Few storylines resonate more than those that involve redemption. Last night, the $10,000 Wynn Classic in Las Vegas was the setting for a redemption tale a year in the making, complete with an antagonist and a series of crucial battles before the decisive victory.
In the starring role was Chris Moore, who finished in third place at the 2007 Wynn Classic. The online cash game player from Illinois got his money in with two pair last year against eventual champion Zachary Hyman's pair and straight draw. The river brought an ace to send Moore home without the title.
Apparently that stuck in his craw.
Moore emerged victorious at the Wynn this year, but his path was a difficult one. He entered the final table in third place, trailing Larry Wright and chip leader Ryan Young.
The latter won one of six $1,500 NLHE bracelets up for grabs at last year's WSOP after coming in with the chip lead and employing solid, well-timed aggression to stay ahead of the pack. Moore would need to rock the same kind of game if he wanted to avenge his loss the year before.
Chris Moore Emerges Victorious
Moore doubled up short stack Jace Markgraf just before the end of the day's first level, losing a race with A-K to Markgraf's TT. Markgraf then scored the first scalp of the day, sending professional poker player Eugene Todd out in ninth place with QQ to Todd's TT.
Young continued to build his lead by picking up orphan pots and showing down strong hands, until Moore changed the tenor of the proceedings altogether. With a pot the size of the average stack in the middle of the table and the board reading T♦ T♠ 9♦ 5♠ J♣, Young checked and Moore wasted no time moving all-in.
The bracelet winner went in the tank and eventually mucked; Moore sent a statement to both his opponent and the table when he flipped up Q-3 for the stone cold bluff and scooped his way into the position of the chip leader.
The rest of Level 17 consisted of big pots featuring Ryan Young as he scrambled to get back ahead of the pack. He doubled up Ardavan Yazdi when his jacks failed to hold up, doubled back up into contention with AA against QQ, and doubled Markgraf's stack with K-9 against Markgraf's A-J.
Despite all the action there were no knockouts until the middle of Level 18, when freeroll winner Alemu Tesema moved his three-big-blind stack in with J-9 and fell in eighth place to Blake Cahail's T-3.
Ryan Young's roller-coaster ride continued in that level with a lucky break. Ricky Chow got his money in good with JJ to Young's TT, but the ten on the flop left Chow with seventh-place money.
Young then came out on top of a pre-flop raising war against Moore, narrowing his chip lead some and setting the stage for later confrontations.
Larry Wright was next to go in Level 18. Despite coming into the day second in chips, Wright was inactive at the table and found himself short-stacked and surrounded by aggressive players. He got in on the wrong end of a coin flip with K-Q to Cahail's 8-8, finishing in sixth place when he failed to improve. Wright's elimination closed out the level.
The tournament's 19th level began with a bang. The $10,000/$20,000 blinds and $2,000 antes built an enticing pot on every hand. Markgraf lost his tournament life in an attempt to steal, open-shoving with Q-8 and being called down by Young's K-Q to finish in fifth place. Then Yazdi tried to pick up the pot pre-flop with 3-3; he ran into Cahail's QQ to wind up taking fourth place.
Down to the final three, Moore found himself in a different position than he had the previous year. He held a solid chip lead over Young and Cahail, and even more importantly he had position on the aggressive Young. His situation improved further when Cahail missed a chance to bluff and Moore took down a substantial heads-up pot from him with just jack-high.
When play became heads-up, though, it was Young who held the chip lead after doing the dirty work of eliminating Cahail in third place with JJ against Q-T. The $472,000 difference in chips wouldn't last long, though.
Just a few hands into heads-up play, Young fell victim to the designs of fate. Pokerlistings.com's veteran tournament reporter Matthew Showell described the hand:
"In one of the first hands of heads-up play Ryan Young has been crippled in a rough setup of a hand. Young opened from the button to $50,000 and Moore made the call from the big blind. The flop came down J♠ 8♦ 5♠ and Moore checked. Young bet out $100,000 and Moore check-raised to $400k.
"Young then moved all-in and Moore snap-called, laying J♦ 5♦ down on the felt. Young was behind with A♥ J♥ for top pair, top kicker, and would need a lot of help to win the hand. The board finished out with no help whatsoever for Young and Moore is good for the double. He's now in a commanding position with $3.2 million to Young's $500,000."
Moore never let his foot off the gas after the big swing in momentum, finishing Young off with KK against A-5 for the win.
In the end the chips fell as follows:
You can relive all the magic of Chris Moore's redemption song, from Day 1 to the final table, in Matthew Showell's updates in our Live Tournaments section.