2nd Worlds Head Up Championship – The sale of the century?

Reinhold Schmitt
ISA-GUIDE Chefredakteur (V.i.S.d.P.)
E-Mail: info@isa-guide.de

Within the Austrian Masters, the 2nd Worlds Head Up Championship took place at the Concord Card Casino in Vienna from June 11th to June 14th. It was held under the direction of the tournament directors John Shoreman, Nic Sceremeta and Richard Geller.

Forty-four international poker players (in 2001 there were 75 players) – thirteen won in satellites – fought for the trophy. Last years champion Bruno Fitoussi (ISA-CASINOS reported 2001) came defend his title. Top poker players like Chris Bigler, Barry Boatman, Hans Pfister, Eddy Kapilanov, Mark Duran, Ron Rose, Steven Young, Marcel Luske, Marcus Golser (WPPA), Dave „Devil Fish“ Ulliot, Jac Arama, Mel Judah, Tony G, Asher Deril, Michel Leibgorin, Joe Beevers, Pascal Perrault, Roy Brendlay, Kiril Gerasimov – just to mention a few – came to Vienna. The Buy In was 3.000,- EUR + 150,- EUR, the game was played after the „Freeze Out“ rules.

Bruno Fitoussi had to admit defeat in the third round against Roy Brindley. Just like Chris Bigler, who lost against Barry Boatman in the same round, and Steven Young who was defeated by Mark Duran. In the second round Peter Karall, Mario Fathimirad, Carlo Citrone, Ram Vaswari, Ron Rose Angelo Yu and Oystein Halland had to leave the table.

In the quarter-final of the second group Chris Bigler had to give in to Roy Brindlay and Mark Duran outplayed Mario Bentivedo. In the first group Tony G. defeated Asher Deri and Kiril Gerasimov won over Surinder Sunar.

Kiril won the semi-final in the first group against Tony G. and it came to a huge uproar. The semi-final in the second group was won by Mark Duran, who played against Roy Brindley. So the final table was set with Kiril Gerasimov and Mark Duran. In the end, Kiril Gerasimov won the cup, became 2nd Worlds Head Up Champion and won 60.000,- EUR

ISA-CASINOS congratulates the world champion Kiril Gerasimov to a extraordinary match.

The general mood of the 2nd Worlds Head Up Championship was depressed. Lots of players expressed their resentments about how the game was handled and its progression. It was talked about bad organisation, too little contestants, too expensive Buy In, little information and bad timing.

Even the Leader of the tournament Richard Geller expressed after being asked by the ISA-CASINOS (R. Schmitt) that the Buy In was made that expensive because of suggestions form the US champions to keep up the prize money. Phil Helmuth was quoted, who said, that the Buy In should be high, so that the tournament would be interesting. But he did not turn up, just like many others. Richard Geller did not want to make any more statements about the reported reproaches, but revered to that he was member of the tournament direction and so takes notice of everything and will discuss it.

Chris Bigler, well known for his open words, said: „Everything which could go wrong, did. Bad organisation, no know how. One should give the organisation to those who know what they do.“ Further said he, „Nic Sceremeta is a nice and qualified guy in the poker scene, but a tournament is something special.“
Bigler found it fault, that the satellites started too late. Early satellites might have arose interest. In addition, more satellites should have been offered at a appropriate time during the tournament. Lots of other players agreed and showed dissatisfaction with the little number of players.

A man from Austria said: „The organisation should have placed more advertisements before the tournament started, especially more ads in German. More satellites should have been offered to offer a chance to win an place in the game. 30 players could have qualified in the run up. This would have been an stimulation for lots of European players to join the company.“ In his opinion the game was dead before it started. „You can offer a tournament like this in Britain or the US, but not here.“

Asher Deril said: „I would not have paid 3.000,- EUR Buy In, but as I won a satellite I had the possibility to play.“

Marcel Luske told ISA-CASINOS: „Reinhold, as you can see, some of the best poker players take part in this interesting and high class poker game. It is a fact that this is the game where the best players fight. But it is a pity, that most first class players did not show up.“

ISA-CASINOS asked the tournament direction where the sponsoring partner were, and was told, that the main sponsor did not provide additional tables and did not even show up. Only the money for the TV team was paid, so that the camerateam recorded the tournament, which will be shown on Sky Channel in July. So no more tables were set up to be played on.

ISA-CASINOS and INGO Group from Czech sponsored three additional weekend trips for two, who were dealt for at the semi-finales.

The semi-final between Tony G. and Kiril Gerasimov troubled the minds of many players. Tony lost against the Russian player. Tony had J diamonds / 8 spades, Kiril Q spades / 3 diamonds. At the board were 8 hearts / Q hearts / 2 diamonds / 3 hearts / 9 spades. Kiril went All In at the River Card, Tony called and lost the game with two pairs at Kiril, Queen and Three.

Suddenly Lefty went over to Tony G and told him: „I went from the final table to the toilettes. On the right, there was the office-door where the staff was, and where the TV-cameras showed both hands live. At this moment a man walked to the barrier of the final table and found himself an place.“

After the game I told Tony G. what I had seen and he complained. Everything went upside down, screaming and slander were loud – it is really hard to explain it now. Because of the lost game, Tony blamed the Russian of cheating and thought about raising an objection at the tournament directors. Lefti, who had seen the incident, stick on to his statement being questioned by the management and the tournament directors and confirmed it in public. Everything calmed down a bit and the incident was reconstructed. (notice of the editor: there are already discussions on this topic at Poker Europe)

ISA-CASINOS also inspected the video room, in which the recording took place. „I saw, that no one could see the monitor form outside the door, which unfortunately was open all the time according to the management.“ So everybody was able to have a look at what was happening. To recognise the cards, one had to sit in front of the monitor, which was placed down at the right side. According to a technician John Shoreman and the director were sitting in the camera-room during the semi-final.

ISA-CASINOS addressed directly to Tony and asked: „Tony, did you really see with your own eyes, that someone talked to the Russian?“ Tony negated this and referred to Lefti’s evidence.

After ISA-CASINOS, Marcel Luske and others were able to calm down Tony, he withdrew his accusation and regretted having followed the other´s opinion. He said he had been upset because of the lost game and simply clutched at straws.

Nevertheless the tournament directors complained about the open door, which was supposed to be locked all the time. Nobody should have had access to the room. A world-championship had been played and a thing like this must not happen at such a tournament. In addition it was stressed, that the world-championship was not directed by the CCC. The CCC just offered the room and the dealers.

In the end this was a world-championship overshadowed by emotions and chain reactions.

But one thing is definitely clear: the Worlds Head Up is an excellent championship which deserves to go on. It is a championship where only the best of the best may persist.

2. Worlds Heads Up Championship Flopp oder Topp?