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Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Mortensen goes for fourth WPT title


Let's look at some of Carlos Mortensen's World Poker Tour history for a second:

October 2004: Champion, $10,000 buy-in WPT Doyle Brunson NAPC ($1 million in earnings)
April 2007: Champion, $25,000 buy-in WPT Championship ($3.9 million in earnings)
March 2010: Champion, $9,600 buy-in WPT Hollywood Poker Open ($393,820 in earnings)
March 2011: To be determined

Mortensen
Carlos Mortensen goes for his fourth WPT title on Thursday in the LAPC main event.

Could history be made once again Thursday? Mortensen enters the final table of the LAPC main event as the chip leader and is looking for his fourth World Poker Tour title and another $1.6 million in prize money. That accomplishment would not just put him above the rest in World Poker Tour history in terms of titles won (he's currently tied with Gus Hansen at three titles apiece), but also move him into fifth on the all-time money list.

"That's a very big incentive," Mortensen said when asked about winning his fourth title during a recent WPT interview. "Obviously [people talk about] the prize money, but of course one more title. It's sweet."

I'll admit I might be getting ahead of myself just a bit as there is still a final table to be played out with five other tremendously talented competitors. Mortensen's chip lead is anything but secure with Vivek Rajkumar less than two big blinds behind him. Rajkumar is a previous WPT champion as well with a $1.4 million victory at the Borgata in 2008 and is making his second WPT final table out of his nine cashes on the tour (including this event). If Rajkumar gets heads-up, the edge perhaps goes his way as he's one of the best players in the world in that regard with previous first- and second-place finishes at the LAPC in the past few years.

Mortensen (5.3 million in chips) and Rajkumar (5.2 million in chips) shouldn't feel that comfortable with their big stacks as Amir Lehavot (4.1 million) is lurking in third place. The Florida native has cashed in the last two WSOP main events, but his finish here will be the largest score of his career by at least nine times his previous best. Lehavot only has one other cash on the WPT.

Greg "MYNAMEIZGREG" Brooks occupies fourth place and 2.3 million in chips. He's played in the high-stakes cash games online and has taken his talents to the live felt with a cash in his first WPT event, according to the WPT's website. Other the other hand, Darryll Fish (2.2 million in chips) is no stranger to the WPT. This is Fish's 13th WPT event and his second cash on the tour, but more notably, the biggest cash of his live career. Online, Fish is a beast and is coming off a final table of the Sunday Million on Feb. 20. He also owns a WCOOP title from 2009 and victories in the PokerStars Super Tuesday and Full Tilt $1K Monday. Not many can boast that trifecta of victories.

Wrapping up the final six is probably the only one at the table who can top Fish's online résumé, Steve "gboro780" Gross. With $3.6 million in lifetime earnings, Gross has two FTOPS titles, a victory in the six-handed event at the 2010 PCA and seven WSOP cashes. He has one previous WPT cash, but despite all the positives, he'll have only 1.3 million in chips to work with during the final table.

Action on Day 5 played out quicker than expected to reach this final table of six thanks primarily to one big hand. With 12 players left and the final table approaching, Mortensen raised from under the gun to 95,000. Shannon Shorr, looking for his second consecutive WPT final table, reraised to 275,000 from the small blind and the big blind, James Carroll, moved all-in. Mortensen followed suit moving all-in and Shorr called all-in as well!

Shorr must have felt great holding A-A to Carroll's K-K and Mortensen's Q-Q, but poker is indeed a brutal game and after a three spade flop (Js-8s-2s), the confidence shifted Mortensen's direction as he was the only player with a spade in his hand. The turn 10s ended the hopes of a WPT title for Shorr and Carroll and Mortensen jumped into the chip lead. At the same time, Jesse Yaginuma busted out, leaving only nine players left to battle for the final six spots.

Seven hands into the nine-handed final table, Mortensen won a race with 7-7 over Jason DeWitt's K-10 and only eight remained. Seven hands later, Allen Cunningham finished in eighth for his second cash in an open event since the start of 2010. Cunningham's A-10 fell to Lehavot's Q-10 when Lehavot turned a flush. The TV final table bubble boy was David "Bakes" Baker who went in with the best of it, holding K-K to Rajkumar's A-10. An ace flopped and Baker fell just short of making the final day.

Here's what the final six will be playing for:

1) $1,654,120
2) $908,730
3) $640,680
4) $421,680
5) $304,000
6) $235,350

Action resumes on Thursday as the final table for the WPT invitational will play out on Wednesday.

Small blinds: Iowa introduced a bill that would regulate online gambling, but a source confirmed to Gambling Compliance's Chris Krafcik that the online poker section of the bill would be stripped out once it reached the state's Senate floor. … For being the chip leader heading into the final table, Carlos Mortensen will shoot baskets at the Los Angeles Clippers game at the end of the first quarter. … The NAPT has pulled out of its event at the Bicycle Casino later this month due to legal concerns. The event, now named "The Big Event" will still take place and the scheduled NAPT Bounty Shootout will still be televised on ESPN2 later this year. … PokerStars announced Tuesday the three-stop Portugal Poker Series. … Annie Duke will be working with Zynga for the company's first venture into the live poker scene known as "PokerCon." … Erik Seidel won the LAPC's High Roller event for another $144,000 in prize money. With that win he moved into second place on the all-time prize money list. … PokerStars player "Azntracker" became the first player of 2011 to earn SuperNova Elite status. What does that mean? He probably didn't leave his computer since the year started. … There will be a Position Poker event at the Bellagio this year. Position Poker is a game in which the player who wins the previous pot will be last to act on all streets in the next hand. … The Gold Coast poker room has closed.