It has taken 20 years but Ireland’s Andy Black finally captured a major title by winning the 2008 PartyPoker.com Premier League and the $250 000 first prize this week. The 42 year-old from Dublin burst into tears after defeating England’s Roland De Wolfe heads-up in the event that pits 12 of the world’s top pros against each other in a unique league format.
“It has taken 20 years to finally finish the job,” said Black, “it is a fantastic feeling. I’ve been in so many strong positions before and not ended up winning that sometimes I doubted whether I could actually get the first place. Everybody was waiting for me to blow up. I see this as a turning point – perhaps now I can convert my dominant positions in tournaments into victories.”
Black has earned millions of dollars over the years on the circuit but has a reputation as a choker bar none. His most notable cash was for $1.75 million for 5th place in the WSOP Main Event in 2005 after qualifying online at PartyPoker.com. There, Black went in as the favourite to win with the chip lead only to bust sooner than expected.
At the 2007 WSOP Main Event and 2008 Aussie Millions Main Event he was the chip leader after day one only to fall away. He had similar experiences at the EPT in Dublin last year, the 2006 Tournament of Champions at the WSOP, not to forget the 2007 Aussie Millions where he eventually finished third after dominating again.
Black quit poker between 1998-2003 and started practicing Buddhist techniques of meditation and working with the mind which he credits with improving his game. Until now, however, it hadn’t given him a first place!
"The [Party Poker Premier League] victory is particularly sweet as it was over eleven of the world’s top players,” he said.
Tony G was chip leader going into the final table after finishing top of the league. Second in chips was Black, followed by Russian sensation Alexander Kravchenko, “Flying Dutchman” Marcel Luske, Roland De Wolfe and then Annie Duke. Play started off fast with big bets and big pots but Duke was first to go after 49 hands. The much fancied Kravchenko raised pre-flop with seven and eight suited. Duke re-raised all-in with ace jack off suit with a seven on the river giving the Russian two pair and sealing her fate after a pair of queens came on the flop.
De Wolfe had a 3:2 chip lead going into the final showdown. The final hand saw Black limp in with pocket kings and De Wolfe check with queen six off suit. The flop came four of hearts, eight of spades and six of hearts and De Wolfe check raised all-in. Black instantly called and De Wolfe was drawing thin. The turn saw an eight of diamonds meaning that only a six on the river could save Roland. A two of hearts came and Black was haunted no more.
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