Kuzmin wins WPT Southern Championship at Beau

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Alexander Kuzmin solidified his place in poker history early Friday morning when he captured the WPT Southern Poker Championship title at Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss. Kuzmin, from Moscow, topped a tough final table that included a former WPT champion, a WSOP bracelet winner and an Aussie Millions runner-up to capture the World Poker Tour’s first title of 2011. In winning the event, he earned $601,469. Kuzmin’s victory came at the expense of Allen Carter, who lost his bid to become the first to win the same WPT event twice.

Kuzmin entered the final table as chipleader only to lose it within five hands to Carter. Soon after, two-time WSOP bracelet winner Ryan Hughes was knocked out in 6th. Carter dominated the table most of the night and seemed destined to become the first person ever to capture the same WPT title twice. That is until he let the lead slip away when he doubled up Leif Force of Tallahassee, Fla. Unable to regain momentum, he eventually exited in third place after his J-9 was called by Kuzmin with A-Q. By the time heads-up play arrived, Kuzmin was the favorite with 4,310,000 chips to Force’s 2,160,000. Force, who won his buy-in to this event in a $500 satellite, made a valiant try but couldn’t overtake Kuzmin. Eventually, Force was eliminated when he called Kuzmin’s K-4 with J-9 and the board fell Q-5-4-3-2.

“Alex played terrifically,” said WPT commentator and Poker Hall of Fame member Mike Sexton. “He came in as chipleader, lost a lot of chips and went into lockdown mode. He was able to change gears and played superbly once we got down to three-handed poker. He deserved to win.”

Kuzmin stopped into Beau Rivage during a layover on his way back to Russia and ended up a WPT champion. In exchange for delaying his departure, he picked up the WPT title, major prize money, and 1,200 Player of the Year points.

The Southern Poker Championship field of 214 was larger than last year and featured a mix of young up-and-coming stars such as Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger, Matt Affleck and Jason Mercier and veterans such as Scotty Nguyen, Gavin Smith, Chad Brown, former Southern Poker Champion Hoyt Corkins, Lee Markholt and Dwyte Pilgrim.

Final Table Standings:
1. Alexander Kuzmin, $601,469
2. Leif Force, $315,790
3. Allen Carter, $218,471
4. Shannon Shorr, $144,985
5. Patrick Mahoney, $113,208
6. Ryan Hughes, $89,375