3 Minutes Read
Over the years, David ‘Chino’ Rheem’ has faced a lot of heat from the poker fraternity talking him down over the large debts he has taken from many people whom he allegedly hasn’t paid for years. So when the mighty poker player who has a number of big titles to his name packed his bags for the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), he had many eyes on him. With panache, the 38-year old from California not only decimated his competition in the $10,300 Main Event to win the marquee event but with this win he also collected his career`s fifth seven-figure score!
Rheem had an uphill climb in the event as he was just one of the many top pros in the 865-strong field. In heads-up play, Rheem defeated Daniel Strelitz before laying hands on the shining PokerStars Spade and his career`s second largest score of $1,567,100.
The US pro boasts of an illustrious poker resume dotted with prestigious titles and an incredible five million-plus scores, but with this win Rheem has entered an elite group of poker professionals with over $10 Million in lifetime winnings.
“It’s an honor,” Rheem said, after the win. “I’m very grateful to even have the opportunity to come here and play, and I’m blessed to be able to win it.”When asked about the recipe for his success, Rheem simply said, “Be Lucky!”
The tournament had two Indian challengers, Team PokerStars pro Aditya Agarwal and PSPC Platinum Pass winner Kavin Shah, in attendance. However, while Shah couldn’t advance past Day 1, Agarwal was eliminated short of the money on Day 2, ending Team India’s chances in the star-studded event.
As play resumed between the final six, action was a treat to watch. Rheem jovially chatted with his opponents and the players seemed to enjoy the play. “Things just went my way. Nature ran its course and obviously, it was fun,” Rheem added.
For Strelitz, a runner-up finish wasn’t so bad either, since he walked away with $951,480. While Rheem and Strelitz ended up with the biggest cashes in the event, the spotlight was undoubtedly on 67-year old Scott Wellenbach who is a Buddhist text transcriber from Halifax, Canada. Coming into the event, Wellenbach has announced that he’d be donating his winnings to charity, and the crowd favorite ended up snagging an impressive $671,240 from his third-place finish that will now be put to some charitable cause.
Wellenbach was hoping for better, though. “A real rollercoaster of emotions. Ups and downs and at the moment, I’m feeling a bit disappointed,” Wellenbach said after his elimination. “I did have some hopes for playing a little better. It’s a bit of a bittersweet moment.”
He did come around in a while. “Going into the tournament, if you would’ve said, ‘How’s third place?’ I would’ve said “unbelievably good.” I’m sure in a few days, it’ll sink in and I’ll be happy with the outcome. At the moment though, I feel like I could’ve played better. Certain things didn’t go my way as well. I gotta say I was extremely lucky I was getting certain cards in certain situations. So the fact that things went a little odd today, in no way balances the scale, I was very lucky, very fortunate. The poker gods were smiling, I’m sure.”
The money line was crossed on Day 2, with all 127 remaining players assured to min-cash for at least $17,620.
Some known names who made it in the money include Christoph Vogelsang (11th for $96,080), Day 3 chip leader Tommy Nguyen (13th for $86,000), Matthias Eibinger (14th for $77,620), high stake regular Matt Berkey (15th for $77,060), Joao Simao (16th for $69,220), Danny Tang (18th for $60,840), Indian-origin Rajesh Vohra (20th for $60,840), Team PokerStars pro Andre Akkari (24th for $44,060), Day 2 chip leader Pierre Calamusa (25th for $44,060), Maria Ho (29th for $38,180), Team PokerStars pro Randy Lew (43rd for $28,520), Anthony Zinno (46th for $28,520), Mike Leah (58th for $24,760), and Michael Gathy (75th for $20,980).
Mihai Manole (7th for $208,920) bubbled the final table, following which the remaining six finalists were asked to bag chips for the day.
Watch the 2019 PCA Main Event Final Table in action here:
Final Table Chip Counts
Final Table Recap
Action on the final table started with players trading blows one hand after the other. Pavel Veksler was seen taking an early lead and so was Daniel Strelitz.
USA`s Brian Altman was the first casualty on the final table after his raise for 200,000 with prompted big blind Rheem to 3-bet to 700,000 with . Altman moved all in for 3,200,000 and Rheem instantly called. The flop didn’t help Altman and though the turn saw him hit two-pair, Rheem was still in the lead. The river ended Altman’s run in sixth place.
Vicent Bosca had been patiently holding on to his short stack and soon won a three-way pot against Scott Wellenbach and Strelitz. His luck however soon ran out when he raised to 260,000 with the in the cutoff and Rheem defended from the big blind with . The flop came to give Rheem bottom pair and Bosca a gutshot and the nut flush draw. Rheem checked over to Bosca who bet 300,000. Rheem check-shoved and Bosca called for 1,535,000.
“We’re ahead,” Rheem joked, and Strelitz also made the call and the room erupted in groups cheering for their favorite player. Bosca needed but the turn and the river blanked out for him, resulting in his fifth-place elimination.
Rheem kept at it by eliminating Pavel Veksler next in fourth place. Rheem jammed from the small blind and Veksler moved all in from the big blind for 3,510,000.
“You’re ahead man,” Veksler said, and Rheem responded by saying, “Good luck!” before the two bumped fists. The board ran and just like that Veksler was eliminated in fourth place.
“Chino” went on a rampage then, forcing his opponents to fold big hands, as he kept picking up chips along the way. Soon Scott Wellenbach decided to stand up to Rheem when the latter led out for 270,000 in position and Wellenbach moved all in for 1,790,000. Rheem called to see a showdown.
The flop fell and Wellenbach surged ahead, but Rheem picked up a double gutshot straight draw on the turn. “Ace is still good,” said Rheem and he incredibly got there on the river that completed his jack-high straight. Having lost all his chips to Rheem, Wellenbach was eliminated in third place.
In the heads-up play between Daniel Strelitz and Rheem, the former continued making repeated attempts to gain command, but coming in as a 6:1 underdog Strelitz had little chance against a seasoned campaigner like Rheem. It was only a matter of time before the final hand was dealt that saw Strelitz open-shoving on the button with 3,590,000 and Rheem made the call instantly.
Strelitz was behind but still had two live cards. He found some outs on the flop but the on the turn and the on the river were the final nail in the coffin for him as Rheem was crowned as the latest PCA Main Event champion!
Final Table Results (USD)
Image & Content courtesy: PokerStars/PokerNews
Keep following PokerGuru for more updates from PCA 2019!