With so many entries, players were assigned different starting days, but the deep-stack tournament was a hit with locals and visitors alike. The 45-minute round format allowed all players to get settled and enjoy the action before risking their chips, but not everyone waited to jump into the fray as several players were all-in shortly after their round started. 10 percent of the field cashed, each of whom should be proud to have beaten over 1100 other players to the prize money.
Final table combatants Gant, Adam White, and Matt Elsby were not evenly matched in chips when the play got down to three-handed. Elsby had a commanding chip lead over White, with Gant on life-support. While Elsby and White battled back and forth, Gant held his own and out-lasted eventual third-place finisher White.
With millions in chips on the table, Matt Elsby held a 27-1 chip lead as their heads-up match started. Gant took an aggressive approach stealing blinds while Elsby went card dead and stopped pressuring Gant. With his lead whittled down to 4-1, Elsby raised with A-J off-suit and was greeted with an all-in push by Gant who showed pocket Jacks after Elsby called. An ace came on the flop and that was that.
Less than an hour later when the players were nearly tied in chip stacks, Elsby called another all-in bet and slowly tabled his pocket Tens after seeing Gant's pocket Kings. The board sprang small cards and now the chip stacks had been reversed. It was just a matter of a few hands before Elsby bowed out, looking dejected, but happy to take-down the $147,000 prize money for the runner-up position.
Next month the Arena will feature the 7th Annual Arizona State Ladies Poker Championship with an estimated $80,000 prize pool and nearly $20,000 for the winner of the $200 entry fee tournament. Play starts on September 8th at 10:00am.