play by moving all in for his last 212K. It was only another 132 to call for Aharoni and Taplinger and they both made the call. When the flop came K♣64♠, Taplinger moved all in after a Aharoni check. Danny folded and the cards were turned over - KQ for Taplinger and a lowly Q♠J♠ for Yan. The turn and river would come 7T♠ and just like that we were down to eight.

Dadong Yan (New York, NY) - 9th place - $3,694

Only a few hands would be dealt before the next elimination took place. With the flop reading 88♣6♣ Martino Scaturro led out for 95K. Paul Shedaker liked his spot and decided to move all in for an additional 439K. This caused Martino to get out of his chair and stand up. He played with his stack deliberately, unsure of what to do. He knew he was behind but Martino had some gamble to him. "I call," he announced and turned over the 5♣3♣ for a baby flush draw. Shedaker had pocket 7's and was in good shape to double up and move over the one million chip mark. The 5♠ improved Martino's hand slightly but he was still behind the two pair that Shedaker held. That would change when the Q♣ came on the river to give Martino his flush. "Yes!" exclaimed Scaturro, clapping his hands together with joy. A stunned Shedaker could only give a quiet wave to the rest of the table as he made his way to the payout line.

Paul Shedaker (Croydon, PA) - 8th place - $5,264

Having the chip lead now, Martino asked the rest of the table if they wanted to make a deal. It was something he had suggested earlier. Again he was shot down, most notably by professional poker player Wendy Freedman who said "I want to play it out." Wendy showed she had game a few moments later. She opened the action for a min-raise to 80K only to get re-raised by Danny Aharoni to 265K. Wendy shot Danny a look out of the corner of her eye, hesitated for a moment, and then announced that she was all in. Aharoni tossed his cards high into the air and they landed face down in the middle of the table.

The blinds moved up to 25K/50K with a 5K ante when a desperate and short-stacked Max Digilov decided it was time to make a stand. Digilov moved all in for 150K with the Q♠9 and would be in need of some assistance when he was called by Martino and his pocket jacks. Digilov would get some hope when a 9 came on the flop but that would be all the kindness he would receive from the poker Gods as Martino's jacks would hold up.

Max Digilov (Staten Island, NY) - 7th place - $6,741

Martino again asks if the others want to make a deal. Wendy again shoots it down saying "I don't want to do anything." And again Wendy takes down another pot after eying Adam Taplinger and deciding his 50K bet was weak. She raises the bet, Adam folds telling her "good hand" as he does so. Wendy thanks him and adds to her ever increasing stack.

In the meantime, Danny Aharoni's tough final table run continues when he raises Avik Mittal's 175K bet to 410K and has to fold to Avik's all in shove. The fold leaves Aharoni with just 610K - a far cry from the chip lead he had held entering final table play. Perhaps frustrated, Aharoni would move all in with the A3 from the button. It was again bad timing as this time Wayne Mernone woke up with a big hand with the AK. Mernone would hit a king on the turn and Aharoni's riches to rags story was complete.

Danny Aharoni (Forrest Park, NY) - 6th place - $8,496

Martino yet again proposes a deal. This time Wendy responds "I'm just going to pretend that you're not talking" - obviously tired of the fact that Martino has not clued into the fact that there will be no deal made tonight. Adam Taplinger picks up a nice pot off of Wayne Mernone when he bets 100K on a 964♠ board and then moves all in over the top of Mernone's 250K raise prompting a fold from the bigger stack.

The blinds move up to 30K/60K with a 5K ante and Wendy picks up two small pots to chip her up even more. The turning point of the final table then takes place. Martino opened the action to 120K and was called by Avik. The flop came J♠83 and Martino led out for 225K. Avik calls yet again. The turn is the A♠ and Martino checks this time. Avik thinks for a moment before placing out a large bet of 500K. Martino moves all in putting Avik to the test. "Are you on a draw?" he asks, adding "I thought we were friends." Avik looks again at his hand and then announces a call, turning over A♣8♣ for a turned two pair. "F***ing hit the ace on the f***ing turn," groaned an upset Martino. The river was the 3♠ and Avik doubled up taking the chip lead in the process. Martino was still alive but was now down to just 600K.

Martino would put himself back into contention moments later when he would move his last 525K into the middle with an all in pre-flop shove with J♣T♠ and would get lucky against the AQ of Adam Taplinger when a ten would hit on the turn. Thrilled with the turn of events, Martino would again clap his hands. Adam in the meantime could only wring his hands over his head whispering to himself "wow... this game can be maddening."

A short-stacked Wayne Mernone would move all in for 480K with A♣8♣ and would find action in the form of Avik who re-raised to one million. Avik had queens and was looking good for the knockout on the J♣J9♥8♠ board until the miracle ace hit on the river to double Mernone up. Mernone asked the dealer with a grin on his face "wait, he raised to a million. Don't I get a million?"

Wendy Freedman completed her small blind and Martino checked his option from the big blind. The flop came T♣6♣5♠ and Freedman led out for 65K which Martino quickly called. The turn was the A and Freedman bet again, this time for 125K. Again Martino called. The river was the 6♠ causing Freedman to slow down and check. Martino wasted no time in announcing that he was all in. Just as quickly, Freedman grabbed a stack of chips and pushed them into the middle announcing a call. Martino turned over 63♣ for rivered trips but unfortunately for him, Freedman also held a 6 and her kicker was way better... a king.

