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2016 PPC Aruba World Championship
$2,400 NLHE Main Event (Re-Entry)

$500,000 Guarantee

November 4th-7th, 2016

Total Entries: 266
Total Prize Pool: $534,743 + $20,000 in PPC Aruba Packages = $554,743

Stephen Deutsch 2016 PPC Aruba World Championship Main Event Champion

Stephen Deutsch
2016 PPC Aruba World Championship Main Event Champion

Recap: (by Mark Hoke of “The Mark Hoke Show” on KSHP 1400 AM and

The anticipation was building all year long from the first event of Season 4 on New Year’s Day at Tampa Bay Downs going across North America with all roads leading to the PPC Aruba World Championship Main Event at the Hilton Aruba Resort.  And in a star-studded field of top professional players, PPC Main Event winners and all of the other 2016 qualifiers Stephen Deutsch’s star shone the brightest beating out the 266 entry field to claim the 2016 PPC Aruba World Championship Main Event title and simultaneously taking home the PPC Season 4 Player of the Year honors.

Day 1A saw a field loaded with incredible talent including some of the biggest names in poker not to mention many of the top players on the PPC Poker Tour.  James Sloat, Mike Taylor and Joan Sandoval all jumped out early and never looked back.  Sloat, who lead the PPC Season 4 Player of the Year standings headed into this series, put up the biggest chip count of the flight bagging 185,900 chips closely followed by Taylor at 185,300 and Sandoval at 174,600.  Danger was lurking for the field as almost all of the top pros who took to the felt advanced including Christian Harder (136,400), Jose Montes (119,700), Alex Rocha (106,300), Mike Leah (89,100), Shawn Rice (85,100), Mukul Pahuja (58,300) and Ryan Van Sanford (52,300).  PPC standouts Stephen Deutsch (113,100), PPC Season 3 Player of the Year John Ott (105,200), Mike Beattie (67,000), Bill McKown (34,100), defending PPC Main Event champion Vincent Fiorenza (28,000) and Elliot Zaydman (24,000) all found their way to Day 2 to open things up setting the stage for the next starting flight and Day 2.

Day 1B saw a Venenzuelan make a short trip from his native country to invade Aruba and take the chip lead for the flight.  Dorian Rios found his way to the top of the chip counts putting away 198,000 chips to take the overall lead in the Main Event.  Rios was followed by Maryland Live! Casino’s William Beer with 153,400 chips and Ron Blasczyk with 142,500.  Just behind them was WSOP Circuit ring winner Dale Jones with 142,000 and Tim Brice with 126,300.  PPC Poker Tour Ambassador Ronnie Bardah escaped to Day 2 along with Evan Teitelbaum as both bagged 78,100 and Steve Karp put away 74,300.  Other familiar faces on the PPC Poker Tour surviving the flight included Shawn Barnett (90,600), Sam Rashid (86,500), Steve Trizis (48,500), Steven “Mondo” Fuhrman (41,700), 2014 PPC Main Event Arisoteles Neto (37,000), Michael LeMay (32,100), Gene Gauthier (22,300) and Ed VanLandingham (21,700)

Overall, the Main Event pulled in 266 entries in the two flights easily surpassing the $500,000 guarantee. 100 players would be back in action for Day 2 to resume the chase for the $133,687 top prize plus the four 2017 PPC Aruba Packages that were up for grabs.  With so many outstanding players returning, it promised to be an incredible Day 2 and it certainly did not disappoint.

Early on, Vincent Fiorenza was eliminated meaning that we would have a new champion here in 2016.  While Fiorenza was falling Dorian Rios, William Beer and Joan Sandoval were continuing to soar.  Jim Beadnell made his big move with a double-elimination of 2014 Champion Arisoteles Neto and Freddie Kirkland.  With five tables to go, a “table of death” developed with Rios, Alex Rocha, Ryan Van Sandford, Mike Beattie, Sam Rashid and William Beer.  That table turned out to be key in the tournament where many players came and fell and the chips continued to accumulate.  Joan Sandoval managed to stay out of the fray and pushed herself over the half-million chip mark to lead the way with Alex Rocha, Beer and Rios in chase headed into the dinner break with thirty-three players remaining.

Upon the resumption of play, the tournament quickly reached the bubble including the surprising elimination of the player leading the way in the PPC Season 4 Player of the Year standings – James Sloat.  William Beer also got on a rough stretch and ended up being knocked out on the bubble by Ryan Van Sanford.  Once the field was in the money, players started to fall like Ronnie Bardah in 25th place, Sam Rashid in 23rd place and Player of the Year contender Jeremy Stokes in 20th place.

