You'll recall that the CPC's basic organization included some interesting variations on tried-and-true tournament structure. From the fluctuating lengths of blind levels (50 minutes on Day 1, 60 minutes on Day 2, 80 minutes on Day 3), to the fluctuating table assignments (9 players before the field had been narrowed to 30, 6 players afterwards), to the great booming call of the theme from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" sounding at the end of every level with clockwork precision, this was certainly a unique event. The final table would prove to be no different, only this time it was the players themselves who made things interesting.
The final table began with six players in the hunt for a $221,000 first prize. These included three Swedes, remarkable only for their quiet personalities and collective taciturn demeanor; as well as two incredibly boisterous Scots, who with their violent and profane explosions made it impossible for anyone on the island not to realize they were in a hand; and the chip-leader, a Danish professional who goes - apparently - by many names, but who for the purpose of this tournament decided to call himself "Peter Willy."
The Scots were the first to hit the bricks, one after the other. First, Rakesh "BlackFlash" Gupta dropped a pot to Frederik Lofgren, doubling the Swede up with A-8 to his opponent's pocket eights. Gupta seemed to go on tilt after that, raising three hands in a row and seemingly begging to be put all-in. On the hand that would become his death rattle, he looked at his first hole card and professed himself disgusted, and then promptly looked at his second card and moved all-in from second position. He showed pocket deuces when called, and didn't survive the race with Alias Peter Willy's A♣ J♦ to hit the rail in sixth place.
Exactly one hand later, the second Scot was finished. Ryan Craig "Ambad" Boon moved all-in on a board of 7♦ 7♥ J♠ T♦ and got a call from young Frederik Haugen, who showed J♦ 9♠ to Boon's Q♠ 8♦ (?!). The river was the 3♦ and Boon headed to the rail in fifth place, his own worst enemy.
Just like that, the table got extremely quiet, as none of the four remaining men turned out to be very verbose. Alias Peter Willy and Martin Wiklund held commanding chip leads, with the two Swedish Freds, Frederik Lofgren and Fredrik Haugen, on life support with hurting stacks.
Lofgren was the next to go after he'd been blinded and anted to the point of desperation, and his K♣ 2♦ added to Pete Willy's stack when the chip leader called with K♠ 7♦.
At this point, Willy, the favorite with a stack of about $1.12 million compared to Martin Wiklund's $720,000 and Fredrik Haugen's $417,000, requested a pause in proceedings to discuss a split of the remaining prize money. It stood to reason that he would take home the lion's share of the pot, but when tournament organizers suggested a split that would give him $174,647, he proposed a different strategy that would see him receive $10,000 less. Needless to say, his opponents jumped at the suggestion, and with $22,000 left to play for and every player assured of a six-figure finish, the poker resumed.
After the chop, play seemed to tighten up considerably, even though none of the players really had anything left to risk. The action slowed to a crawl, as though the remaining three finalists were on a money bubble that none of them dared to break, instead of playing a virtual freeroll.
When the action did start to heat up again, after about a level's worth of snail's-pace poker, it was Peter Willy who started to show the strain. While at one point he had built his stack to the point where he had a 2:1 advantage over his other two competitors combined, Alias Willy doubled up Fredrik Haugen and twice showed down bluffs for massive losses, going from classy to way ashy over the span of less than an hour, and busting out with a whimper while the sun was still high in the sky.
He would, however, get the last laugh, his third place elimination notwithstanding. Willy took home $165,000 for his finish, which would be more than either of the remaining two finalists would get by the time all the cards were dealt.
Haugen and Wiklund played their heads-up match like two heavyweight titans fighting for a million-dollar pot, rather than a $20,000 addition to an already lucrative day. They traded blows in epic battles to the river, but when the smoke finally cleared it was Fredrik Haugen, the "F-Haug", who landed the knockout punch, when his K♠ Q♠ collided with Wiklund's Q♦ Q♥ preflop and the K♦ landed on the flop.
Haugen was mobbed by jubilant friends, who filled the poker room with harsh whistles as the winner was handed a gigantic check for $221,000 - about $84,000 more than he'll take home in this bonanza. Nonetheless he was thrilled - the happiest $22,000 winner you ever did see. Ironically, runner-up Martin Wiklund will take home a near-identical $135,000 for his second place finish, although admittedly his check will not come with the prestige of Haugen's victory.
So that's the story of the 2006 Caribbean Poker Classic. PokerListings.com was thrilled to get an opportunity to provide comprehensive coverage of such an event, and though the format was unusual and the final table somewhat unique, it didn't make it any less fun to watch. Now if we could only get that Ferris Bueller song out of our heads.