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Jeff Forrest wins WPT event at Foxwoods

3 November 2010

MASHANTUCKET, Connecticut -- If you like your poker to be filled with suck-outs and overwhelming favorites losing to inferior hands, the World Poker Finals Main Event final table at Foxwoods was your cup of tea.

After a night (and morning) filled with bad beats and see-saw chip leads, 22-year-old Orlando resident Jeffrey Forrest defeated family man Dave Inselberg to win $548,752 and his first major poker title. This was Forrest's first WPT event.

"My plan coming in was to play a really aggressive style and try to play a lot of small pots and try to take down as many as I could," he said. "I had Tom (Marchese) to my left and he had a massive stack so I had to be really careful. It was crazy."

Inselberg qualified for the tournament through a $250 satellite. He busted in second place when his top pair and gut-shot straight draw lost to Forrest's pocket queens.

"It's an emotional day," he said. "I tried my best. I had top pair and I had my gut-shot. Jeff had queens and all the credit to (him) and all props to (him). He's a great player. The only thing that could have made me happier was the (title) but the money makes so much of a difference in my life."

Inselberg said second place was just like first place for him, because of the money. Second place paid $325,608. He also said he was glad to see his family afterwards.

There were chants of "cold stone" during any pot Inselberg won late in the tournament, and he had a very vocal cheering section. He thanked that cheering section after his elimination "for sticking around all night" for him.

For his part, Forrest had former 'N Sync member Joey Fatone sweating him in the crowd. Fatone is friends with Forrest and hosts a show at Foxwoods.

This was a final table that will be remembered for its massive swings. Pocket threes beating pocket fours? Check. A-K losing to A-J? A-J chopping with A-6? Check. A-2 beating A-Q? Check. How about A-K losing to K-6? You got it.

"This is going to be really good TV," WPT commentator Mike Sexton said during a break late in the action. The episode is expected to air next March.

Getting to that good TV wasn't easy, however, as there were long stretches of time where there was little to no action — especially when play became three-handed as few hands reached the flop.

Thomas "kingsofcards" Marchese looked to have the tournament firmly under control during the first few levels. The New Jersey-resident was the chip leader by over a million heading into final table play. He was the most accomplished player at the table and was able to chip up by pushing his massive chip stack around. Before you knew it, he had over 4 million chips while Forrest and Inselberg had less than 1.8 million.

As was the norm in this tournament, however, a bad beat busted him out. Marchese moved all-in with Ac-Ks and was called by Forrest's Ks-6c. Marchese had Forrest dominated and it looked like a double up was in the bag. However, a six hit on the flop and all Marchese could do was yell "Jesus!" His finished in third place and took home $211,759.

The NAPT Venetian champion was all smiles after his bust-out, despite the bad beat.

"I think I played really good," he said. "I guess I'll just be playing until the end of the year and try to win 'Card Player of the Year.'"

As Marchese left the ballroom, a member of his entourage summed up the entire scenario by simply saying "that was ridiculous."

The World Poker Finals is the 188th episode of the World Poker Tour. The made-for-TV aspect of this tournament was especially notable. The introduction to the final table was shot right before cards were dealt, with WPT host Kimberly Lansing taping three takes. Four "Royal Flush" girls were taped in front of the trophy and cash prize, and brought out the cash prize when play reached heads-up.

Sexton and fellow WPT commentator Vince Van Patten were also seated right near the table and their commentary could be heard during major hands. And the TV crew had to replace their videotape multiple times, which also led to a number of stoppages in play.

However, unlike World Series of Poker and North American Poker Tour events, there weren't TV screens that had a running time for levels. There was no rhyme or reason for breaks. And those breaks often went much longer than the time announced.

The table (and the lethargic crowd) got a shot in the arm during three-handed play when Forrest moved all-in from the small blind and Marchese made a call. Forrest showed 4c-4s while Marchese showed Ac-Ks. The fans suddenly woke up and started chanting for cards. Forrest became a huge favorite on the flop when he hit a set of fours. He held off Marchese and kept his championship hopes alive.

The crowd got another shot in the arm a few hands later when Inselberg moved all-in and was called by Forrest. Both showed pocket jacks. However, there were three hearts on the board after the turn, with Inselberg holding the Jh. A spade hit on the river, however, and the two chopped the pot.

Marchese's brutal run continued the very next hand when he called an all-in from Inselberg. Marchese showed Ah-Ks and dominated Inselberg's As-9s. But, you guessed it, a nine hit on the flop and all of a sudden Inselberg was the chip leader.

"I don't deserve it," he said after winning the pot.

Visibly drained, Marchese now had to switch gears as he no longer had his massive chip advantage. And his tournament looked to be over 45 minutes after his brutal beat. He was all-in with pocket threes against Forrest's pocket fours. However, he was able to catch a four-card flush on the river to survive.

However, his stack was crippled when his Ah-6h lost to Forrest's As-9d as Tuesday moved into Wednesday. He went all-in three hands later with his Qd-10c behind Forrest's Ks-5d. Of course, Marchese hit a queen on the turn to survive.

Dominating hands continued to lose out to weaker hands on the following pot, as Marchese's Kc-9s chopped with Forrest's Kd-8s. A jack hit on the river to complete a king-high straight for both players.

Each of the final three players held the chip lead at one point during three-handed play.

Nikolai "Googles" Yakovenko, who finished in fourth place, said he tried to stay away from Marchese's major chip advantage.

"I'm not trying to build chips against Tom," he said. "I'm trying to build against the guys who have smaller stacks."

Yakovenko was busted when he moved all-in on a flop of Kc-8s-7s. Forrest instantly called with Ks-8c for two pair while Yakovenko showed pocket aces. The Brooklyn native didn't improve and was eliminated in fourth place ($170,773).

"When I put it in and he called I thought he had me beat," said Yakovenko after his elimination. "I really did. In fact my words were 'What, you flopped a set?' I expected to be losing."

There were no bust outs during level 23 and Marchese won the first three pots of level 24, using his sizable chip stack to his advantage. Play was tight, which didn't surprise Yakovenko.

"It wasn't really a bunch of people who liked to gamble big," he said. "They were playing very cautiously and I tried to take advantage of it. I stole a lot of pots."

There were a lot of all-in shoves during early play, but the few that made the flop did not knock anyone out. Yakovenko, Stammen and Inselberg were all short-stacked and were able to steal a number of blinds and antes when each made all-in moves.

Yakovenko's tournament life was on the line late in an early level, as he called an all-in from Charania. He showed a look of disgust as Charania showed As-Qc, which dominated his Ac-2d. However, as was common in this event, the dominant hand would not hold up Yakovenko hit a deuce on the turn to stay alive.

The first hand in level 26 had Keven Stammen go all-in against Forrest. Forrest had him covered by only 5,000 chips. Forrest turned over Ad-Qd while Stammen showed Ah-10h. A cry of "10 of heaaarts" from the crowd playfully mocked the announcer's thick Boston accent.

Forrest knocked out Stammen after hitting a queen on the turn and the river, and Stammen was left with a fifth place finish and a prize of $128,650.

Mohsin Charania was the first player eliminated about two hours into play after being severely crippled in an all-in the previous hand when his pockets sevens fell to Stammen's pocket eights. He lost the very next hand to Marchese and walked away with the sixth place prize of $104,741, the biggest cash of his career.
Jeff Forrest wins WPT event at Foxwoods is republished from