Dan Shak crowned Premier League VI champion

American pro turns second place group finish into $528k first prize

With the preliminary heats concluded, the top eight players from this year’s PartyPoker Premier League returned to the Aspers Casino on Saturday to decide who would be crowned champion. Concluding six days of intense and sometimes emotional poker, it was American, Dan Shak who eventually defeated UK-pro Sam Trickett in an epic heads-up battle that could have gone either way.  
Heading into the final table, Shak was already in a strong position after collecting 39 points in the group stage. With each point worth 10,000 in chips at the final table, plus $2,000 in prize money, Shak began the day in third place with a 390k stack and had already earned back $78,000 of the hefty $125,000 buy-in. 
Tobias Reinkemeier and ex-WSOP champ Jonathan Duhamel were the only two players ahead of him with respective stacks of 460k and 420k. The other players at this year’s final table were Dan Cates, Talal Shakerci, Sam Trickett, Antonio Esfandiari and Jennifer Tilly.

Final Group A standings and earnings after 4 heats:

1. Jonathan Duhamel – 42pts – $84,000 
2. Daniel Cates – 34pts – $68,000 
3. Sam Trickett – 27pts – $54,000
4. Antonio Esfandiari – 23pts – $46,000 (Had to play Scott Seiver heads-up for a spot in the final)
5. Scott Seiver – 21pts – $42,000 (Had to play Antonio Esfandiari heads-up for a spot in the final)
6. Phil Hellmuth – 21pts – $42,000 *
7. Marvin Rettenmaier- 16pts – $32,000
8. Daniel Negreanu – 16pts – $32,000
* Tie-breaker decided by highest individual finish across the four heats. Scott finished second in heat three, Hellmuth’s best finish was third.

Final Group B standings and earning after 4 heats:

1. Tobias Reinkemeier – 46pts – $92,000
2. Dan Shak – 39pts – $78,000
3. Talal Shakerchi – 28pts – $56,000
4. Tony G – 26pts – $52,000 (Had to play Jennifer Tilly heads-up for a spot in the final)
5. Jennifer Tilly – 19pts – $38,000 (Had to play Tony G heads-up for a spot in the final)
6. Phil Laak – 18pts – $36,000
7. Jason Mercier – 16pts – $32,000
8. Igor Kurganov – 8pts – $16,000
Despite starting the final table fifth in chips, helped further by a strong start, Talal Shakerchi was the first to go. A big all-in clash with Antonio Esfandiari that didn’t go his way left him virtually chipless and the very next hand he committed his remaining chips with a pair of kings only to get outdrawn by Jennifer Tilly who hit her ace.
The win didn’t do Tilly much good though and after losing a significant proportion of her chips to Sam Trickett soon after, it wasn’t long before she was forced into shoving what she had left with only 9-5. Jonathan Duhamel was only too happy to make the call with A-Q and when the board improved neither player’s hands, Tilly had to make do with seventh place.
The highest point scorer from the group stages and the player with the largest starting stack at the final table, surprisingly was next to go. Right from the off he couldn’t seem to get it going and as his stack steadily dwindled so did his patience. After seeing a three-way flop with Dan Cates and Duhamel, Cates made clear his intent leading out for 25,000 on a dangerous looking 4-7-6 flop. After thinking about it briefly, Reinkemeier moved all-in for his remaining 185,000 chips hoping to win the pot there and then, but ominously Duhamel cold-called behind him. Cates smartly got out of the way and when Reinkemeier turned over K-7 for top pair he clearly thought he was in pretty good shape, but Duhamel’s 5-3 for a flopped straight meant that only a minor miracle could save Reinkemeier now and unluckily for him, it never came.  
From that point onwards Shak assumed centre stage and began his final table demolition. First to get in his way was a very unlucky Dan Cates. Getting it all-in with the better hand, Cates simply had to dodge the two remaining fours in the deck to ensure that his pocket sevens stood up to Shak’s pair of fours. But it wasn’t to be and a four on the flop saw Cates hit the rail in fifth place.
Soon after, Shak dispatched of Duhamel when he flopped two pair and the ex-WSOP hit his worse two pair on the turn. As the raises and re-raises poured in there was no way Duhamel could get away from the hand and in the end it cost him his tournament life. Esfandiari, who only just made the final table, became Shak’s third straight elimination and the final two were set.
Despite his dominance in the latter stages, at the start of the heads-up battle Shak held only a modest 2-to-1 advantage over Trickett. And the Englishman turned the tables when he doubled up after out-flushing Shak. But Shak wasted no time regaining his lead, thanks largely to one specific hand that left Trickett completely confused. On a board of As-8h-2h-Ts-7h, Shak moved all-in on the river for 1.165 million, despite the pot being a mere 200k. Still unsure what exactly to do Trickett eventually made the call after ten minutes showing T-2 for two pair. But Shak’s irregular play had worked and he turned over Qh-4h for the rivered flush. Trickett was virtually done after that with only 78k left in chips compared to Shak’s monster stack of over 2.5 million.
The very next hand it was all over and Dan Shak joined Juha Helppi, Andy Black, J.C.Tran, David Benyamine and Scott Seiver as Premier League champion.

Here’s how the final table finished up:

1. Dan Shak – $450,000
2. Sam Trickett – $200,000
3. Antonio Esfandiari – $150,000
4. Jonathan Duhamel – $125,000
5. Daniel Cates – $100,000
6. Tobias Reinkemeier – $70,000
7. Jennifer Tilly – $60,000
8. Talal Shakerchi – $45,000
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