Marchese Crowned King at NAPT Venetian

Tom Marchese
'It's really hard to describe, but it feels really good.'

Just weeks after making third at the Borgata Winter Open, 22-year-old Tom "Kingsofcards" Marchese was crowned champion of the North American Poker Tour Venetian main event.

"It's really hard to describe, but it feels really good," said Marchese, a Seton Hall drop out turned online poker pro who has moved his way up to some off the biggest games on the Internet since leaving school.

"It hasn't really set in yet in terms of the money and the accomplishment. I'm kind of just letting it all sink in."

Eric Blair, who actually finished eighth at Borgata, was the first player to exit Wednesday's final table in Las Vegas when he shoved with sevens facing a Marchese raise.

Start-of-day chipleader Sam Stein pushed in over the top with ace-king and after Marchese folded, a king on the flop sent Blair out eighth again.

A veteran of 26 World Series of Poker final tables, including three wins, Full Tilt pro John Cernuto can now add a PokerStars NAPT seventh place finish to his resume.

Cernuto moved up from his short stack position to start the final table, but after getting all his chips in the middle pre flop with ace-five, he was outdrawn by Stein's jack-ten.

Soon after, 2007 EPT Baden fourth-place finisher Tom Fuller saw his stack dwindle and shipped it in with jacks against a Daniel Clemente raise.

Clemente called with queens to send Fuller out sixth.

With more than a 2:1 chip lead on the nearest player to him and a little less than half of the chips in play, Stein appeared to be running away with the NAPT Vegas title.

His domination even continued when he five-bet shoved with jacks into David Paredes aces and hit a jack to rail him fifth.

Four-handed play went quite long with Stein finally losing the odd pot, but not the lead.

However, Marchese got healthy when Clemente shoved into his turned full house and the New Jersey native said it was then he felt winning was a distinct possibility for the first time.

After doubling once to stay alive, Yunus Jamal was sent packing fourth losing a race with tens versus Marchese's ace-queen.

A few hands later, Marchese shoved with queens, Clemente called with ace-eight and missed to bow out third.

Sam Stein
'It all went well for me and fell apart for (Stein).'

Marchese went into heads-up just three million chips shy of Stein's 13 million and although Stein won the first few hands heads-up, his grip on the title slipped away when he made a river call with third pair against Marchese's top pair.

Just a few hands later, with Marchese suddenly in the lead, he shoved the river again and Stein called with second to the bottom pair.

This time Marchese had a set of tens and, just like that, the NAPT title and $827,648 first-place prize was his.

"When you get heads up you never know whats going to happen," said Marchese. "I was fortunate enough to make some hands and I got called pretty light.

"I know that it's frustrating to go from a pretty dominate chip lead to suddenly being dominated yourself, so people tend to almost spite call. The tide really turned in the space of about five hands were it all went well for me and fell apart for him."

Having beaten a massive field of 872 players to take the first NAPT title contested on North American soil and cement his status as one of the hottest young talents in the game, Marchese said he's going to do what any self respecting poker player would do - Play more poker.

"I'm definitely feeling super confident in my tournament game right now and hopefully this run continues," he said, claiming his next move was to hop a flight to Los Angeles for the World Poker Tour's LA Poker Classic beginning Friday.

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