WPT action

It’s a royal rumble at the Bellagio as world’s top players
battle it out for the World Poker Tour Championship crown

A record $14m prize pool at this year’s World Poker Tour Championship event made for one of the most hotly-contested tournaments ever as 600 runners fought for a buttock-clenching $3.7m first prize. When the dust settled at the highrolling Bellagio casino it was Vegas pro Joe Bartholdi who was left clutching the title and a wheelbarrow-full of cash.

The $25,000 buy-in event has become one of the most prestigious tournaments on the poker calendar with the biggest prize pool outside the World Series. As the pinnacle of the WPT’s annual circuit the Five-Star World Poker Classic pours the cream of the tournament-playing world into a heady mix of unknown internet qualifiers. Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harman, Phil Hellmuth, Evelyn Ng, Johnny Chan and Freddy Deeb were some of the big name players that made the money. Although Gus Hansen and Daniel Negreanu – two of the most successful WPT players ever – failed to place.

But it was Bartholdi, a solid pro who’s previously made two final appearances at World Series events, who took down the WPT’s premier event. Bartholdi entered the six-handed final table just behind James Van Alstyne but raked a large chunk of the chip leader’s stack just four hands into the TV final with two-pair. His calm play fired him into pole position and he never looked back. David Matthew applied some real pressure heads-up but ultimately lost out when he failed to hit his flush draw. But a healthy $1,903,950 for second place isn’t a bad consolation prize.


Despite four Americans and a Canadian filling five of the six places at the final table, there was an incredibly strong showing from the UK with England’s Roland de Wolfe finishing third. Overall British players walked away with around a tenth of the $14,671,250 prize pool. Surinder Sunar and ‘Rocky’ Ross Boatman both pocketed over $100,000 for their 19th and 20th place finishes. Boatman was knocked out by fellow Englishman de Wolfe when his A-9 was dominated by A-10.


De Wolfe, who had already won one WPT event in Paris last year, was left to fly the flag and didn’t let the side down. He hung on long enough to make the final table as one of two short stacks – alongside one of the best players of 2005 Men ‘The Master’ Nyugen – and then played an aggressive chip-shunting game at the final table to get back into contention. A crucial double through against Van Alstyne with pocket Kings pushed de Wolfe into fourth and Van Alstyne into the gutter.

De Wolfe eventually finished third, taking $1,025,205 back to the UK. Added to his victory at the Grand Prix de Paris event last July de Wolfe’s WPT winnings tip the scales at one-and-a-half million dollars. Not bad work for sitting on your arse for a week or two.

Final positions and prizes:

1. Joseph Bartholdi (USA), $3,760,165
2. Davidson Matthew (USA), $1,903,950
3. Roland De Wolf (UK), $1,025,025
4. Claus Neilson (USA), $695,120
5. James Van Alstyne (USA), $439,375
6. Men “The Master” Nguyen (USA), $292,915

Pin It

Comments are closed.