Martino Scaturro (Westfield, NJ) - 5th place - $10,343

Once Martino is out of earshot, Wayne Mernone can't help himself. "Want to chop now?" The rest of the table laughs, including Wendy Freedman who proclaims "now that was funny." With the blinds now at 40K/80K and a 10K ante, a now short stacked Adam Taplinger moves all in over the top of Avik's 240K opener. Avik makes the call with a wimpy K♣4♣ which is surprisingly ahead of the K♠3♠ that Taplinger holds. The board comes out A♣9JJ and we are one card away from an inevitable chopped pot. The river being the cruel mistress that she is though brings the only card in the deck that can eliminate Taplinger and it's the 4 that does the deed this time.

Adam Taplinger (New York, NY) - 4th place - $13,205

Wendy Freedman who mentioned that she had moved to Las Vegas two years ago from Houston, Texas opened the action to 180K. Avik made it a million more to call. "Did you really just make it a million?" she asked, incredulous. "That's only half my stack," she said, making a fake sad face as she folded her hand. Avik continued to apply the pressure, raising to 300K a few minutes later. "These big bets are driving me crazy," Wendy said before tossing out a call. The flop comes 7 high and Avik moves all in causing more laughter to come from Wendy. "How do you decide what you are betting?" she asks. Avik just shrugs and says "I'm not a pro." Wendy does manage to get about 400K off of Avik when she catches him bluffing with fourth pair and her top pair is good enough to scoop the pot. And even though it might have been frustrating to have to deal with Avik's big bets Wendy proclaimed "even though this is the middle of the night and I'm dog tired, I'm having a lot of fun guys."

The players decided to take a 10 minute break. The chip counts as they went on break were:

Wayne 1.5 million
Wendy 2.365 million
Avik 4.3 million

When they returned from the break the blinds were increased to 50K/100K with a 10K ante. With only 15 big blinds left in his stack, Wayne Mernone felt A♣9♠ was as good a hand as he was going to get and moved all in over the top of the min raise that Avik had placed out. Avik made the quick call with pocket jacks and would eliminate Mernone when the board ran out ragged. We were now heads up with Avik holding nearly a 3:1 chip advantage.

 Wayne Mernone (Hamilton, NJ) - 3rd place - $16,622

Wendy and Avik would exchange a few chips when probably the critical hand of the heads up match went down. Avik opened the action for a min-raise and was called by Wendy. The flop came Q5♣3 and Avik led out for 200K after Wendy checked. Wendy put Avik to the test, making it 575K to go. There was some music playing in the background and Avik's head was moving in time to the beat. Wendy was staring off into space, shuffling a large stack of chips. Avik studies the board and then puts out the chips to make the call. The turn is the 3 and Wendy checks. Avik eyes Wendy's stack and places out a bet of 600K. Wendy is still shuffling the large stack of chips. She looks back at her cards and quietly moves them into the middle of the table, folding, leaving herself with 1.3 million in chips.

Wendy (left) and Avik (right) playing heads up for the trophy

Wendy moves all in first to act for her last 1.1 million and is instantly called by Avik who holds the dream heads up hand - pocket Aces. Wendy has T♣4♠ and gets some help when a ten flops. No dream ten or miracle four comes on the turn and river and we have our winner! Wendy is a poker professional living in Las Vegas, Nevada who has really burst onto the scene over the last two years with tournament cashes totaling (with this cash included) $295,733. This includes a 6th place finish in a $500 Borgata Poker Open event in September 2012 that was good for $75,519 and a 103rd place cash in the 2012 WPT Main Event that was good for another $7,070.

Wendy Freedman (Las Vegas, NV) - 2nd place - 25,856

Avik Mittal is our 1st place winner, collecting $45,987, a beautiful Borgata Poker Open trophy, and a customized 16 x 20 framed photo with Borgata chip and event information plaque. As the money bubble approached, Avik Mittal was just hoping to survive long enough to make the money. He only had two tournament cashes to his credit for a total of $1,400 so the $739 he would receive for just making the money would have been a big deal to him. Then something happened on the way to making the money... Avik started accumulating chips. He won a huge pot with top two pair against a smaller two pair to bring his stack to 700K and he never looked back after that. Using a combination of good cards and large bets to put the pressure on his opponents, Mittal was in control from start to finish of the final table.

Avik first started playing poker around 10 years ago when he saw it on television while living in India. No one played poker in India so Avik would teach his friends how to play just so he would have someone to play with. He came to the United States in 2008 where he took 4th in a small tournament for $400. "That was awesome," he said, a smile coming over his face as he thought back to that first small cash. "My other tournament cash was for $1,000. This is like a dream come true."

Avik almost didn't make it into the tournament today. He decided at the last minute to play and caught a bus at 10:30 and didn't get to the Borgata until about 30 minutes before registration closed. "I was short for a long time but got lucky a couple times and then started to get chips," Avik explained. When asked why he was making such large overbets Avik answered "I was trying to see what their risk appetite was. There wasn't anyone willing to take a chance so I was just pushing people knowing I had the chips to do it."
When asked what he was going to do with the money, Avik responded "I'm getting married in October in India so this will help with the costs of the wedding and gifts." Avik closed by saying how much he loves the Borgata. "I usually play 1-2 No Limit cash games. The Borgata is convenient, has a big poker room, and the staff and people here are great."

Congratulations on your victory Avik!

Avik Mittal (New York, NY) - 1st place - $45,987

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