Joel Smith won the Free Poker Network (FPN) bracelet and $11,500 as the FPN Chasin' Bracelets National Championship came to an end. It is his second FPN bracelet since winning the first one in 2015.
The poker pro defeated 224 opponents and beat Greg Larson in a heads-up battle. He had a deep run last weekend and finished fourth with Nikki, his wife in the Tag Team Championship. Each top 20 finalist in the tournament won at least $1,500 with Brett Zimmerman finishing third.
Brad Craig and Lester Hauglid were also among the top five players. Smith stated in an interview after the tournament that it was surreal and he lacked words to say.
He drew early at the table, a situation that he has found himself in several times in the past. Smith had a 3:1 disadvantage in heads-up action but made an impressive comeback as a better kicker helped him gain the chip lead.
The pro often plays in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) events but his $11,500 Main Event top prize is unique. He stated that he often plays different events such as the Colossus each summer.
The Final Table's Results
- Joel Smith from Minnesota-$11,500
- Greg Larson from Minnesota-$1,500
- Brett Zimmerman from Illinois-$1,500
- Lester Hauglid from Minnesota-$1,500
- Brad Craig from North Dakota-$1,500
- Kevin Spain from Illinois-$1,500
- David Kalet from Nebraska-$1,500
- Craig Ashley from Illinois-$1,500
- Ed Cavaciuti from Delaware-$1,500
The tournament attracts skilled players from different states who win seats in online and local events. Besides, some of them qualify through drawings and instant win chances.
Those who failed to qualify had an opportunity to visit Las Vegas and play four qualifiers that took place on the weekend. Players who failed to reach the final table included Russ Neil, Adam Sabatka, Maya Cuccaro, John Aduana, Nels Peterson, Andy Lagarde, Larry Sundberg, Lori Salmon, Boyd Brandsrud, Al Reese, and Ken Beach.
Action at the Final Table
Zimmerman advanced to the final table with more than 1,000,000 chips and Larson followed him closely. Ed Cavaciuti got busted first after using two callers to move all-in and David Kalet's pair of pocket kings beat him.
Craig Ashley finished eighth after using the best hand to go in but a full house appeared from the board for Larson. Kalet used ace-jack to move in against Smith's suited ace-eight in the next hand. Yet, Smith sent Kalet packing in seventh place after landing an eight on the river.
Kevin Spain used a pair of pocket tens to shove after a brief break. But, two callers checked it and Larson got a pair of kings that ended Spain's run in sixth place.
No one got busted in almost two levels until Craig used a suited nine-seven to shove and Larson eliminated him in the fifth position with queen-ten. Hauglid followed him in fourth place after using a suited ace-five to go in but Larson busted him using Big Slick.
Hauglid's elimination set up a three-handed play that lasted for a while until Zimmerman used a small stack to commit to the pot. Smith busted him after flopping a flush.
Larson had a huge chip lead over Smith. Yet, the latter made a comeback using the better kicker after they flopped a pair. Larson ended his run when he used mid-pair to shove as Smith busted him using the top pair of queens.