One of the year’s most interesting and high-profile events has wrapped up with Sorel Mizzi taking home $466,000 and the title of champion at the PartyPoker Premier League VII.
The PPL is exceptionally unique in its structure with 12 players buying in for $125,000 and then playing four 8-person preliminary heats out of the six held to accumulate the most points. After the six heats are completed, the top four point earners advance to the final table and two heads-up matches are played to determine the final two players. This format generally creates high-pressure situations when players try to secure a spot at the final table as the final heats are coming to a close, and this year wasn’t an exception.
A different player won each of the first four heats and this created a very tight point spread. This tight spread created a really intense battle, as anyone could still grab a spot in the final and turn their fortunes around no matter how they had fared in the previous heats. There was only 11 points separating the bottom spot from a wild-card spot with Brian Rast having the least amount of points with only 6.
The 5th heat saw Rast turn his fortunes around quickly and put him in prime position to get through to the final round. He captured the win and 14 points to move into 6th place from 12th and within striking distance of 3rd place and an automatic spot. Dan Shak went out first and added zero points to his score. That meant that it was going to be challenging for Shak to gain a spot in the final as he had managed to get 0 points in two spate heats, with Scott Seiver being the only other player to accomplish that feat up to this point in the tournament.
Heading into the final heat, tensions were high as four players had already completed their four heats. Dan Colman was in great position leading overall and had clinched a spot in the final. Jason Koon was in 3rd and had a tenuous hold on a spot in the finals, but it was far from a secured spot. Daniel Cates and Phil Laak were in the worst positions being in 5th and 7th places, respectively. Both were hoping that their scores would hold enough to allow them to get a spot in the two wild card matchups. With everyone still mathematically alive and able to get a spot in the wild card matches, though, nothing was assured.
The last heat saw a very interesting finish, as the players who mattered least to the final result were eliminated first. Vanessa Selbst was first to be eliminated and she finished with only 9 points. Jeff Gross was the next to be eliminated, but he had so many points that it really didn’t affect anything. Shak saw his hopes of a monumental comeback shattered by gaining only 3 points and finishing with 10 points total. With those eliminations, it turned into a close match to see who would gain those last spots. Antonio Esfandiari could only advance to a wild card spot if he finished ahead of Jonathan Duhamel and Seiver didn’t win or get 2nd place. Esfandiari was not able to pull off any magic tricks, however, as he was eliminated next, while Duhamel finished in 3rd place. Rast captured 2nd place to get an automatic berth in the finals and Seiver took down Heat #6 to sneak into 7th place and earn a place in the wild card match.
Colman, Gross, Mizzi and Rast automatically advanced to the final table and Koon defeated Cates in the first wild card game 2-0 to gain the 5th spot in the final. Seiver captured the 6th and final spot in the final by winning his match 2-1 over Duhamel.
The final table proved to be a much shorter affair, lasting only 186 hands. Mizzi and Gross battled to the final two players remaining with Mizzi having a 9-1 chip lead to start the heads-up portion of the final table. Gross showed his tournament skill by managing to take the lead, but Mizzi eventually battled back and defeated him. For Mizzi, the victory was even sweeter as the event had moved from London to Canada and he managed to capture the title in his home country. This style of event was unique and it once again proved to be an exciting experience for players and fans alike.