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Former November Niner Jarvis claims first WSOP title

27 June 2011

How does anyone top making the World Series of Poker November Nine?

That’s an easy answer for any serious poker player. How about returning the following year to the WSOP, and winning a gold bracelet.

Today, Matt Jarvis did exactly that. Seven months after his uber-impressive eighth-place finish in the 2010 WSOP Main Event Championship, he returned to the arena of his former glory and heartache and ended up winning his first WSOP title.

Jarvis won the $5,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em championship, held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Jarvis overcame a brutally-tough field totaling 732 players. More of a challenge perhaps than the sheer volume of runners, was the fact that this was as stacked a field as has ever been assembled for any live six-handed competition. Indeed, the best online poker players in the world mingled amongst a few hundred world-class touring pros creating a gauntlet for any aspiring champion. After three long days and nights, plus an unscheduled fourth-day afternoon, Jarvis alone proved up to the challenge.

Matt Jarvis is a 27-year-old poker pro from Vancouver, B.C. He won $1,045,743 by outlasting 7,311 players in last year’s championship. Jarvis added a whopping $808,538 to his bankroll for this victory, which was one of the biggest cash prizes of the year so far at this year’s WSOP. Jarvis now has more than $1.8 million in winnings over the past two years, which places him among the top ten performers in that category.

"It’s been a really crazy year," said Jarvis. "I did win two (live) tournaments. I also won a major tournament online. It’s been a really good year for me, so far. I just hope it keeps going.”

Jarvis becomes the fifth Canadian poker champion so far at the 2011 WSOP. In fact, the last four gold bracelet events have all been won by non-Americans. Players from Russia, France, Ukraine and Canada have won the last four tournaments in succession.

Speaking of Canadian poker champions, last year’s Main Event winner didn’t fare too badly, either. Jonathan Duhamel, the reigning world poker champion from Montreal, finished in 15th place. Four-time gold bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu, originally from Toronto, also went deep, finishing in 20th place.

“There are so many great players coming out of Canada, especially in Vancouver," said Jarvis. "It’s amazing to be part of that group that is doing so well here this year.”

Prior to winning this event, Jarvis was zero for ten in cashes at the 2011 WSOP. Jarvis had an incredible story prior to last year’s WSOP Main Event. He was planning to come and play. But a few months prior to the tournament, his father was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment. Jarvis was prepared to skip playing at the WSOP. But instead, his father talked him into coming to Las Vegas and encouraged him to go ahead and play. The rest, as they say, is history. Jarvis’ father remains in good health today.

“He’s doing really well," said Jarvis. "I actually just got off the phone with him a few minutes before we started back. I heard from (someone else) that he had tears in his eyes. He’s really good. He’s doing much better now in his recovery. I am really proud of him for the effort he’s put into everything.”

The runner up was Justin Filtz, from Stevens Point, Wisc. He is a 24-year-old poker pro who was making his second top-three finish at the WSOP. Filtz previously finished third in an event at the 2008 WSOP. He collected $499,855 for second place.

The final duel was a real test for both players. The see-saw battle lasted four hours in real time. In fact, play was interrupted at the end of Day Three, requiring an extra day of action. Both players had the chip lead at various times and had their respective opponents all in and drawing for help. Filtz was ahead by 3 to 1 in chips at one point. But he could not deliver the final blow to his opponent. Jarvis had the chip lead a majority of the time, but it took all he had to ultimately defeat his final foe.

After play was suspended after the third day of play, the two heads-up finalists returned for an unscheduled day four. The last day lasted only six minutes. Jarvis had a 4-to-1 chip lead and won the last hand with ace high (A-8 versus K-9 all in pre-flop).

Wesley Pantling, from Marina Del Rey, Calif., was third for $317,136, Robert Merulla, from New York, N.Y., was fourth for $208,281, Tore Lukashaugen of Norway was fifth for $141,125, and Matthew Vengrin, from Henderson, Nev., was sixth.

The top 78 finishers collected prize money. Former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this tournament were the following: Duhamel (15th), Negreanu (20th), David Singer (29th), Phil Hellmuth (36th), Kevin Song (50th), Angel Guillen (54th), Daniel Alaei (58th), Lisa Hamilton (66th), Nenad Medic (72nd) and Jason DeWitt (78th).

Hellmuth's 36th-place finish marks his 82nd time to cash at the WSOP. He continues to separate himself from the pack and is now ten cashes ahead of second-ranked player Men “the Master” Nguyen. He also took back the lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race.

Tournament summary provided by Nolan Dalla, WSOP Media Director, reprinted by permission.

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