Tiny Turnout for WPT Alpha8 Johannesburg Event; Won by Daniel CatesMonday, February 17th, 2014 by Ryan
When you read a headline about a poker tournament for the World Poker Tour having a small turnout, you probably think something in the low hundreds, or maybe even a little below a hundred. When we say that there was a “tiny” turnout for the World Poker Tour’s Alpha8 event in Johannesburg, South Africa, we mean really tiny. Just nine players showed up to play in the event at the Emperors Palace Hotel Casino in Johannesberg.
Up to this point, we’ve seen the World Poker Tour’s Alpha8 events have pretty solid fields, but this one was definitely a major disappointment in terms of numbers. Now, even though the number was just nine players buying in, we saw some huge names buy-in to the event. The nine players who showed up for the action included the eventual winner in Daniel Cates, runner-up Kinesh Pather, Phil Ivey, Jason Mercier, Erik Seidel, Antonio Esfandiari, Max Altergott, Philipp Gruissem, and Jeff Gross.
On the first day of the action we saw both Ivey and Esfandiari get eliminated, but Esfandiari decided that he was going to get it another run, and therefore decided that he was going to buy back in and he came back on the final day of action to play. The action started back up on Saturday, and Cates was leading the way at that point with over 300k in chips at 317,000. Pather had some work to do to catch up with 204,500 chips, and then came Mercier with 175k, Gross with 114,500, Esfandiari with 102k, Gruissem with 62k, and Seidel as the short stack with 25,500.
With only nine players buying into the event, it meant that just three players were going to walk away with money. Third place was going to take home $200k, second place would get $275k, and first place would take home $500k. Obviously still nice payouts for whoever was able to cash in this event. It took two hands for things to change, as Pather made a raise, and Esfandiari called. The flop came with Qh, Jd, 7h, and Esfandiari checked-raised Pather. Pather then moved over the top all-in, and Esfandiari made the quick call with K-6 of hearts for a flush draw. Pather showed Q-J for two pair. His two pair obviously held up (he was the runner-up of course), which meant that he moved ahead of Cates into first place, and Esfandiari was out. A bit after that we saw Seidel get a double up through Gruissem, who was knocked out soon after that to be the next player gone.
Just after that though, Seidel couldn’t continue the comeback, as he was eliminated in fifth place by Cates when his pocket sevens couldn’t improve against the tens of Cates. We were on the money bubble at this point, and it took a very, very long time to decide which three would make the money. In total we saw 136 hands played between these four players, and Cates just continued building his stack during this time frame. He ended up have more than twice as many chips as the other three men had put together, and Cates was the one who brought the knockout punch in the end, and it was Gross who was the unfortunate bubble boy. Cates min-raised, and then Gross moved all-in pre-flop. Cates thought about it for a bit, and then made the call with his pocket eights in the lead against the A-8 off suit of Gross. The board came down Q-10-5 rainbow, but a turn of a Jack helped Gross out a little bit. He couldn’t improve though, as a three came on the river and left Gross heading home in fourth place, but also pushing even more chips towards Cates.
Now, for the three handed match-up, we saw Cates holding 783k in chips, while Mercier had 114k, and Pather had 104k. Pather got a bit lucky to double up after the dinner break against Mercier, and then Cates knocked Mercier out after that in third place. Cates now had more than 5x as many chips as Pather had, and it took ten hands to see him take down the championship and eliminate Kinesh Pather. Daniel Cates won the title, and the $500k first place pay day to go along with it.