It was a late night finish in the $300 NLHE Semi-Turbo NLHE as part of the 2022 World Series of Poker International Circuit Caribbean stop on Sint Maarten. At almost 5 a.m. local time, Canada’s Alen Bakovic defeated Gaetan Balleur in heads-up duel to claim his first WSOP Circuit gold ring and the top prize of $9,500. The victory also comes with an entry into the season-ending Tournament of Champions at the 2022 WSOP in Las Vegas, for which all Circuit Ring champions and bracelet winners of the upcoming live poker spectacle of the year qualify.
The event showcased the very solid turnout of the stop on the friendly island so far as it drew 137 total entries, of which the top 15 finishers shared a portion of the $34,250 prize pool. Among those to cash but miss out on the final table were Karthik Ramakrishnan, former WSOPC Caribbean Main Event champion Cedric Adam, Hristo Bogdanov and Luis Gonzalez Zwanenburg. Bakovic entered the nine-handed final table with the lead and dominated the action throughout before Frenchman Balleur put up a fierce fight for the coveted WSOPC gold ring.
Once the field combined to the last table, the shorter stacks were already quite shallow which made the sudden elimination of Pierre Gue even more surprising. With 24 blinds, the Frenchman ran with pocket tens into the pocket kings of Bakovic, who leaped well ahead of the pack. The only opponent to fight back and put a dent into the Canadian’s stack once in a while was Jean-Claude Ben Moha, while everyone else was fighting for survival.
It was also Ben Moha who reduced the field further when his pocket nines prevailed against the eight-seven suited of Matt Buchanan on a king-high board. Konstantin Tourevski saw his bid for an deeper run in seventh place when five-suited were no match against the pocket sevens of Balleur. The 2019 WSOPC Caribbean ring event winner Ray Carter then doubled his severe short stack twice before Bakovic claimed all the chips back with ace-eight versus ace-seven suited.
Peter Hajszan and Sacha Mimouni were the next to fall, reducing the field to the final trio. Bakovic kept up with his relentless aggression and one of his open shoves with pocket sevens was called by Ben Moha with ace-jack suited. A seven on the flop gave Bakovic a set and he dodged the back door straight draw of the Frenchman to enter heads-up with a commanding lead. Almost immediately, the chips went in with Balleur at risk but his ace-queen got there against pocket fours to set the stage for lengthy battle.
The lead between Bakovic and Balleur changed back and forth from there on before the Canadian established a big lead once more. Ultimately, Balleur picked the wrong time to jam with ten-nine for 14 blinds as Bakovic snap-called with pocket aces. Despite an ace on the flop, Balleur picked up some miracle outs on the turn but had to settle for a consolation prize of $5,900 when his flush draw missed.
Bakovic became the second player from Canada to win a WSOPC gold ring during the ongoing festival and will have plenty of opportunities to double that tally in the days to come.
Final Table Result WSOPC Ring Event #5: $300 Semi-Turbo
|Place||Winner||Country||Prize (in USD)|
|3||Jean-Claude Ben Moha||France||$4,200|
|6||Ray Carter||United States||$1,750|
|7||Konstantin Tourevski||United States||$1,350|
|8||Matthew Buchanan||United States||$1,100|