The 2012 Punta Cana Poker Classic Main Event Drew around than 380 entries this go around, easily making it’s 500k guarantee and once again shining the spotlight on some Canadian players.
Toronto’s Nichola Basile, Montreal’s Eric Grenier and Bill Kontaratos as well as Calgary’s Kelly Kellner all advanced to Day 4 and the final table of 9 on Wednesday, shooting for a top prize of more than $135,000. Along with a six-figure payday, some extra bragging rights of continuing a proud streak are attached; a Canadian has won the event since it’s inaugural introduction in 2010.
Last year, Ontario’s Demo Kiriopoulos took home nearly $137,000 for shipping the event, more than double the around $63,000 Canada’s Peter Cross won in 2010.
According to the live update blog, late play of Day 3 seen some Nicola and Kellner clash hard in an all in pre-flop confrontation that found Kelly in need of some help; holding Pocket 4’s versus Basile’s Jacks. Kellner spiked the miracle to stay afloat however, flopping the four for the double.
While he didn’t do much damage to Nichola’s stack then, it would again be Kellner who took a sizable chunk out of Nichola’s stack on the final table as the two found each other AIPF with Kelly holding Sevens to Basile’s Sixes. Though way ahead this time, once again the flop was kind enough to bring the set and it left Nichola all but out. Montreal’s Bill Kontaratos would eventually send Nicola Basile packing in 8th for $14,375.
Bill would be the next Canadian to hit the rail however, finding himself out kicked and dominated by a bigger Ace to finish 6th for $18,800. Kontaratos also finished 6th at the $1,100 Stardust Poker Classic I last month, further proving a consistency at the game here.
Short handed play continued to whittle down the final table until finally, Matthew Weber, Eric Grenier and Kelly Kellner found themselves the final 3, reportedly agreeing to an $80,000 per player deal that would see $15,000 and the title still up grabs, giving a reason to play to completion.
Eric was the first to go, claiming third but definitely earning some bragging rights by improving on his 15th place finish in the same event last year.
Kellner narrowly missed making it 3 for 3 with a runner up finish to Weber, but locked down a payday nearly 3 times his previous largest cash for winning the 2009 $1,500 Grey Eagle Casino Fall Classic.
Other notable Canadian finishers included Toronto’s Griffin “Flush_Entity” Benger, often ranked as the top online player on the planet according to PocketFives.com and also certainly a staple name on our own CanadaPoker.com WCOOP and SCOOP recaps. He collects $4,425 for his time in Punta Cana this tournament; mere peanuts considering his over roughly $3,720,000 in previously tracked online and live cashes.