12/21/09 – The past few days have seen some of the world's top poker pros mixing it up in the World Poker Tour Five-Diamond Doyle Brunson World Poker Classic at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, which culminated in a final table Saturday and a major win for Los Angeles professional Daniel Alaei.
In a final table crammed full of respected names, two of them former WPT champs, the 26-year-old Alaei managed to prevail to a final heads up against Josh Arieh and emerge victorious. The reward was considerable – a main prize of $ 1 428 430, a WPT bracelet and a $25 000 seat at the WPT Championships and a Rolex from the Bellagio.
The rail was packed for much of the final table action as Alaei fought off skilled and determined play from Faraz Jaka – in the chip lead by almost half a million chips at the start of play; Scotty Nguyen as Jaka's nearest rival; Shawn Buchanan; Steve O'Dwyer and Josh Arieh.
Rather cautious play went on for some 47 hands before the first elimination, Steve O’Dwyer, was taken out by Scotty Nguyen ($202 362). Nguyen's jubiliation was short-lived for he was the next to go, picking up a fifth place paycheck $249 976 after a clash with Arieh and Jaka.
Alaei took out Shawn Buchanan in fourth spot for 333 302, and the heads up was decided when third place went to Faraz Jaka, eliminated by Alaei and collecting a prize of $571 374.
Heads up and 122 hands into the game it was an Arieh vs. Alaei confrontation, with Arieh holding a 2 to 1 chip advantage, which Alaei soon overcame in a spectacular double up that turned the tables and left Alaei’s stack with 14.6 million and took Arieh down to 5.13 million.
Despite a heroic attempt to fight the game back, Arieh was ultimately taken out by Alaei not long after and had to be content with the second prize of $952 290.
The win was Alaei's biggest yet, taking his career earnings into the $4 million dollar range from 44 major tournament cashes, 5 wins and 2 WSOP bracelets. His previous highest cashout was for $445 888 in this year's 40th WSOP, where he won the WSOP Omaha Hi/Lo World Championship. And that total does not include winnings on high stakes cash games!
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