It seems the WPC here at the Grand Sierra Resort is just the place for getting the monkey off your back. One year ago it was David "The Dragon" Pham, was short-stacked for much of the day and, despite making a miraculous triple-up to get part of the way back into things, was forced to hit the exit in fifth. He was another casualty of Lee Markholt and found himself all-in and out-kicked on an ace-high board.
Jason Potter, a professional who's best known for his achievements in the online arena, may have gotten a tad unlucky along the way to go broke in fourth place. He lost a huge race against Bryan Devonshire with his pocket pair remaining the best hand all the way to the river when an ace hit the felt and paired Devo.
The rest of Potter's stack went in moments after with A-3 looking to suck out, or perhaps chop, against the A-5 of Zachary Hyman. The board ran with neither dream coming true for Potter and he was gone.
Lee Markholt continued his measured strategy from then on and it wasn't long before it began to pay dividends. He got involved in a big hand against Zachary Hyman and managed to suck the younger player into calling off a massive portion of his stack when Lee flopped top pair in a blind-on-blind situation. Crippled, Hyman moved all-in shortly after and found himself on the losing end of a race when his overcards failed to improve against Devonshire's pocket pair.
By the time we reached heads-up play the blinds had climbed to the relatively high figure of $20,000/$40,000. Markholt held a commanding lead and, as we would soon see, it wouldn't take long for him to seal the deal and dispatch yet another opponent.
On just the second hand of heads-up play the final two saw an unraised flop of 4♠ 3♥ 2♠ with Markholt on the button. Devonshire bet into the big stack and got a call. The turn was the J♦ and Devo led out again, only this time Markholt took control of the hand and put in a big raise. Devonshire moved all-in for the rest of his stack and Lee made an easy call with J♥ 4♦ for two pair.
Devonshire knew he was in trouble the second he got looked up but he couldn't have known he would be drawing completely dead with 8-4. Jovial as always, Bryan congratulated the victor and beat a hasty retreat to the bar, where we'll catch up with him in a bit.
In recent memory it seems that professionals have been dominating the big-buy-in tournament sector. This year's World Poker Challenge is no different as Lee Markholt walks away with almost $500,000 and Bryan Devonshire pockets a cool $271,625. PL.com had a chance to chat with Markholt after the victory so make sure to check back tomorrow when that interview will be posted.
This marks the end of our time here in Reno but don't worry, we'll soon be at another tournament to bring you all the action you so desperately crave. We'll be jumping on a jumbo tomorrow morning to make the long trip to Italy where the European Poker Tour is touching down in San Remo.
From there it's off to Monaco while another component of the PL.com army hits Foxwoods for the next stop on the WPT. We're gearing up for the EPT Grand Final as well as the WPT Championship which both go down in the next few weeks so make sure to rest up and get ready for a great month to come.