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Philipp Gruissem Wins Back-to-Back Titles at Alpha8 St.Kitts; Tom Macdonald Finishes Second

Philipp Gruissem is held aloft by his friends.

The World Poker Tour’s super high roller series Alpha8 rolled into the picturesque Caribbean island of St. Kitts over the weekend and it was almost one of our very own who returned home with the massive $1,086,400 first place prize.

Hull’s Tom Macdonald is more at home playing the highest stakes cash games he can find in Macau, but he made the trip to the opposite side of the world for some sun and high stakes tournament action. It turned out to be a great decision as Macdonald eventually finished second for a $679,000 score.

Macdonald and 22 other players competed on Day 1, creating a total of 28 entries and a $2,716,000 prize pool. By the time it was time to relax on the beach, only 16 players had made it through to Day 2 with chips at their disposal.

Day 2 started with a flurry of eliminations; Paul Newey, Tobias Reinkemeier, Michael Singh and Max Altergott among the early casualties. Ninety minutes into Day 2’s proceedings, Fabian Quoss sent Steven Silverman to the rail and the eight-handed final table was set.

Alpha8 St.Kitts Final Table

1Scott Seiver325,000
2Isaac Haxton288,000
3Tom Macdonald660,000
4Timothy Adams161,000
5Philipp Gruissem274,000
6Mike McDonald448,000
7Fabian Quoss285,000
8Jason Koon360,000

Only five of the final eight would receive prize money so it was unsurprising to see another 90-minutes of action before any elimination took place. On hand #26 of the final table Quoss opened from the cutoff to 23,000 and then called off the rest of his stack when Team PokerStars Pro Isaac Haxton three-bet to 195,000 from the big blind. Quoss showed a most respectable {10-Clubs}{10-Spades}, yet it was not as strong as the {J-Spades}{J-Diamonds} of Haxton. The board ran out {K-Spades}{8-Hearts}{3-Hearts}{q-Hearts}{2-Hearts} to send Quoss to the rail in eighth place.

Four hands later and Haxton joined Quoss on the sidelines. Scott Seiver made it 22,000 to go from UTG+1, Haxton called in the hijack, Tom Macdonald called from the cutoff and Mike “Timex” McDonald came along for the ride in the big blind. The quartet saw the flop come down {9-Diamonds}{8-Spades}{6-Clubs} and everyone checked to Haxton who then bet 55,000. Macdonald folded, but McDonald check-raised all in for 455,000. Seiver folded, Haxton called and showed the same {J-Diamonds}{J-Spades} that had sent Quoss to the rail only minutes earlier. It would ultimate send Haxton to the rail as McDonald flipped over {6-Diamonds}{6-Hearts} for a set of sixes, which held to bust Haxton.

Timothy Adams Bursts the Bubble

Eighteen hands later and the prize money started to flow because Timothy Adams burst the money bubble. It was a rather straightforward hand that claimed the tournament life of Adams; Adams open-shipped from the button for 210,000 with {K-Spades}{Q-Hearts} and McDonald called with the {A-Diamonds}{K-Hearts}. A board reading {8-Spades}{4-Spades}{3-Hearts}{4-Hearts}{9-Clubs} was no help to Adams and he crashed out in sixth place for nothing but memories, while the surviving five players locked up at least $217,280 for their efforts.

Seiver was the first in-the-money player eliminated, getting his chips in on a {9-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}{4-Clubs}{9-Diamonds}{8-Spades} board and losing to the {7-}{7-} of Gruissem.

Then 10 hands later, Jason Koon called McDonald’s four-bet all in with {A-Spades}{K-Hearts} and couldn’t get there against his Canadian opponent’s {9-Clubs}{9-Diamonds}. Koon collected $298,760 for his fourth place finish, the second largest cash of his live tournament career.

Three-handed play lasted 64 hands and ended when McDonald and Macdonald collided and sent the former home for an early bath. Macdonald opened to 50,000 from the button, McDonald moved all-in for 447,000 from the big blind and our man called. Macdonald turned the {A-Spades}{7-Spades} and was flipping against the {2-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}. The {8-Hearts}{7-Diamonds}{5-Spades} flop propelled Macdonald into the lead and let McDonald drawing to two outs. The {9-Hearts} was not one of them and neither was the {K-Diamonds}. McDonald exited in third place, a finish good for $434,560.

Macdonald Makes it to Heads-Up

Going into heads up it was Germany’s Gruissem who held the chip lead, his 1,691000 stack (70 big blinds) towering over the 1,110,000 (46bb) of MacDonald.

Five hands into the one-on-one encounter and Gruissem had extended his lead to 2,111,000 to 690,000 without the need to showdown a hand, but Macdonald dragged himself back into the game when his {A-Hearts}{6-Clubs} stayed ahead of Gruissem’s {Q-Clubs}{10-Hearts}.

Then, on the 150th hand of the final table – and 25th of heads-up – it was all over. Macdonald raised to 60,000 and saw Gruissem move all in for 2,200,000. Macdonald took some time to decide what to do before settling on a call. Gruissem showed {A-Spades}{5-Diamonds} and was trailing the {A-Diamonds}{6-Clubs} of Macdonald – although a chopped pot was also a real possibility. The {J-Hearts}{5-Hearts}{4-Clubs} flop gifted Gruissem an unlikely lead, with the {K-Spades} turn failing to alter the hand. The {10-Hearts} river completed the community cards and left Gruissem’s pair of fives as the best hand, busting Macdonald in second place and leaving Gruissem to celebrate long into the night after winning his second Alpha8 tournament in a row having won Alpha8 London in late October.

Alpha8 St.Kitts Final Table Results

1stPhilipp Gruissem$1,086,400
2ndTom Macdonald$679,000
3rdMike McDonald$434,560
4thJason Koon$298,760
5thScott Seiver$217,280
6thTimothy Adams 
7thIsaac Haxton 
8thFabian Quoss 

The WPT Alpha8 tour now takes a couple of months out of the limelight before jetting off to South Africa on Valentines Day. Will Gruissem make it a hat trick of titles? We wouldn’t bet against him that is for sure.

Data and lead image courtesy of the WPT Live Updates team.

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