Several big name poker pros managed to squeeze in one last poker event before gearing up for the seven-week Las Vegas grind that is the World Series of Poker (WSOP). A total of 93 players, including known pros, local grinders and online qualifiers from Party Poker, turned out at the Stampede Casino in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and ponied up $5,000 to compete in the heads-up Canadian Open Poker Championship. While a host of pros populated the field, it was an unknown amateur online player, Benjamin LaBlond, who walked away with the title.
Some of the notables in the field included “Yukon” Brad Booth, Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari, Phill Hellmuth, Gavin Smith, Terrence Chan, Jeff Madsen and the reigning Canadian Open Poker Champion, Huckleberry Seed. After his win in Calgary last year and his recent victory in the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championships, Huck Seed has developed a reputation as the best heads-up tournament player in the world. His record at the NBC Heads-Up event is remarkable, as he has cashed in the tournament every single year since its inception in 2005 and has the winningest record of all its participants.
With all of Seed’s heads-up accolades he was the clear favorite coming into last week’s event, but surprised everyone when he was eliminated in the first round. Other pros fared a little better. Chan, Booth, Madsen and Hellmuth all made it through to the quarter finals. Chan got the best of his quarter final match and Hellmuth made a valiant effort in a six hour-long match against LaBlond. In the end, luck was on LaBlond’s side as he got it all-in with pocket sixes up against Hellmuth’s superior pocket nines and managed to spike a six on the river to hit his set and win the match.
Joining LaBlond in the semi-finals were Madsen and Booth, who was slated to face-off with the local 23 year-old amateur. LaBlond was able to defeat Booth, who finished second in this event last year, to meet Madsen in the finals. According to Madsen’s Twitter feed, he got low early in the first game of the best of three match, but managed to pick up some big pairs to retaliate and win. Things didn’t look much better for LaBlond in the second round, as he was down to only 800 chips compared to Madsen’s 19,200, but he managed to survive numerous all-ins and rallied to victory, tying things up at 1-1.
In the final game of the championship match LaBlond flopped a set of fours and filled up when a second ten hit on the turn. Madsen held A-10 and the two proceeded to get all the chips in the middle. Madsen failed to hit a ten or ace on the river and LaBlond was proclaimed the winner and awarded $100,000. Madsen received $50,000 for his second place finish. While the two-time WSOP bracelet winner is likely disappointed in his performance, he continues his impressive winning streak for 2009. This is his 10th cash so far this year.
This is LaBlond’s biggest win to date, as he normally plays $30-$200 Sit & Gos online. In an interview with CBC News, he said he would be using some of his winnings to buy himself into the Main Event at the upcoming WSOP.

Tight Poker Staff

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For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the best in class for poker site reviews, top online poker bonuses, strategy tips, poker news, and exclusive free poker content.  Consisting of a team of poker and gambling experts, we deliver the best online poker brand experience for players of all levels, from the fish to the sharks.
For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the best in class for poker site reviews, top online poker bonuses, strategy tips, poker news, and exclusive free poker content.  Consisting of a team of poker and gambling experts, we deliver the best online poker brand experience for players of all levels, from the fish to the sharks.