When the final table started at the World Poker Tour (“WPT”) Jacksonville Best Bet tournament most were expecting one of the many poker professionals at the table to emerge victorious. With a final table line up that included Faraz Jaka, Jordan Cristos, and James Calderaro it was the surprising local dentist, Nabil Hirezi, that would end up taking down the title and $206,041 first place money. The local philanthropist and his huge rail were all smiles after the huge win. Let’s take a look at how he got there.
After the first two days of play, Jared Jaffee was leading the way as 19 players survived. They would play down to six on Day 3 and the first player to hit the rail would be Dylan Wilkerson when he was unable to win a race with pocket 8’s against the Ace-Jack of Jordan Cristos. Long time poker pro Dan Heimiller would be next out and he would be followed by another pro, Jason Mercier, when Mercier got into a three way all in confrontation with Nghia Le and Luke Graham. Le had pocket Queens, Mercier Ace-King, and Graham pocket 7’s. Le would flop a set and knock out both players and move into the chip lead with over 1.2 million in chips.
James Calderaro would win a big all in confrontation against John Racener and his pocket Kings would prevail over Racener and his Jacks. That hand would cripple John and he would be eliminated soon after in 13th place. Calderaro would continue his impressive run knocking out Jared Jaffee in 12th place – again with pocket Kings – to give him over 1.2 million in chips. Nothing would change at the newly formed final table as James would knock out Sean Winter to push him over the two million chip mark. His run would end, however, when he took Ace-Queen up against Jordan Cristos and his Ace-King. That doubled up Cristos to over a million but Calderaro was still in excellent shape with 1.5 million. He would bounce right back with a little bit of luck when his 9’s would hit a set against Millard Hale’s pocket 10’s. Hale would be eliminated in 8th place after that misfortune. Nabil Hirezi would end play for the day when he took King-Jack against Bryan Irish-Jones and his Ace-Queen and the flop would give Hirezi a full house. With that, our final table of six looked as follows:
Seat 1: James Calderaro, 1.916 million
Seat 2: Nabil Hirezi 2.792 million
Seat 3: Peter Le 1.083 million
Seat 4: Faraz Jaka 542K
Seat 5: Brian Green 444K
Seat 6: Jordan Cristos 975K
It would only take two hands before we would see our first action hand and it was with good reason. With the blinds at 10K/20K and a 3K ante, Peter Le opened to 43K only to see Faraz Jaka make it 98K to go. Le four bet it to 165K and Jaka five bet all in for a total of 539K. He was snap called by Le who turned over pocket Aces. Jaka could only shake his head as he turned over Kings. A cooler at the worst possible time. The Aces would hold and Jaka would finish in 6th place for $38,241.
Brian Green would get a much needed double up courtesy of Nabil Hirezi when his Ace-King would hold up against Nabil’s King-Queen to move over the one million chip mark. Hirezi would get those chips back and then some via Jordan Cristos when he would river a five high straight on a Q-5-2-J-4 board with A-3 to send the young pro to the rail in 5th place which was good for $47,802. Nabil was the overwhelming chip leader at this point with 4.5 million chips with Brian Green being a distant 2nd with 1.3 million.
Four handed play would last a while as the short stacks would survive their all ins. Nabil Hirezi would see his stack shrink to 3.5 million while James Calderaro would move into a strong 2nd place with 3 million most of those courtesy of Nabil. We would finally see a bust out when Peter Le moved all for his last 140K with Q-6 but would lose to a flopped set of 4’s from Brian Green. For his 4th place finish Le would take home $63,682.
About ten hands later, Brian Green would re-raise James Calderaro’s opener and James would call. The two would see a J-T-5 flop and Green would move all in first to act and was quickly called by Calderaro who had flopped two pair with J-T. Green wasn’t drawing dead with his pocket Queens but the 8 on the turn and the 3 on the river did nothing to improve his hand and he was eliminated in 3rd place taking home $86,043 for his efforts. We were now heads up with the two nearly even in chips with Calderaro holding 4 million and Nabil 3.7.
The two would jab back and forth at one another, trading chips without any huge pots taking place. Hirezi would be the better fighter in this early battle and would chip away slowly at Calderaro to take a 2:1 chip lead before James would hit a small flush to even things back up. The back and forth battle would continue with the two exchanging the chip lead on numerous occasions. With the blinds at 25K/50K and a 5K ante, Calderaro would complete the small blind only to see Nabil make it 150K to go from the big blind. Calderaro re-raised to 550K and Nabil moved all in. James snap called and the cards were turned over – Ace-King for Calderaro and pocket 10’s for Nabil. A classic race for all the marbles. Calderaro would take a commanding lead when the flop came K-6-5 and stayed in the lead when a Queen hit the turn. A ten on the river, however, changed all of that and Nabil’s rail would rush the table in excitement as the dentist sat there stunned, not believing what had just happened. Calderaro finishes in 2nd place for $133,764 adding to his impressive year and Nabil would collect $206,041 for his victory.