Coming into the final event of the 2023 Poker Masters, the series title – and the purple jacket that goes with it – was Vladas Tamasauskas‘ to lose.
That’s not to say that he had it all locked up. As it so happens, six of the eight players at the final table found themselves within striking distance of the top spot. PokerGO’s Tim Duckworth illustrated the possible routes to the purple jacket for each of the six.
A lot of things would have to go right for one of the contenders to knock off Tamasauskas. For Stephen Chidwick, a fourth place finish, or better, would seal the title, but only if Alex Foxen finished outside the top two. Additionally, Chidwick’s path to victory required Chino Rheem, who sat tied with the UK pro on the leaderboard, to bow out before him. Seems a little unlikely, right? Well, that’s exactly what happened, but the journey there is where the real story lies.
Chidwick takes the jacket, Jaffe takes the win
Chidwick entered the final table smack dab in the middle of the chip counts. Foxen, on the other hand, started as the table short stack, while Rheem began with the biggest stack, a serious threat to stake his claim for the title. In the early goings, Foxen found several big hands and used them to great effect, more than quadrupling his chips.
The elimination of Ren Lin took players to the stone money bubble. All eyes were on Chidwick and Cary Katz, who sat on the shortest stacks. Neither, however, went down without a fight.
A massive hand between Chidwick and Nick Petrangelo put Chidwick’s tournament life, and shot at the purple jacket, in jeopardy. Petrangelo’s button open with pocket kings was met with a shove from Chidwick in the small blind with ace-jack offsuit. The all diamond flop provided Petrangelo with top set, but Chidwick’s ace of diamonds offered him many outs. The queen of diamonds turn was one such out and vaulted Chidwick into the lead. The river card came clean and Chidwick scored the full double, clearing him of the danger zone.
Katz, the PokerGO founder, managed to chip up considerably, even freeing himself of the short stack shackles, but two clashes against Foxen led to his exit. The first, saw Katz put Foxen all-in with ace-queen, only to see a snap call and two kings staring up at him from the felt. A flopped set for Foxen left Katz drawing dead on the turn. The second hand saw the roles reverse as Katz held the pocket pair, tens, while Foxen held ace-jack suited. The flop improved Foxen again, pairing his ace, and no help came on the turn or river for Katz, ending his run outside the money.
Jaffe starts strong, finishes strong
Jonathan Jaffe, meanwhile, came into the final table second in chips, just behind Rheem. Jaffe quickly assumed the chip lead by winning some key pots, the most notable against Brian Kim in a blind vs. blind confrontation. A flopped flush for Jaffe, up against two pair for Kim, provided three streets of big value bets. From there, Jaffe never looked back, taking the chip lead all the way to the victory.
Following the elimination of Katz, Chidwick and Jaffe went back and forth. They began to separate themselves from the rest of the field, eliminating players one after another.
Nick Petrangelo was the first to exit following the money bubble. His ace-ten failed to improve against Chidwick’s pocket sixes and he would have to settle for a sixth place finish.
Jaffe responded with an elimination of his own, taking out Chino Rheem. Jaffe’s pocket aces held against Rheem’s ace-jack to score an elimination and, with that, the dominos were all falling into place for Chidwick in terms of the series title race.
Chidwick followed up with his second elimination on the final table, taking out Kim with pocket tens against ace-king. Kim failed to improve on the runout and his day ended with a fourth place finish.
Three-handed play saw Jaffe take complete control of the table, winning pot after pot. Foxen’s stack, in particular, took hit after hit, whittling down to dust. His last hand had him forced all-in from the big blind, holding ace-deuce against Jaffe’s ten-nine. The ace-high flop offered a possible double up, but a runner-runner straight for Jaffe sent Foxen to the rail in third place. At the same time, Foxen’s elimination secured the series title, the purple jacket, and the $50,000 bonus prize for Chidwick.
Heads-up, Chidwick vs. Jaffe
Jaffe came into heads-up play with a five-to-one chip advantage over Chidwick, but that didn’t stop the Brit from battling back and evening the playing field. Pot after pot went Chidwick’s way and, at one point, it looked as though he might overcome the deficit. Jaffe’s good luck returned when it mattered most, however, as he found a three-outer on the river in a massive pre-flop all-in to close out the victory. After limping from the button with ace-three, Jaffe saw fit to pile in the chips when facing a raise from Chidwick. With ace-nine, Chidwick was more than willing to play for it all. The flop and turn came safe for him, but the river brought a three, pairing Jaffe and ending Chidwick’s run in second place.
Check out the videos from PokerGO below to see the dramatic finish and to hear thoughts from both Jaffe and Chidwick on their victories.
Event #10 final table payouts
|1||Jonathan Jaffe (USA)||$756,000||454|
|2||Stephen Chidwick (UK)||$504,000||302|
|3||Alex Foxen (USA)||$336,000||202|
|4||Brian Kim (USA)||$231,000||139|
|5||Chino Rheem (USA)||$168,000||101|
|6||Nick Petrangelo (USA)||$105,000||63|
All Images Courtesy of PokerGO