Phil Ivey Earns WPT Heads-Up Championship Title
The tournament wasn’t exactly a part of the World Poker Tour’s new Season XIX that recently kicked off in Tampa, Florida. (That WPT Tampa event on the main tour recently finished with the previous season’s Player of the Year, Brian Altman, in the winner’s seat again.) The WPT Heads-Up Championship was on the list of “special” events for the World Poker Tour and presented by relatively new online poker site and partner Poker King.
Its prime audience may be the Asia-Pacific market, but Poker King wanted to host an event that showed the reach of the online poker site. With names like Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan representing the site as ambassadors, Poker King wanted to do something that showcased those poker stars and brought others to the site’s tables with them.
The WPT Heads-Up Championship was it. The invitation-only 32-player tournament bring in big poker names like Nick Schulman, Darren Elias, Stephen Chidwick, Doug Polk, Patrik Antonius, and Brad Owen. But to draw a newer audience, Poker King invited celebrities and gamers with a passion for the game but for whom it wasn’t a career. DJ Steve Aoki was one of them, as was chess player Alexandra Botez, GACKT (Japanese pop star), and video gamers Shiphtur and Hafu.
Poker King brought in poker personalities like Joey Ingram and Doug Polk to host the match draws, and they shipped everyone to a resort in Mexico. From there, they could access Poker King while interacting and creating must-see poker content.
With that, the action kicked off on June 18-19 with the first rounds, and it all played out through June 22. The final day was an ideal heads-up scenario, and the winner was none other than Phil Ivey.
Round 1 Winners
The first round on the first day handled half of the initial matches, with the second half playing out on the following day. Two matches at a time on the WPT’s YouTube channel gave fans a chance to watch the action as it happened. The online tables also featured the players themselves on video as they competed, many from the same location in Mexico.
In order of completion, the matches played out in a best-of-three setup as follows:
-Dan Smith defeated Steve Aoki (2-1)
-Stefan Burakov defeated Tim Adams (2-0)
-Olivier Busquet defeated Linus Loeliger (2-1)
-Alexandra Botez defeated Rumay “Hafu” Wang (2-0)
-Anthony Zinno defeated Danny “Shiphtur” Le (2-0)
-Daniel Dvoress defeated Brad Owen (2-1)
-Chris Kruk defeated Nick Schulman (2-1)
-Henri Puustinen defeated qualifier Caterpillar999 (2-0)
-Stephen Chidwick defeated Andrew Lichtenberger (2-0)
-Wiktor Malinowski defeated Nick Petrangelo (2-1)
-Phil Ivey defeated Manig Loeser (2-1)
-Jean-Robert Bellande defeated Lynne Ji (2-0)
-Doug Polk defeated Tom Dwan (2-1)
-Sam Greenwood defeated Kevin Rabichow (2-1)
-Patrik Antonius defeated GACKT (2-1)
-Darren Elias defeated KK-KK1 (2-0)
Day 1 of the Heads Up Championship was a blast!
— PokerKingMedia (@PokerKingMedia) June 19, 2021
Round 2 Winners Head to Final 8
On the third day of action, all of the first-round winners got together to play for the ability to compete in the final eight. Another best-of-three day produced these results:
-Sam Greenwood defeated Alexandra Botez (2-0)
-Wiktor Malinowski defeated Henri Puustinen (2-0)
-Phil Ivey defeated Anthony Zinno (2-0)
-Chris Kruk defeated Olivier Busquet (2-1)
-Dan Smith defeated Jean-Robert Bellande (2-0)
-Patrik Antonius defeated Doug Polk (2-0)
-Stephen Chidwick defeated Darren Elias (2-0)
-Stefan Burakov defeated Dan Dvoress (2-1)
Round 3 Determines Final 4
Another day of best-of-three duels, some of the biggest names in poker took to the virtual tables to compete for places in the final four. And only the final four players would make the money for a guaranteed $100K payout.
-Sam Greenwood defeated Dan Smith (2-1)
-Chris Kruk defeated Wiktor Malinowski (2-1)
-Phil Ivey defeated Stephen Chidwick (2-0)
-Patrik Antonius defeated Stefan Burakov (2-1)
Round 4 Sets Final Match
This round actually began before the last match of the last round ended due to some unforeseen delays. So, Ivey and Kruk decided to play their match without delay.
Kruk dominated much of the first game against Ivey and took it down fairly quickly. He then started strong but Ivey caught up in the second battle, and the latter then took over to claim a win. Kruk started the third and deciding game strong again, but Ivey quickly put a stop to that. And Ivey went about his business quickly, then took 8-4 of spades into a flop with Kruk’s J-T of diamonds. The Q-5-3 flop with one spade and no diamonds delivered a bet and call. The Q of spades on the turn brought the same bet. But when the 7 of spades made the flush on the turn, Kruk moved all-in on a bluff, but Ivey called with that flush.
Phil Ivey operates on a different planet 🐐pic.twitter.com/hTCyGI6suj
— LEGION | Joey Ingram 🐉 (@Joeingram1) June 22, 2021
Shortly thereafter, Antonius won his third round and sidled up to the table to virtually play Greenwood. Antonius played aggressively and won the first game, but Greenwood stepped up his own game in the second game. That one was a power battle, back and forth with double-ups and big pots. Eventually, though, Antonius hit a solid streak of winning hands and capped it off with pocket nines. Greenwood shoved with A-7, though, and Antonius called to see a 9-7-2-4-5 board.
-Phil Ivey defeated Chris Kruk (2-1)
-Patrik Antonius defeated Sam Greenwood (2-0)
On June 22, the two poker heavyweights sat down in the same room to play online for the title.
Ivey took the first game after a back-and-forth battle. Antonius risked it all with A-8, but Ivey called with pocket nines and took it down on a Q-7-5-7-4 board.
Antonius took the lead early in the second game, but Ivey climbed and then doubled into the lead. From there, he quickly put it on the line with pocket jacks on a Q-8-4-3-9 board. Antonius had K-7 for the bluff, which obviously didn’t work. Ivey took the second game in a row.
Again, Antonius started strong, but Ivey expeditiously turned that around and crippled Antonius. It happened with Ivey’s 4-3 on a board of 6-5-2-A-2 board. Antonius had A-6, but his two pair weren’t good. It left Antonius with just 8,400 chips, and he doubled twice to stay in contention. Antonius then took his Q-J of spades into battle against the A-T of Ivey. The board delivered 9-5-3-3-3, and Ivey swept the match.
The final payouts were:
1st place: Phil Ivey ($400K)
2nd place: Patrik Antonius ($200K)
3rd place: Sam Greenwood ($100K)
4th place: Christopher Kruk ($100K)
— PokerKingMedia (@PokerKingMedia) June 22, 2021
Special thanks to the World Poker Tour for live updates and the winner photo.