By Nathan Carroll, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer
As any player could tell you, winning a live poker tournament is an incredibly difficult task. Not only do you have to maintain absolute focus and play nothing but your A-game for a long period of time, but you also need to have lady luck on your side. In a field with hundreds of players, skill alone will not be enough to ensure that you end up on the winner's block.
All of this helps to explain why one of the most amazing accomplishments in poker is to maneuver your way to victory in a tournament and then, a year later, do it again. Johnny Chan pulled off the near-impossible by winning back-to-back WSOP Main Events in 1987 and 1988. His feat may never be replicated, but Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst has managed an impressive repeat of her own.
On Wednesday, the Yale law student took down first prize at the North American Poker Tour's Mohegan Sun Main Event, a tournament that she also won in 2010. For her victory this year, she took home $450,000, bringing her total live tournament cashes up to $4.1 million.
Due to a World Poker Tour event taking place at the same time, the NAPT Mohegan Sun main event fetched only 387 entrants, a significant drop from last year's field of 719. Regardless, Selbst had to fight her way through scores of other world-class professionals hoping to take the title.
One of her most notable final-table-mates was Joe Tehan who was seeking his second NAPT title in six months, having taken down his first at the NAPT Los Angeles in November of last year. Her eventual heads-up opponent, Dan Shak, is also no newcomer to the tournament scene. After pocketing $254,000 for his second place finish his live tournament cashes are now over $2.7 million.
Shak held a strong lead at the start of heads-up play, with nearly 8.7 million chips to Selbst's 3 million. Vanessa chipped up slowly by winning several pots without showdown, then caught a huge double-up with K-K against Shak's K-Q. The hand pushed her into a commanding lead. She eventually dealt Shak the death blow with K-7 vs. Shak's J-7 on a K-7-3 flop.
Amazingly, a different talented young Team PokerStars Pro is also making a run at back-to-back NAPT Mohegan Sun wins.
Jason Mercier, winner of last year's $10,000 High Roller Bounty Shootout, has reached the final table of the 2011 edition. Along the way he racked up more $2,000 bounties (six) than any other player in the field. He will be competing for the $142,600 first place prize.
Want to play a North American Poker Tour event? Sign up for a PokerStars today and win a seat for a fraction of the cost. You will also receive up to a $600 sign up bonus when you use the bonus code STARS600 and the marketing code rakeback.com.
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