When Felix Ruisanchez went down in 19th place, the two table re-draw took place and it turned the tournament on its ear.  Almost all of the big stacks in the tournament and most of the top pros in the field ended up one table. With the blinds at 4,000/8,000 with a 1,000 ante, no stack shorter than 235,000 chips was on the table featuring Dorian Rios, Steve Karp, Christian Harder and Alex Rocha along with Joan Sandoval and 2014 Season 3 Player of the Year John Ott.  Jose Montes and Ryan Van Sandford, who were both looking to clear one million dollars in career live tournament earnings, managed to dodge that bullet going to the other table with Montes holding that group’s top chip stack at 525,000.

Montes managed to take advantage of the short stacks on his table with Mark Merrow going out in 18th place, Mike Beattie falling in 17th place and Montes cracking the aces of Benjamin Perez to send him out in 16th place. The eliminations allowed Stephen Deutsch and Jim Beadnell to escape the brutal table and move to the other one giving them a respite from the dangerous grouping going on beside them.  The action was led by Dorian Rios who pulled some chips away from Sandoval and then eliminated Alex Rocha by catching a semi-bluff and putting him out in 15th place.  Shawn Barnett went out on a heartbreaking hand hitting a turned straight with both players all-in after the flop but Beadnell rivered his flush draw taking him out in 14th place.

Ryan Van Sanford then fell in 13th place setting up the final run on Day 2 with four of the five eliminations taking place on the outer table.  And while the loaded table continued to parry with each other, the short-stacked table saw Jose Montes manage to take out Robert Schulz in 12th place and then Stephen Deutsch managed to close out play knocking out Michael LeMay in 11th place ending play for the day.  Before the players were dismissed, the final re-draw of the Main Even took place to set up an exciting finish to the tournament.  Here were the chip counts and seating assignments for the final ten participants with Steve Karp and Jim Beadnell leading the way.

Final Table:
Seat 1: Christian Harder – 460,000
Seat 2: Steve Karp – 978,000
Seat 3: Jim Beadnell – 950,000
Seat 4: Michael Lerner – 642,000
Seat 5: Joan Sandoval – 627,000
Seat 6: John Ott – 437,000
Seat 7: Justin Swilling – 566,000
Seat 8: Jose Montes – 682,000
Seat 9: Stephen Deutsch – 667,000
Seat 10: Dorian Rios – 670,000

It was a loaded final table with quite a few interesting side stories.  Four outstanding professionals – Christian Harder, Steve Karp, Jose Montes and Dorian Rios – would be pursuing the PPC Aruba World Championship Main Event title. Jim Beadnell had already won the opening event in the series and was looking to bookend titles in Aruba.  John Ott made his second PPC Aruba World Championship Main Event final table and would look to win it all this time around.  Marylanders Stephen Deutsch and Michael Lerner joined Christian Harder looking to take the title back to Maryland Live! Casino.  Joan Sandoval was the first woman to make the Main Event final table and Florida’s Justin Swilling would have good friend Vincent Fiorenza in his corner looking to keep the title in Florida.  Harder, Beadnell, Lerner, Sandoval and Deustch all also had the opportunity to wrest away the PPC Season 4 Player of the Year title from Bill McKown who won Event 8 the night before to take over the points lead going into the final chance to score points for 2016.

In the early going, Jim Beadnell and Stephen Deutsch managed to make early pushes to get out in front of the pack.  Joan Sandoval managed to pick up the first elimination of the final table taking out Justin Swilling in 10th place.  Sandoval continued to move up the chip counts and Steve Karp also kept his stack over the million chip mark.  Stephen Deutsch then managed to knock out Christian Harder in 9th place and Karp then took out Jose Montes in 8th place.  With the cash, Montes was able to some consolation in the fact that he crossed the million-dollar milestone in his career.  But Karp slipped back and Jim Beadnell managed to take him out in 7th place and raking in his 440,000 chips to push his stack over 2.2 million.

The spotlight then went on Joan Sandoval.  Sandoval was looking to catch Beadnell and had Stephen Deutsch one card from elimination.  Sandoval had trip aces and Deutsch was holding a gutshot straight draw needing a king on the river to survive.  A king hit the board giving Deutsch the win and taking Sandoval down to just 90,000 chips and she lost with A-Q against Jim Beadnell’s K-J to send her to the payout window in 6th place.  Beadnell kept rolling as he then took John Ott out right before the dinner break in 5th place and continued to build his lead. The elimination also burst the bubble for the four $5,000 2017 PPC Aruba Packages sending the remaining four grinders back to Aruba for next year’s PPC Aruba World Championship.  When the players hit the dinner break, Beadnell held 47% of the chips in play as he looked to try to hold off Deutsch, Dorian Rios and Michael Lerner.

When play resumed, Beadnell continued his dominance knocking Lerner out and setting up a three-way showdown with the title on the line.  Also on the line was the PPC Season 4 Player of the Year between Deutsch and Beadnell.  The action then went back and forth with most of the confrontations taking place between Rios and Beadnell as Rios continued to hang on.  In the meantime, Deutsch was slowly chipping up and by the time the players hit their next break, Deutsch had managed to get slightly out in front of Beadnell.  Then Deutsch picked off the key elimination using a pair of kings to take out Dorian Rios in 3rd place to open up his chip lead and setting up the showdown for both trophies on the table and a six-figure score.

