The final event of Season II of World Poker Tour's high-rolling Alpha8 tour began in sunny Florida on Saturday. This was the second time Alpha8 set up shop at the Seminole Hard Rock, but it was the first time ever that the event has been a winner-take-all tournament.
A buy-in of $100,000 gets the players a starting stack of 100,000 chips. However, only six players were willing to pay the price of admission. In fact, the tournament got off to a late start as organizers waited for a minimum of five players to register before play could begin.
The lineup was an all-American affair with an impressive roster of high-roller talent taking a seat. The group of six was made up of Dan Colman, Byron Kaverman, Bryn Kenney, Jason Mercier, Jake Schindler, and Noah Schwartz.
With so few players participating, the prize pool of $585,000 was set aside for just the winner. Second place will go home empty-handed — a first in Alpha8's brief history.
Bryn Kenney — the third-place finisher of PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $100,000 Super High Roller and 11th-place finisher of the $25,000 High Roller at the same series earlier this month — was the first to be eliminated. After losing a large portion of his stack, he moved all in preflop with but was dominated by Jason Mercier's . With no help on the board, Kenney's run at this final Alpha8 of the season was cut short, but he has just shy of $1 million in earnings already this year to console his sorrows.
Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier was the next to lose his stack. He was also left short and found himself folded to in the small blind. He saw his opportunity and pushed all in with . Schindler made the call from the big blind with and Mercier appeared to be five cards away from a double up. However, those five cards had other plans. On a runout of , Schindler completed an unfortunate straight, eliminating Mercier from the tournament.
The fourth-place finisher was none other than Dan Colman, the winner of last year's Big One for One Drop for $15.3 million. He was looking for his first cash of the year after having an astonishingly successful 2014, but it was not to be found at this event. He pushed all in over Schindler's open and was about a 58% favourite, according to the PokerNews Odds Calculator, when he showed as Schindler called with . The board paired the queen and left Colman with nothing but ace high, forcing his end to the night.
Byron Kaverman was next to go when he called Schwartz' shove with blind versus blind. The all-in bet from Schwartz had Kaverman covered, and his saw the two staged for a race. The board brought cards that didn't look anything like Kaverman's. The threes held and Kaverman was headed to the exits with nothing to show for his $100,000 investment.
Heads-up play between the two Sch's — Schindler and Schwartz — began fairly evenly with Schwartz holding a thin chiplead with 321,000 to Schwartz' 279,000. The original schedule for the event was to wrap up Day 1 after 11 levels. Not quite ready to settle this $585,000 battle on the same day it started, the two stuck to the schedule and bagged their chips to resume play on Sunday. By the time play paused for the night, the chiplead had switched and Schwartz now holds 374,000 to Schindler's 226,500.
Play resumes at noon ET to see which of these two players will earn the cash, the gold Monster 24K headphones, the Hublot King Power Unico Titanium watch, and the prestige of being the final winner of Alpha8 Season II. We'll have a recap of the day's events for you shortly thereafter.
Details and photo courtesy of the WPT Live Blog.