The PlayNow Poker Championship is back in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The four-event series got started on Wednesday, April 20, with the $600 Winnipeg Free Press No Limit Texas Hold’em Tournament.
Action kicked off at noon at the beautiful McPhillips Station Casino and players received 10,000 chips at their seat to battle through 30-minute blind levels. When registration closed after Level 3, 151 entries had created a prize pool of $83,050.
There were 16 players set to earn a payout in the tournament and the money bubble was reached late in the evening. Hand-for-hand play began, awaiting the next elimination, and play screeched to a halt. It took more than an hour and a half with the tournament clock paused for the 17th-place elimination finally came.
With most of the field sitting with very short stacks, eliminations came quickly and the final table was set only minutes after the bubble burst.
Garth Arnason came to the final table with a big stack and he added to it by eliminating seven out of the eight final-table players who made their exit on Day 1.
The first two bustouts were found shortly after play began at the final table and Arnason was the first into the pot with a big raise to 40,000 from under the gun with blinds at 4,000/8,000 with a 500 ante. Tom Humaski made the call in middle position and Aaron Lapointe went all in for an extra 500 in the big blind. Both of his opponents called the small amount extra.
The flop of saw Arnason lead out with a bet of 40,000 and Humaski responded by jamming all in for 176,000 more. Arnason called.
“I don’t what you guys have,” Lapointe said, confused. He turned over for top pair with top kicker. Arnason turned over for a straight draw and Humaski held for second pair for the side pot. The turn of was a blank but the river gave Arnason the straight and eliminated both opponents at once.
As the clock ticked into the early morning, players were eliminated and collected their payouts until play paused at almost 2:30 a.m. with just two players remaining. Russ Meilunas had been eliminated just a few minutes earlier in third place and only a few hands of heads-up had been played.
As the chips were counted and bagged for Friday’s Day 2, Arnason’s huge stack came in at 1,218,000 with Kyle Menne set to return with 307,000.
Menne will have his work cut out for him, but he’s a heads-up champion and knows what he’s doing in this situation. In last year’s PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker, Menne won the $215 heads-up pot-limit Omaha event, beating Shaun Deeb in the final round and earning $27,379.32 for the win along with a Movada champion’s edge. Menne plays online as “km_freestyle”.
Garth Arnason has been playing live tournaments in the prairie provinces for years with his largest cash coming in 2012 in the Harvest Poker Classic Main Event at Casino Regina. He pocketed $19,196 for finishing third in that tournament. Despite years of tournament results, Arnason has yet to win a tournament, so he’ll be looking to close the deal for the first time at the PlayNow Poker Championship.
PokerNews Canada will be on the tournament floor bringing you live updates of all the action. Play resumes at noon and likely will not take long to determine who will walk away with the first-place prize of $22,369, the trophy, and the silver champion’s ring. Follow along on our live tournament page starting at noon.