It’s most definitely cliche to call this a David vs. Goliath match, but if the cliche fits ….
In one corner of the heads-up final of the Main Event of the Ante Up Poker Tournament at Mohegan Sun sat Brian Altman, professional player for eight years with more than $1.3 million in live tournament winnings. In the other? Scott Pelletier, whose biggest tournament buy-in was the satellite he entered to get into this Ante Up Poker Tour series event in Uncasville, Conn.
In the end, it was the Goliath who earned the title, but not before David slung a few stones of his own during the three-hour slugfest that saw several lead changes.
“I had a lot of chips going into the final table,” said Altman, who began Day 2 second in chips behind, you guessed it, Pelletier. “So I played super aggressive, forcing the middling stacks to make decisions for all their chips.”
Altman, a Massachusetts native with a doctor of pharmacy degree now living in Boston, dispatched three of the first five players eliminated from the final table, while Pelletier quietly nursed a small stack, staying out of trouble. But he wouldn’t stay quiet for long. On almost two consecutive hands, Pelletier doubled through Altman with pocket jacks, ironically a hand he laid down to a large bet from Altman earlier at the final table. With those two big hands, Pelletier regained the chip lead and Altman was forced to change strategies.
“I approach a final table knowing that anything can happen. Oftentimes, chips are flying. You just have to move on if something doesn’t go your way,” Altman said. “Once we got to four-handed, the chips became more even, so I kept it more under control.”
But it wouldn’t be long before David and Goliath had the table to themselves. Altman kept the pressure on Pelletier, picking up pot after pot without a showdown.
“Heads-up is all about adjusting,” he said. “I had to get a feel for how he played heads-up.”
But Pelletier wouldn’t go quietly. He battled back to take a rather commanding chip lead, and then slung what looked like to be the final stone Goliath’s way. Altman made a rare miscalculation in his chip stack, and found himself at risk of elimination with Ace-6 vs. Pelletier’s Ace-King. Dead to a six with just the river card to come, you guessed it, Altman spiked a six.
With the stacks even again, Altman went back to work, slowly chipping away at Pelletier for another 37 minutes until he got Pelletier to commit the rest of his chips with Ace-9 after Altman had paired his king on the flop. For Pelletier, there would be no miracle river card as there had been for Altman earlier, and he was ousted in second place with $24,452 to show for the tournament performance of his life.
In addition to the title and $34,914 top prize, Altman wins a seat in the $1,650 buy-in Ante Up World Championship Main Event at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in California this August, his photo on the cover of Ante Up Magazine and personalized champion’s jacket from Ante Up.
While Altman cut his teeth playing poker at Mohegan Sun, this was his first tournament win here. A travel enthusiast, he’s now on the road eight to 10 months a year playing poker, enjoying coffee, wine and beer when not on the felt.
Seven other no-limit hold’em events were part of the series, won by: Kachittavong Soukha ($600 Event #1), Dawn Wilensky ($230 Event #3), Chia Wei Chen ($300 bounty Event #4), Michael Tomic ($120 Event #5), Haralambos Saridis ($400 Event #6) and Dilipkumar Patel ($300 Event #8). The winner of Event #2, the $300 seniors event, did not sign a media release form. Richard Rossi cashed in Events #1, #3 and #6. All event champions won a stylish trophy from Mohegan Sun.
The event in the state-of-the-art 42-table poker room, played out at one of the premier gaming destinations in the United States, featuring three casinos with a total 300,000 square feet of gaming space and 1,200 luxury guest rooms and suites with deeply discounted rates for poker players. When not at the tables, players got dine in one of 40 restaurants and bars, rejuvenate in the 22,000-square-foot Elemis Spa, shop at scores of stores in a 130,000-square-foot retail experience, enjoy the 27,000-square-foot solarium with an indoor pool and whirlpool or take in a great concert or sporting event at one of three fine entertainment venues.
“I think the players were very pleased with the event and happy overall,” said Rebecca Carabino, tournament director for Mohegan Sun. “They definitely played it out for the front cover.”
ANTE UP POKER TOURNAMENT AT MOHEGAN SUN – Ante Up PokerTour
Mohegan Sun – Uncasville, Conn.
Prize pool: $130,270
1. Brian Altman, $34,914
2. Scott Pelletier, $24,452
3. Brad Billerman, $15,724
4. Stephen Dare, $11,646
5. David Stefanski, $8,728
6. Jovy Ounthongdy, $6,982
7. Andrew Badecker, $5,810
8. David Labriola, $4,651
9. Paul Nardozza Jr., $3,491
10. Eugene Sumter, $2,540
11. Andrew Allain, $2,540
12. Joseph Cinquemani, $2,540
13. Patrick Nestor, $2,084
14. John Petit, $2,084
15. Robert Holtz, $2,084