The 2013 Seneca Niagara Fall Poker Classic $1,500 Main Event came to a close on Monday at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. After three days of play, Andy Spears went wire-to-wire to capture the trophy and the $52,410 top prize. Spears led after all three days of the tournament and has now won two major events this year at the Seneca Niagara poker room.
Spears bested a field of 149 in this week's no-limit hold'em re-entry event, including a tough final table that included local pros Travell Thomas and Jason Nablo, as well as last year's runner up in this event, Alex Barker. Spears closed out this year's tournament by defeating Brian McCormick heads-up. McCormick turned a free cash game "hot seat" ticket into a Main Event seat, and parlayed that into a $32,610 score.
The action began at noon E.T. with two players absent from the final table. Travell Thomas had apparently overslept and missed a few hands before taking his seat. Ryan Hall was traveling back to the U.S. side of the Niagara Fall border and was about 20 minutes late.
While Clark was still driving to the casino, Scott Gaddi was the first player eliminated. With the blinds at 5,000/10,000/1,000, Spears min-raised from middle position with the , and the action folded over to Gaddi, who shoved for 191,000 from the small blind with the . After Travell Thomas folded his big blind, Spears called. The board ran out , and Gaddi made his way to the cashier to pick up his $5,823 payday.
Hall arrived two minutes later but only played a few hands. He moved all in for 122,000 on the button, and Jason Nablo decided to call from the small blind, leaving just 10,000 behind. Andy Spears folded his big blind, and the cards were tabled.
Both players were essentially committed for their tournament life, and Nablo's 10 kicker held up through the board.
Thomas, a two-time WSOP Circuit ring winner, was one of the favorites coming in, but he took a tough beat to exit in sixth place. Thomas moved his short stack of about 110,000 all in on a flop of and Barker quickly called. Thomas rolled over and was leading against Barker's for top pair of jacks. Everything changed on the turn, however, as the rolled off and gave Barker top two pair. Barker's two pair held up through the river and a disappointed Thomas was eliminated.
After Nablo was eliminated in seventh place by Spears, Nablo's friend Budway Salhab jokingly declared war on Spears. Not surprisingly, the two went to battle, and again Spears had more artillery than his opponent. Salhab opened to 37,000 with the , Spears three-bet to 83,000 from the cutoff with the , and Salhab announced an all in bet for 390,000. Spears pondered for a moment, gave a quick shrug, and announced a call. Spears jumped out into the lead when he paired up on and Salhab stood from his seat and threw his coat on. The turn brought the and the river the , ending Salhab's tournament.
Johannes Mueller exited in fourth place when he ran his sixes into McCormick's aces, leaving three players battling for the title. They were nearly even in stacks, although Spears still had the lead. That lead increased when Spears took a huge pot from Barker, and then McCormick finished Barker off when his pocket kings held up against Barker's .
Spears began heads-up play with the chip lead, but it was far from a cakewalk against the "hot seat" qualifier. The two exchanged the lead numerous times, with McCormick taking control early and holding a chip advantage for most of the way. However, after Spears made a straight during the fourth hour of the heads-up match, he never looked back.
On the final hand of the tournament, Spears and McCormick saw a flop. Spears bet out 60,000 and McCormick called to see the hit the turn. McCormick checked for a second time. Spears moved out 145,000 and McCormick announced an all in bet of around 1 million more. Spears snapped him off.
The river was the , giving Spears nines full of fours for the win. He was congratulated by several friends on the rail, most of whom played in the Main Event.
2013 Fall Poker Classic Final Table Results
Thank you for following our coverage of the 2013 Seneca Niagara Fall Poker Classic. Up next, our live reporting team will be traveling to the Czech Republic for the European Poker Tour stop in Prague from Dec. 12-19. See you then!