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Nabil Hirezi Wins WPT Jacksonville

The World Poker Tour returned to Jacksonville, Florida for the second time this season. The first stop was back in November 2013 when Jared Jaffee finally broke the ice and won his first major title. He was close to reaching yet another final table as he started Day 3 with the chip lead. But the poker gods didn’t help him this time as he finished in 12th place after running into #kc#ks.

The poker gods favored a local player this time around, a 59-year-old dentist and philanthropist by the name of Nabil Hirezi. He entered the final day with the biggest stack at the table and the only player with 100 big blinds or more. The other five players also had decent stacks that didn’t require immediate action.

However, the first elimination came on the second hand of six-handed play. Former WPT Player of the Year Faraz Jaka was the unlucky player who finished in sixth place. He woke up with #kc#ks and three-bet Peter Le, who open-raised from under the gun. Le four-bet and Jaka put all his chips in the middle confidently. His confidence was shattered, though, after his opponent called and turned over #ac#as. The board brought Le the full house and the former PoY left the table with a $38,241 prize.

The next player to step out was WPT Legends of Poker winner Jordan Cristos. He called Hirezi’s all-in on the river but mucked his hand after his opponent showed him a made straight. Cristos cashed in $47,802 for his fifth place finish.

The four-handed action was intense with players doubling up at the expense of the big stack. Le lost a big pot on the 69th hand, remaining with only two big blinds. After a double-up, he was all-in again with both Hirezi and Brian Green calling. Green flopped a set that sent Le home with $63,682 in his pockets.

Thirteen hands later, Green joined his victim. He three-bet his #qs#qh hand pre-flop after James Calderaro open-raised from the button. Calderaro, who had #jh#10d, stuck around and on a #jd#10s#5s flop he snap-called Green’s all-in with the magical two pairs. Third place brought Green a prize of $86,043.

Heads-up play lasted 49 hands and Hirezi had a difficult task at hand having less chips and less big poker action experience than his opponent. Calderaro was rolling; he won the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open last month and finished in tenth place in the last WPT Rolling Thunder event. But this didn’t impress the local dentist, who eventually drilled his way to victory.

Hirezi fought hard and also caught a lucky break in the last hand of the tournament. After a raise and two reraises pre-flop, both players got their chips in the middle. The local player had #10c#10d while the WPT Lucky Hearts winner held #ac#kd. The #kh#6h#5h flop propelled Calderaro into the lead and the #qh turn gave Hirezi some extra outs for the chop. The #10s river, however, put an end to the tournament, with James Calderaro finishing in second place for $133,764.

Congratulations to Nabil Hirezi, who won $206,041 and a special opportunity to compete with the best of the best next month in Atlantic City in the season-ending WPT World Championship.

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Florian Gheorghe

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