Joe Pellegrino, on his first live tournament ever, managed to overcome a shark-infested final table and claimed the WSOP-C Playground Main Event title!
The amazingly popular series was, again this year, a tremendous success. The Main Event itself was no exception. It presented four starting flights, including an online flight that featured a novelty: the Online Day 1 & 2. Those who played it went through both Day 1 and Day 2 in a single flight, allowing them to secure a prize before making the trip to Playground, an excellent proposal for out-of-towners.
Players from Days 1A, 1B and 1C merged into one of two Day 2s: Day 2A and Day 2B. Finally, on Day 3, the whole field was brought together in our club to play until the final table, or the end of level 27, whichever came first. The huge number of total entries made it easy to guess that level 27 would conclude way before the final 9 would be decided, and 38 players came back for Day 4.
From 38 players, it took only a few levels to get to 2 tables, and 2 more to form the final table. At that point, however, the average stack counted a lot of big blinds, the level of poker was improved by the resulting depth of stack, and the pace of eliminations slowed down considerably.
We were quite spoiled by the final table play, as all participants showed great skill and determination. Andrew Knowles, winner of an enormous 17M pot early in Day 4, played a great game but exited in 6th place and took $50,000. Samuel Roussy-Majeau, captain of Day 3, managed to take a serious option on the title when he climbed to 40M on the final table, but after a few losses, went out in 5th and was forced to settle for $70,000.
Daniel Neilson was next to go after a taste of Qi Hu’s aces, and left the room $95,000 richer. He was followed by Sinisa Stajic, whose sevens couldn’t hold against the champion’s jacks. His 3rd prize was $130,740.
The heads-up battle was quite short, but high in drama. Pellegrino started with a 3 to 1 advantage. Hu doubled up quickly to even the odds, but very soon, as the champion of Event #5 and his following’s celebrations were going loud on the neighbouring table, our Main Event finalists both picked a hand worthy of dying with.
Pellegrino completed the small blind. Hu raised to 4M chips, or 4 big blinds. Our champion moved all-in, and the call was instantaneous. Pellegrino needed an ace or king, and after 4 cards failed to produce either, he called for a king of hearts. Can you guess what the river was? The full hand is pictured below.
Qi Hu played an unbelievable tournament, and took the runner-up prize of $190,000. Joe Pellegrino, an omaha cash game player, confided that he was playing his very first live tournament. There couldn’t be a better Cinderella story. His friends were close by and cheered him on as he was realizing what he had won.
Our WSOP-C Playground Main Event Champion: Joe Pellegrino – $300,000, the Main Event ring, and entries into the WSOP-C Monterrey Main Event and High Roller!
Last Hand of play: