Davidi Kitai was crowned the 2011 WPT Celebrity Invitational champion this week as he defeated his five final table opponents to earn a respectable victory against some top quality opposition. He took an impressive $100,000 along with the bragging rights for the next 12 months.
His rival competitors at the final table included chess professionals Dinara Khaziyeva and Almira Skripchenko, fellow WSOP bracelet winner Dan Heimiller and two other poker professionals who hail from Los Angeles in the form of Damon Schramm and George Rechnitzer. It wasn’t long before Khaziyeva and Schramm exited the game with a whimper. Skripchenko eliminated Rechnitzer with her King and 6 beating his Ace and Queen. Heimiller followed in the path of Rechnitzer to set up the heads up between Skripchenko and Kitai.
Kitai was a firm favourite going into the heads up with a 2:1 ratio of chips against Skripchenko. The fact her forte was chess added the odds in his favor. However, the understated chess champion fought her corner and gave as well as she got. It was tough to even tell who the poker professional was and who the chess champion was!
Finally, after both individuals stealing the lead throughout the heads up, Kitai hit the win he craved with his Queen and 3 beating Skripchenko’s Ace and 2. It was a case of so near yet so far for Skripchenko who had surprised many just by reaching the final table. However, her play on the final day showed that there was more to this subtle character than meets the eye and underneath the quiet exterior there was a fire breathing poker tyrant who wasn’t going to be pushed over by anyone.
Davidi Kitai can now add the WPT Celebrity Invitational to his World Series of Poker bracelet that he won back in 2008. He also has the perk of winning a $25,000 seat in the WPT Championship at the end of this season. He is a man with a huge smile on his face right now and it is easy to see why. This was a harder final table than anyone could have seen but in a twist of fate, the real challenge came from the most unlikely source. Never judge a book by its cover.