John Dibella survived seven tough days of the $10,000 buy-in main event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) to emerge victorious from his heads-up clash with fellow American Kyle Julius at Paradise Island’s Atlantis Resort and Casino.
Arizona-based Dibella and Julius, of Illinois, agreed a deal so each player received $1.5 million once they met head-to-head, leaving an additional $275,000 for the winner.
Dibella – a stock trader from New York State’s Westchester County – will be thrilled with his victory from a 1,072-strong field as his previous best cash had been for just $16,000 after finishing in 60th place at the 2008 PCA $7,800 buy-in main event.
In fact, he said: “I am overwhelmed. It feels so surreal, and I can’t believe it’s happening – I’m sure it will hit me tomorrow.”
Faraz Jaka Takes Third Place
Third place went to San Jose’s Faraz Jaka for $755,000, and he was followed by Canadian duo Xuan Liu ($600,000) and Mark Drover ($468,000) in fourth and fifth respectively.
Sixth place went to American Anthony Gregg ($364,000), while the top 10 was completed by Canadian David Bernstein (seventh for $260,000), the Netherlands’ Ruben Visser (eighth for $156,600), New York State’s Lee Goldman (ninth for $101,000) and London-based Swede Martin Jacobson (10th for $101,000).
Dibella had started in fifth place once the final table had been reached, but took the title and $1,775,000 after defeating Julius.
The 43-year-old champion entered his heads-up battle with Julius with 18,585,000 compared to his opponent’s 13,105,000 – and at no point was headed in the race for the title.
Dibella’s Flush Secures Title
Dibella, with 6♣ 5♣, picked up the extra cash for victory with a flush after Julius, who held 9♦ 6♠, had bluff-raised the 10♣ river following a flop of A♣ Q♥ 3♣ and turn of 8♦.
Earlier in the final day, former Team PokerStars Pro Visser – who had begun the final table fourth in chips – found it hard going with the leading stacks to his left and the small stacks to his right.
The Dutchman was unable to overcome this huge disadvantage and hit the rail first in eighth place.
Visser was hammered down when Newfoundland’s Drover, in the big blind, went all-in for approximately nine big blinds while holding A♥ Q♦.
Ruben Visser Hits Rail in Eighth
Big blind Visser called with A♣ J♣ and, while he did flop a flush draw, he could not improve his hand and lost out.
He was hitting the rail soon after when his hold cards of 6♣ 6♠ lost out in a race to the A♥ Q♦ of Julius after a queen arrived on the flop.
Canuck Bernstein was eliminated in seventh place after three-bet shoving his 4♠ 4♣ into the A♦ A♣ of Dibella.
A third quick elimination arrived when Maryland’s Gregg – who had collected $1.7 million for his runner-up finish in the same event from 2009 when losing out to Canadian Poorya Nazari – hit the rail in sixth.
Anthony Gregg Crashes To Xuan Liu
Having started the final table with the smallest stack, Gregg did his best to improve his chances of victory, but eventually fell when his A♠ 10♠ ran into the A♦ Q♣ of sole female Liu.
The turn had given Gregg a flush draw, but that was as good as it got as he hit the rail.
Canada’s Drover showed incredible skill and determination to battle back from holding just three big blinds with a quartet of double-ups, but faltered when his K♥ J♠ was unable to beat Jaka’s 6♣ 6♠.
Drover three-bet all-in and was called by Jaka. No help arrived for Drover, leaving us with just four survivors as the dinner break arrived.
Last Woman Eliminated in Fourth
Toronto’s Liu was out immediately after the break. On the button, she went all-in with Ad-7d on the first hand following their meals and received a call from big blind Jaka.
Jaka showed A♥ 6♦ to be way behind, but got lucky as the board read A♣ 6♥ 3♥ 5♦ 2♦ to give him two pair and eliminate Liu in fourth place. Still, Liu can content herself with the best ever finish by a woman in the PCA main event.
Thereafter, Julius and Jaka took turns as chip leader when play became three-handed.
However, Jaka could not stay in contention long enough to make it to a heads-up encounter when he again encountered Julius in what became a defining moment in the tournament.
Julius Doubles-Up Through Jaka
Following a pre-flop raising battle against Julius, Jaka five-bet all-in his K♥ J♦, only to find himself dominated by the A♦ K♣ of smaller stack Julius. The flop of A♣ K♠ 7♦ 9♥ 8♥ secured a double-up for Julius.
Jaka stayed alive after doubling-up on the very next hand, but then came another momentous hand that resulted in Dibella taking over as chip leader.
On the button, Jaka opened with a raise while holding 6♣ 6♠, only for small blind Dibella, with 7♣ 7♥, to three-bet.
Big blind Julius had A♣ A♥ and played it cool with a call. Jaka must have picked up on something as he quickly folded to leave Dibell and Julius to battle for this pot.
Champion Takes Control
The flop came down 8♦ 7♦ 3♦ and Dibella check-called with his trip sevens before making a full house when the 8♥ arrived on the turn.
Dibella check-raised and that saw him and Julius chuck all their chips into the middle. But the river gave Julius no help and Dibella was back in control.
Jaka was gone in third place soon after when his hole cards of A♠ J♠ lost out to the K♠ 10♣ of Julius when the board showed K♥ 6♠ 2♣ 10♦ A♣.
The came the heads-up fight between Dibella and Julius that ultimately left the former as champion after they had reached a deal.
Team PokerStars Pros Placings
Among the other notable players in the money were Team PokerStars Pros Barry Greenstein (25th for $46,000), Luca Pagano (30th for $46,000), Jan Heitmann (38th for $41,000), Arnaud Mattern (58th for $32,500), Leo Fernandez (78th for $27,500), Christian De Leon (90th for $22,500), Joao Nunes (117th for $17,500), Noah Boeken (126th for $17,500), Liv Boeree (133rd for $17,500) and Juan Manuel Pastor (155th for $15,000).
PokerStars SportsStar Gualter Salles – who is a Brazilian racing driver – finished in a very respectable 107th for $20,000, while Team PokerStars Online members Javier Dominguez Gomez, Randy Lew – both $17,500 – Anders Berg ($15,000) and Shane Schleger ($15,000) showed up well to fill places 114, 120, 141 and 156.
Additionally, Phil D’Auteuil secured 11th place for $85,000, while the likes of Erik Cajelais (43rd for $37,500), Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia (51st for $35,000), Yevgeniy Timoshenko (52nd for $35,000), Chris Klodnicki (61st for $32,500), Phil Collins (84th for $25,000), Carlos Mortensen (94th for $22,500), Connor Drinan (102nd for $20,000), Andrew Lichtenberger (105th for $20,000) and Shawn Buchanan (130th for $17,500) also made the money.
Top 10 payouts from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $10,000 buy-in main event (* denotes deal to leave $275,000 for the winner):
1. *John Dibella (USA) – $1,775,000
2. *Kyle Julius (USA) – $1,500,000
3. Faraz Jaka (USA) – $755,000
4. Xuan Liu (Canada) – $600,000
5. Mark Drover (Canada) – $468,000
6. Anthony Gregg (USA) – $364,000
7. David Bernstein (Canada) – $260,000
8. Ruben Visser (Netherlands) – $156,600
9. Lee Goldman (USA) – $101,000
10. Martin Jacobson (Sweden) – $101,000