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Mohsin Charania beats the odds and takes down the WPT Grand Prix de Paris title

After five days of poker, Paris crowned a new WPT Main Event champion. An unlikely one for sure, as he came back from the dead after having a 7-to-1 chip disadvantage.

Nothing announced this outcome; the final day seemed to have Belarus written all over the place with Vasili Firsau beginning the six-handed final table with a commanding chip lead of three times the average chip count and a stack four times bigger than his closest opponent.

The first player eliminated was Kimmo Kurko, the short stack of the final table. After a double-up, Kurko once more had his tournament life on the line: he had to win a flip with his Ace-Queen versus Firsau’s pocket Jacks. Unfortunately for him, that wasn’t the case and he finished sixth and pocketed over $90,000. The ex-model Christina Lindley failed to become the first woman to ever win a WPT Main Event. She was unlucky with her Big Slick in an all-in battle versus Elliot Smith, who had the Bullets – pocket aces. However, Smith didn’t stick around long after that, being the next eliminated by the hands of the same Belarus-based player, Firsau. Smith took a chance and three-bet all-in with his Ace-rag only to get called by Firsau, who once again had pocket Jacks.

The next player to fall was Peter Apostolu. He was one river away from doubling up and keeping his WPT title hopes alive; his pocket Queens flopped a full house (5-5-5 board), dodged the blank turn, but were crushed by the King river. Firsau had Ace-King and won the hand by landing the bigger full house.

The player from Belarus began the heads-up match against the American Mohsin Charania, having an apparently insurmountable 7-to-1 chip lead – 4,898,000 versus 712,000. The American started well in heads-up play by doubling up twice, but Firsau kept playing aggressively and took pot after pot, leaving Charania with only 600,000 in chips. So Charania didn’t have a choice and moved all-in with Queen-Four suited. Firsau made a good call with Ace-Six and the flop further buried the American: A-T-3. The turn 2 gave the underdog a gutshot and a slim hope of getting back into the game, a 9% hope to be more exact. The river produced the miracle and Charania doubled up.

That hand was a momentum shifter as the “newly-born” American started taking virtually every pot and eventually took over the chip lead. The final hand was another flip, pocket Tens versus Ace-Queen. Firsau ran out of luck and Charania became the newly-crowned World Poker Tour Grand Prix de Paris Champion. He won $469,477. The Belarusian cashed in $317,867.

“My third final table and I know it takes people a lot more than three to win one so very blessed, very grateful and I’m sure you’ll see me crying tears of joy in the next couple of hours,” Charania said in a WPT interview. According to CardPlayer, the American from Chicago has won over $5 million in both online and live poker tournaments. He has 14 career titles and 210 cashes, including a 2012 EPT Grand Final Monte Carlo win.

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Florian Gheorghe