Florida student Matt Juttelstad has boosted his bank account after picking up $268,444 for winning the World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open in Hollywood.
Juttelstad – after a year away from poker – only decided to enter the $3,500 buy-in main event as he was in the area to interview for a place at Florida Atlantic University, but busted out on Day 1a, only to re-enter on Day 1b as his meeting finished much earlier than he had expected.
So, with some more spare time on his hands, Juttelstad paid that additional $3,500 to once more take his seat – eventually outlasting 294 other entrants, who created a $958,750 prize pool, to take the WPT title and Champions Cup by defeating Day 4’s starting chip leader Gigi Gagne heads-up.
Gagne left with $158,194 for her runner-up spot, but will be disappointed not to have become the first female to collect a WPT crown.
Uri Kadosh Exits in Third Place
Two more Florida natives, Uri Kadosh ($105,463) and Sharon Levin ($73,344), filled places three and four, while Todd Jacobson ($54,649) exited in fifth and Keith Ferrera ($42,185) was eliminated in sixth from the six-handed final table.
But it wasn’t easy for Juttelstad, with the final table lasting nine hours – as well as over 300 hands – before he emerged victorious from his head-to-head with Gagne.
Juttelstad, who was the chip leader on more than 5.6 million, secured his place in that match-up by eliminating Kadosh on hand 271 of the final day when the blinds were 30,000 and 60,000, and the ante at 10,000, during level 28.
On the button, Juttelstad raised to 125,000, only for big blind Kadosh to move all-in for approximately 1,300,000. Juttelstad made the call holding A♥ J♠, while Kadosh turned over J♣ 8♦.
Kadosh needed help to stay in contention, but the A♦ 4♣ 2♣ 6♦ 7♠ board was no good to him as Juttelstad made a pair of aces on the flop – and that was that for Kadosh.
Eventual Champion Takes Big Lead into Heads-Up
Juttelstad held a huge advantage over Gagne as heads-up play started, with the former possessing 6,820,000 chips – or about 114 big blinds – to the latter’s 2,030,000 (34 big blinds).
However, it took another 33 hands before Juttelstad secured the tournament’s final elimination, although he never appeared to be particularly troubled by Gagne as he remained close to his initial heads-up stack.
Now into level 29, with the blinds at 40,000 and 80,00 and the ante still 10,000, the final hand – number 303 of the day – saw Juttelstad limp in from the button and Gagne check.
The battling duo saw a 5♣ 3♠ 2♥ flop that prompted Gagne to lead out for 300,000. Juttelstad made the call to see the A♠ on the turn, which resulted in Gagne shoving all-in for approximately 1,800,000.
Juttelstad Goes Straight to Victory
Juttelstad called immediately to show 6♥ 4♣ that ensured he had a better straight than Gagne, who tabled 10-4 to show a five-high straight.
With her stack committed and tournament life on the line, Gagne needed any six on the river to stay alive, but it came down 8♠ and a new WPT champion was crowned.
The six-handed final table started with Gagne as chip leader on 2,708,000, while Juttelstad was over a million behind in second on 1,651,000, although the former dropped down as 89 hands played out before the day’s first elimination.
Ferrera was the player exiting when he came up against Juttelstad during level 23. In middle position, Juttelstad raised to 45,000, only for small blind Ferrera to make it 120,000 to go.
Keith Ferrera Downed By Trip Nines
But Juttelstad then four-bet to make it 305,000, leaving Ferrera to give his next move some serious thought – for almost two minutes – before going all-in.
Juttelstad called to show 9♣ 9♠ while Ferrera held Q♣ J♥. The J♠ 6♠ 5♥ flop gave Ferrera top pair and the 8♥ turn changed nothing to keep him ahead – and just one card from doubling-up.
However, the 9♥ on the river handed Juttelstad trips and Ferrera was hitting the rail in sixth place.
Play continued for quite some time before the next elimination arrived. In fact, 102 more hands came and went before Jacobson was packing up during level 26, when the blinds were 20,000 and 40,000, with a 5,000 ante.
Todd Jacobson Out in Fifth
In the cut-off position, Levin moved all-in for approximately 800,000, to be called by Jacobson, on the button, for his remaining 600,000 or so.
Jacobson showed 10♦ 10♥ to be ahead of Levin’s A♦ 4♦ and was well on the way to doubling-up.
The flop came K♦ 8♠ 7♥ to keep Jacobson in front, but the A♠ handed Levin top pair and the 8♥ was a dead card as Jacobson exited.
Levin, though, did not stick around too much longer, exiting 24 hands later when running into Gagne.
On the button, Levin moved all-in for 810,000 with A♣ 3♠, only to be dominated by the A♠ 10♣ of caller Gagne.
Sharon Levin Eliminated by Gigi Gagne
Levin was drawing thin to stay alive and was given no help on a board that read 9♦ 6♠ 5♥ J♣ Q♦, so leaving Gagne as the pot winner with her 10 kicker.
That left us with just three players, with Kadosh just ahead on about 3,250,000, Juttelstad second on approximately 3,050,000, and Gagne third on 2,550,000 or thereabouts.
But Kadosh couldn’t hold on to his chip lead, falling 55 hands later to Juttelstad to set up his heads-up clash with Gagne.
The unfortunate final table bubble boy was Virginia’s Omar Sider, who still picked up $32,598 for his seventh-placed finish.
Omar Sider is Final Table Bubble Boy
Sider was the short stack on 274,000 in chips – just under 23 big blinds at the time – when Juttelstad sent him packing to end Day 3.
Under the gun, Juttelstad opened for 26,000 and Ferrera, in the cut-off seat, three-bet to make it 61,000. Small blind Sider called, but then Juttelstad raised it even more to 91,000, promoting Ferrera to swiftly fold.
The action was now back on Sider and, incredibly, he showed J♠ J♥ for all to see. However, a tight-lipped Juttelstad kept quiet before Sider moved all-in.
Juttelstad made the call to reveal A♣ K♥ and was delighted to see the dealer place A♦ 8♦ 8♥ 6♥ 7♦ on the felt to give him aces and eights and send Sider to the rail.
Harrison Gimbel Takes Ninth Spot
With 27 players paid, some of the more notable money finishers were Harrison Gimbel (ninth for $17,258), Christian Harder (13th for $11,505), Raj Vorha (15th for $11,505), Noah Schwartz (18th for $10,067) and Darryll Fish (23rd for $8,629).
The next stop on the WPT pulls into the Commerce Casino – the world’s largest – in California for the LA Poker Classic, which runs from February 24 to 29 and includes a $10,000 buy-in main event.
WPT Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Open Top 10 payouts
1. Matt Juttelstad (USA) – $268,444
2. Gigi Gagne (USA) – $158,194
3. Uri Kadosh (USA) – $105,463
4. Sharon Levin (USA) – $73,344
5. Todd Jacobson (USA) – $54,649
6. Keith Ferrera (USA) – $42,185
7. Omar Sider (USA) – $32,598
8. Hal Klein (Australia) – $23,969
9. Harrison Gimbel (USA) – $17,258
10. Victor Heffesse (USA) – $13,423