Mike McDonald, Matt Marafioti and Chris McClung Take Down Holiday Cash In Worldwide Tournaments

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The final tournaments of 2010 on several of the poker world’s biggest stages has brought out the crème of the Canadian poker world, looking to pick up some extra holiday cash to come back home with for their holiday shopping!

Leading off the Canadian charge has been Mike McDonald. Although he “only” made a minimum cash at the World Poker Tour event in Prague last week, Mike has been on a run in the Czech Republic. Following his elimination at the WPT Prague, “Timex” went on to finish in third place in a €1000 Six-Max side event for a €15,000 score. With that money, McDonald entered into the European Poker Tour event in Prague and improved on his performance at the WPT.

McDonald drove deep into the 712 player field at the EPT, falling in 27th place to add another €17,000 to his pockets. If Mike was down about not getting deeper into the EPT Main Event, he didn’t let it show; he immediately moved from that tournament into the €10,000 “High Rollers” event, where he has continued to perform well.

Although down to only 43K in chips at one point, Mike has been able to push his stack up to 210,000 in chips and is currently in the money with seven players left. With roughly €200,000 to divvy up among the seven players, McDonald is in position to make some more cash before he returns to North America.

Another player doing well in the “High Roller” is Chris McClung, who has also been enjoying the playground in Prague. “d0r1t0s” battled to the final three tables in the WPT Main Event before dropping out in 27th place for €12,000, then went on to pick up another €7000 in another side event on the WPT stop. In the “High Roller” tournament, Chris started the Day Two play as the chip leader and is also alive with McDonald to grab his share of the €200,000 prize pool.

Matt Marafioti has chosen a different route to his riches, deciding to step up to the felt at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic. Of the 413 players who put up their $10,000 for the tournament, Matt would prove to be up to the task, driving deep into the tournament. If it hadn’t been for a difficult hand last night, Matt might still be playing this afternoon in search of the $821,612 first place prize.

In what would prove to be the final hand of play on Friday night, Matt went to battle against Andrew Lichtenberger and Blake Kelso. After a bet from Kelso and a reraise from Lichtenberger, Matt made his stand by moving all in. Kelso pushed his bigger stack to the center in an attempt to push Lichtenberger out, but Lichtenberger responded by making the call.

Lichtenberger was ahead with his pocket Kings, but he had little way of improvement as Kelso and Matt both held Big Slick. The all spade flop gave slight hope to Matt (as he held the Ace of spades), but blanks on the turn and river would eliminate both Kelso and Matt. For his fifteenth place finish, Matt Marafioti walked away from the Bellagio $39,806 richer.

Other players who will be coming home with some riches include Nicolas Leger and Mike Watson (both cashed in the EPT Prague), while Peter Jetten and Scott Montgomery exited the Bellagio with something to show for their efforts.

Although the EPT and WPT events will finish this weekend, there is still one more chance for Canada’s poker pros to shine. The third Epic Poker League event begins on Wednesday and McDonald is the reigning champion, having won the second tournament on the EPL schedule. Marafioti is already in Las Vegas and, as a card carrying member of the EPL, may take a shot at the event. Other players such as Watson, Gavin Smith, Greg Mueller and Shawn Buchanan are also card carrying members of the EPL, but no word on their participation has been heard as of yet.

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Earl Burton is a veteran journalist in the poker industry, having covered the game since 2004. He has played the game much longer, however, starting out playing in family games at a very early age. He has covered tournaments across the United States, including the World Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker and various charitable events. Earl’s background includes writing for some of the top poker news sites in the industry as well as other poker media outlets that include Poker Player Newspaper and Canadian Poker Player Magazine. Earl keeps an unblinking eye on the poker world, offering coverage of news from the industry, tournament action, player interviews, strategy and his opinions on the game. Whenever possible, Earl will also step to the tables to demonstrate that there’s more than just writing talent behind his poker game!

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