That confrontation would last 20 hands when Beadnell re-raised Deutsch putting in his last 1,345,000 chips and Deutsch made the call to put the championship on the line.  Deutsch showed and Beadnell turned up .  Beadnell got no help as the board ran out and Stephen Deutsch using a pair of fours which matched his 4/4 date of birth claimed the 2016 PPC Aruba World Championship Main Event Championship and simultaneously also winning the PPC Season 4 Player of the Year title.  Deutsch won the title, $133,687, a 2017 $5,000 PPC Aruba Package, a pair of Blue Shark Optics glasses, apparel from Kicker Power/Kicker Problem and an spot in the PPC Champion of Champions Tournament at Maryland Live! Casino.  For winning the PPC Season 4 Player of the Year, Deutsch also scored a 2017 PPC Aruba World Championship Main Event buy-in and a buy-in at the 2017 PPC North America Championship at the Silks Poker Room at Tampa Bay Downs.

The new champion talked about his run through the Main Event.  “I take every hand one hand at a time.  I don’t think too much about it.  I say ‘What’s the most equity I can get out of a play?’ and watch people and I do well when I’m patient.  The table break with eighteen players was terrible for me.  I had nobody covered at the table, everybody had big chips and the other table had no chips.  And on top of that, there were ridiculously good players that I’ve seen on TV and heard about and I really had to hang in there and got fortunate with a double-up. When they switched me over to the other table, I was able to pick up three or four hundred thousand to set myself up for the final table.”

Deutsch discussed his thoughts about the final table. “I just saw the table draw and my heart sank.  Why in the world was I to the right of Dorian Rios – an incredibly impressive player?  And he really made me tighten my range and he likes to try things to throw off your game and he was there the entire time.  Even down to the final three he was almost impossible to get rid of.  On top of that in the final nine there were so many tough players and I don’t have a lot of tournament experience but I figured it out over time.  Three-handed, Rios liked to battle Beadnell in the small blind so I was just going to let them battle and let them go because I just wanted to get someone heads-up. They went back and forth and I wasn’t included until the end.  Heads-up I had a two-to-one chip lead and I do have a lot of heads-up experience so I was pretty confident in my game.  I got a lot of good hands early on and I was able to whittle him down.”

He talked about how he felt when the final card hit the board.  “I was just so happy.  I had taken a big risk to quit my job to play poker and so this is such a huge payoff for all the people that supported me – my mom and my dad and my wife.  I can’t tell you how many emotions are going through my head right now.  For me to get that win was everything I dreamed of – I’m so happy.  I couldn’t ask for anything more and it’s just an absolutely wonderful feeling.  I can’t tell you how great it feels right now. I don’t even know what I’m going to do to celebrate.  My wife couldn’t come and wish she could have came.  I guess I’ll call her and go get some drinks somewhere.  It’s a beautiful island.  I’m sure I’ll find something to do!”

Deutsch also had kinds words for the PPC Poker Tour and the tournament staff.  “Excellent – I thought it was great.  I love the structure of this tournament.  And you guys are running around just trying to make everything happen.  It went so fluid and it felt so good and everyone’s been so inviting.  The dealers have been great and I can’t say enough about what you’ve done.”

And we can’t say enough about what he’s done.

Congratulations to the 2016 PPC Aruba World Championship Main Event Champion and the PPC Poker Tour Season 4 Player of the Year – Stephen Deutsch!

1st: Stephen Deutsch – $133,687 + $5,000 PPC Aruba Package
2nd: Jim Beadnell – $90,906 + $5,000 PPC Aruba Package
3rd: Dorian Rios – $74,864 + $5,000 PPC Aruba Package
4th: Michael Lerner – $48,126 + $5,000 PPC Aruba Package
5th: John Ott – $32,085
6th: Joan Sandoval – $21,390
7th: Steve Karp – $16,042
8th: Jose Montes – $10,695
9th: Christian Harder – $9,091
10th: Justin Swilling – $8,021
11th: Michael LeMay – $8,021
12th: Robert Schulz – $8,021
13th: Ryan Van Sanford – $6,417
14th: Shawn Barnett – $6,417
15th: Alex Rocha – $6,417
16th: Benjamin Perez – $5,347
17th: Mike Beattie – $5,347
18th: Mark Merrow – $5,347
19th: Felix Ruisanchez – $4,278
20th: Jeremy Stokes – $4,278
21st: Michael Scott – $4,278
22nd: Chris Grove – $4,278
23rd: Sam Rashid – $4,278
24th: Tim O’Keefe – $4,278
25th: Ronnie Bardah – $4,278
26th: Tim Brice – $4,278
27th: Steve Happas – $4,278