Morrison and the Matador: Carlos Mortensen is Champion!

Carlos Mortensen
Carlos Mortensen wins the 2007 WPT Championship

A new page in the history books of poker was written late last night as Carlos Mortensen became the first person to have won both the WPT and the WSOP Championships. It was a marathon heads-up match that saw the Matador manipulating Kirk Morrison as a toreador would a bull.

Both players fought valiantly with chip stacks teeter-tottering outrageously. Truly a momentous match, it was decided by pivotal turn and river cards as well as Mortensen's dogged determination. When it was all over and the dust had settled with a little help from the customary Budweiser toast, I spoke with Carlos for a few short moments.

Carlos, we spoke yesterday and you told me how important this win was to you. Now that you've done it, how do you feel?

Carlos Mortensen

I feel great! I haven't let it sink in yet; I think I need a few days for it to really sink in. I really wanted to win; anything else than first place was going to be devastating to me.

That was a tough heads-up match with Kirk. You managed to fight your way back from a couple bad beats to take it down. What do you think of Kirk as a player?

Heads-Up

Kirk is a great player. He played really good the whole tournament, but when it got to heads-up, I think I had the edge. He knew I wasn't afraid to gamble, and so it was hard for him to raise before the flop. He knew I could just move in.

It seemed like Kirk was doing a lot of calling from the small blind and checking from the big blind. Do you think he played too tight for this heads-up match?

Well, I don't know. I think he didn't get too many cards, and he couldn't play back at me. But I think he is a great player. I am good with the cards though; I know the situations and I felt really comfortable. I tried as hard as I could to win.

Carlos Mortensen

You took a few bad beats during the match and it seemed like you never lost your focus or let it get to you. How are you able to keep that discipline when things aren't going your way?

Well, I felt comfortable in the match. I never lost my confidence.

How does it feel to be the only player to have won both the World Series of Poker Main Event and the WPT Championship?

The Money

It is amazing; it means a lot to me. This is $4 million, way more money than the World Series but that was still big. Both tournaments are perfect.

Okay Carlos, thanks a lot.

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A Spaniard, originally from Ecuador, Carlos is much more comfortable speaking in his native tongue. Unfortunately my Spanish is markedly worse than his English, resulting in Mortensen being a man of few words.

Carlos Mortensen

Despite struggling to put his feelings into words, his satisfaction and happiness were more than clear as we spoke. Having already enjoyed elite status among the best players in the world, Carlos has now proved himself to be at the apex of this community.

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Kirk Morrison, despite admitting to being outclassed in terms of experience, demonstrated that he has more than enough heart to make up for it. Kirk was a regular in the poker world some years ago before taking a near 10-year hiatus in New Zealand.

Kirk Morrison

Whatever he's been doing on his sabbatical seems to be paying dividends as he's cashed in the last four consecutive WPT events. This ties him for the all-time record of consecutive cashes with Daniel Negreanu at four, giving Kirk the chance to take the lead in a few weeks at the Mirage.

As verbose as Carlos is tight-lipped, Kirk is always fun to speak with. We sat down to exchange a few words before he went to collect his $2,011,135.

Kirk, congratulations, we were all pulling for you in this event. How do you feel at the moment?

Kirk Morrison

Man, I'm over the moon, I really am. I probably won't sleep for a week. But no, I'm really worn out after this week. I feel great though.

So you're not looking at this as any sort of a loss?

Are you kidding me? No, not at all. I'm really happy with how it went.

We first met in Reno at the World Poker Challenge where you just missed the final table, and you've cashed at every event since then. Did you bring that confidence with you into this tournament?

Definitely, I've been running so great lately; I felt really good in this event. I really think I can keep it up and cash in … maybe 10 consecutive? (Laughs.) That sounded cocky, but I'm feeling really good.

Tell us about the heads-up match.

Oh man, that was crazy. Carlos is a really great player. It was too bad that the blinds went up so fast there at the end but it might have been for the best. We could have gone at it all night without either of us giving an inch. Carlos is one of the best players in the world and he definitely has the edge in experience, but I'm happy with the way I played. With the blinds so high it could have gone either way.

You've been in New Zealand for quite a while, are you back here on the circuit for good again?

Kirk Morrison

I don't know. I'm back and my game's better than it's ever been, but I could just as easily take off again and not come back for like five years. I'm getting ready for the next WPT event at Mirage, and I'm going to be around for a while, but I love it in New Zealand; you never know.

What have you been doing all these years?

Walking my dog on the beach; that pretty much sums it up.

Awesome, thanks a lot Kirk and congratulations again.

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A calculating player, Kirk's measured pace at the table contrasts his outgoing personality. Last night we saw that Kirk is not only able to make it deep in these events consistently, he also has what it takes to take them down. We'll be following Kirk closely at the first event of Season 6 of the World Poker Tour at the end of next month and you can too by logging on to PokerListings.com.

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