The North American Poker Tour came to the Crystal Casino in Los Angeles this week and it was the Bounty Shootout that took a lot of the interest. It was also a tournament where one prolific professional, Eric Baldwin, took his opportunity to seize the glory, even if it meant eliminating his good friend in the process.
81 participants began the Shootout and at a $5,000 buy-in it was all about the money. It wasn’t until 11 hours had passed that we had our winner. Eric Baldwin showed stamina, grit and determination to see off his opponents in what was a dogged display of poker. He reached a heads up where he defeated his long time pal Justin Young to take away the first prize of $134,280 plus bounties exceeding $20,000.
The final table was always going to be a tough task with so many established names being involved. Michael Mizrachi was the stand out name that was fresh from his November Nine journey. NAPT Champion Tom Marchese was also someone who had proven credibility on the tour. Team PokerStars Pros David Williams and Pat Pezzin were there because they knew the game inside out. There was also an EPT champion in Kevin MacPhee. Then there were the seasoned online players in the form of Mohsin Charania and Clint Coffee. Anyone was capable of winning.
It was a ding dong battle with Baldwin and Mizrachi exchanging blows from the start. No big wins or losses but each player was determined to squeeze as much as they could from each pot. As the game started to slow down, MacPhee thought this was his time to strike with some more aggressive pre-flop raising. Coffee soon realized this was MacPhee’s tactic but unfortunately caught MacPhee with AK compared to Coffee’s K7. However, in a bitter twist of fate, Coffee hit a 7 on the flop and MacPhee was the first to go.
Mizrachi was the next to go. In a game that saw him become the little fish in this big pond he found himself needing to up his aggression. Initially, it worked as he doubled up via Pat Pezzin. He then went a step too far and tried taking on Justin Young with a pair of 5s. Young had a pair of 10s and sent Mizrachi out of contention. Pezzin soon followed having been mortally wounded by Mizrachi. He had AK against Charania but Charania had a pair of 6s. He failed to hit and Chanaria won.
The next victim was Clint Coffee. He had a pair of 7s but this was Justin Young he was up against… who, unbelievably, showed a pair of 10s again. Coffee couldn’t recover and he was finished by the same hand that had wiped ‘the Grinder’ Mizrachi. Tom Marchese was then the victim of his own inadequacy as he fell to a flush against Williams, despite entering the flop ahead. He’s had a fantastic year though so he can look past this premature exit.
Charania then fell victim to those cursed pair of 10s which this time found their way into the hands of David Williams. It had been a great tournament for Charania which had seen him take a fair few bounties over the two days. Poetic justice then returned to haunt Williams as the pair of 10s then returned to the hand of their master, Justin Young. Williams had been hoisted by his own petard and it was now a heads up between two good friends.
As the match swayed from side to side the match came to a Hollywood style finale. Both players called all in pre-flop. Young turned over an AQ. However, Baldwin had hit a KK! The flop, turn and river drew dead for Young and Baldwin became the new NAPT Los Angeles Shootout champion. It had been a dramatic tournament which was remembered for its banter and humor as much as its action and tales. In the end though, it was the man from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin who prevailed as the winner.