Before last week, online poker phenom Tom "kingsofcards" Marchese had never cashed in a major live poker tournament. Today he’s $827,648 richer and the proud owner of a shiny new PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour championship trophy.
The 22-year-old professional poker player from Parsipity, New Jersey outlasted a pro-heavy 872-player field, claiming the inaugural $5,000 buy-in PokerStars.net NAPT Venetian Main Event championship in Las Vegas.
Marchese overcame a major chip differential against runner-up Sam Stein en route to winning the first ever NAPT event held on American soil.
"It’s a bit overwhelming," said a camera shy Marchese in a postgame interview. "The event is definitely one of my new favorites," he said. "The turnout was great, the structure was really good and the tournament staff did a really good job all week. I’ll definitely be back next year."
A total of 35 countries were represented in the five-day tournament, though the final table was an all-American affair. The event was 18 players away from reaching its 890-player cap and the prize pool eclipsed the $4 million mark. The top 128 finishers took home cash awards.
The PokerStars.net sponsored main event was part of the Venetian’s Deep Stack Extravaganza poker tournament, which also included a celebrity charity tournament, a high-stakes Bounty Shootout event and several after-hours parties.
The Venetian poker room and manager Kathy Raymond did an exemplary job in organizing and staging the event.
Several members of Team PokerStars.net Pro made the money including Vanessa Rousso who finished 25th ($18,080), Friend of PokerStars.net Bill Chen who came in 81st ($10,446) and former world champions Tom McEvoy and Greg Raymer who finished 101st and 102nd respectively.
While the final table was primarily dominated by youngsters, poker’s elder statesmen were honorably represented by 66-year-old professional poker player "Miami" John Cernuto, who finished in seventh place ($104,461). Cernuto now boasts over $4.8 million in tournament earnings, spanning his 30-year poker-playing career.
The main event also attracted numerous celebrity players including baseball great Orel Hershiser, talk show host Montel Williams and comedian Brad Garrett.
The next stop on the PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour is the $5,000 buy-in NAPT Mohegan Sun event, running from April 7-11, at Mohegan Sun Casino.
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