As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
The fourth preliminary heat of the Party Poker Premier League IV wrapped up at around 8:40pm local time Monday at the M Casino in Las Vegas and for the third time in as many tries, Phil “The Unabomber” Laak came out on top. Laak defeated David Benyamine in heads-up play, which, while not the result Benyamine likely wanted, gave the Frenchman a first, a second, and a third place finish, good for a comfortable second position on the points leader board.
With the victory, Laak has pulled in $96,000 in cash winnings ($32,000 for each heat), just $4,000 short of his $100,000 buy-in. Additionally, with 48 total points, Laak has already locked up a seat at the final table. Even if he is the first player knocked out in his fourth and final heat, an accomplishment that would earn him zero points, it is impossible for him to fall further than second on the leader board. The only player who could pass him for the top spot is Benyamine, who has 35 points after his three heats. With a first place finish in his final heat, Benyamine would end up with 51 points. With prize money at stake in each heat, Laak will still likely be playing to win, although one might guess that if he gets an important phone call, he would be ok with stepping away from the table to take it.
The complete order of finish for Heat 4 was as follows:
1. Phil Laak
2. David Benyamine
3. Luke Schwartz
4. Giovanni Safina
5. Vanessa Rousso
6. Tony G
7. Ian Frazer
8. JC Tran
And the overall standings after four heats:
1. Phil Laak – 48 points
2. David Benyamine — 35 points
3. Giovanni Safina — 21 points
4. JC Tran – 17 points
5. Yevgeniy Timoshenko – 16 points
6. Roland De Wolfe – 14 points
T-7. Vanessa Rousso – 12 points
T-7. Luke Schwartz – 12 points
9. Ian Frazer – 10 points
10. Phil Hellmuth — 6 points
11. Tony G – 5 points
12. Daniel Negreanu – 4 points
While Hellmuth, Tony G, and Negreanu have some work to do to try to make it into the top four, the spots which are guaranteed seats at the final table, keep in mind that they have only played in two heats, while the rest of the field has competed in three heats. A strong finish in the next heat by any of those three would get them right back into the mix. Ian Frazer, a member of Team Party, may actually be in the most trouble, as he is currently sitting in ninth place with three heats in the books. Places five through eight, while not guaranteed a final table seat, will still get a chance to compete in a heads-up playoff for two seats in the final six. But Frazer is currently on the outside looking in and will have to outperform several people to climb into the top eight.
The biggest surprise next to Laak’s three game sweep is the continued success of PartyPoker.com qualifier Giovanni Safina. While he only has a second, a fourth, and a fifth place finish, he sits in third place overall. He still needs to show up and earn some points in his fourth heat, but he’s in good shape to at least make the heads-up playoff. We’re not about to go through all the possible permutations, especially since we don’t know the seat assignments for the fifth and sixth heats, but a third place finish and the eight points that go along with it would likely clinch him a seat at the final table.
The fifth heat of the Party Poker Premier League IV will start at 12:00pm Pacific time on Tuesday.

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