$2500 + $200 Double Play NL Championship
Solid play over three days and a pivotal hand at the final table is how Russell Crane (Howell, NJ) won the Borgata Spring Poker Open Championship. Crane outlasted the other 24 players who returned for the Day 3 finale and navigated his way through a final table that featured 7 full time professional players.
"It hasn't hit me yet," says Crane, the six year poker pro who takes home a career best $276,949 for first place. "It felt great to have a lot of people from my home state supporting me."
It only took two hands of heads-up play for Crane to defeat Adam Cook (Glen Burnie, MD) for the title when Crane's Q♣ Q♦ bested Cook's 9♣ 9♥. "I didn't want to play a huge pot," says Cook who took home $159,866 and began the hand at a 2 to 1 chip deficit, "but two 9s heads-up is a good hand and I just got it in."
Cook trailed in chips heads up, 9.3 million to 4.1 million, because Crane won a 6.5 million chip pot against Jason Deutsch (Staten Island, NY) 5 handed. Deutsch moved all in with a pair of 7s and a flush draw and Crane called the final 2 million chip bet on the turn with 10♦ 10♠. When Cook missed the river Crane's pair of 10s was enough to take a commanding chip lead.
Deutsch was crippled and knocked out a few hands later in 5th place ($61,787), which set the stage for Crane's final push for the title. Crane made quick work of David Stefanski (East Lyme, CT) 4th/$78,588 and Alex Bolotin (Brooklyn, NY) 3rd/$97,558 to set the stage for one last quick elimination.
When the day began Ryan Eriquezzo (Danbury, CT) was the leader with nearly one million chips, but in less than two hours was knocked out 24th when he ran pocket 9s into the pocket kings of Matt Matros (Brooklyn, NY). Matros, a pro with $1.5 million in career earnings, used the chips to make the final table and wound up 9th/$31,435.
Other notable pros who cashed on Day 3 included Billy Gazes (Miami Beach, FL) 19th/$6,721 and Matt Glantz (Lafayette Hill, PA) 11th/$14,092.
When the final table returned from dinner break, players were eliminated on three of the first four hands including Salah Siraj (New York, NY) 8th/$31,435, Matt Matros, and Aaron Overton (Philadelphia, PA) 10th/$14,092.
Joining Siraj at the final table as the only amateurs were Adam Levitan (Philadelphia, PA) 6th/$51,489 and Bart Dowling (New York, NY) 7th/$41,191, as the top six spots all went to the pros.
The tournament began with 447 entries chasing the total buy-in of $1,117,500, which was more than double the $500,000 guaranteed prize pool. The field featured the recognizable names of Kathy Liebert, Maria Ho, Josh Brikis, Jason Young, Lee Childs and "Hollywood" Dave Stann.
Defending champion Alex Queen (Bethlehem, PA) was in the mix to cash again, but was knocked out in 47th place, two from the money. Notables who did cash included Eric Siegel, May Siu, Joanne Monteavaro, Mike Dentale and Will Jaffe.
But in the end it's Russell Crane who took home the top prize, his 2nd win of 2011, and pushed his career earnings in live tournament play to $650,00. He's a Borgata regular who finished 3rd in a Deep Stack event in 2008 ($65k).
"I love playing at Borgata, it's where I feel the most comfortable." he said while clutching the championship trophy