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Season 1



WPT Event - Aruba Poker Classic

Aruba Poker Classic

The first half of the tournament consisted of one hundred "amateur" online qualifiers playing down to one champion. The second half of the tournament pitted eight pros against each other, also playing down to one champion.

The winner of each bracket, fresh from pocketing a handsome cash prize, then went Heads Up, amateur vs. pro, David vs. Goliath, for Caribbean bragging rights, and a $25,000 seat in the WPT Championship.

The final table for the "amateur" online qualifiers consisted of two twenty-something friends from Finland, Woody Moore, a retired oil executive, and Kathy Leibert (okay, the "amateur" tag is a tad misleading). Kathy, one of the most accomplished tournament players in the world, was the clear favorite.

But proving that in poker a rank amateur can compete with a seasoned pro, that a duffer could go a round of golf with Tiger Woods and have a shot of winning, the last two standing were the friends from Finland. In a battle made more competitive because of their relationship, Juha Helppi eventually came out on top, garnering a $50,000 prize and a chance to test his skills against the champion from the Pro bracket.

Juha's eventual foe would come from one of the final four pros. From the original eight invited to the event, the last four were Scotty Nguyen, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Gordon and Jennifer Harman. The fireworks started almost immediately with a rivalry hand between the two Phils.

In this spectacular hand, Hellmuth, with three Queens's, was sure he had won. But Gordon slow rolled a monster full house, with Queens’s full of King’s. This was the beginning of Gordon's run. He went on to beat the other pros, pocketing a cool $250,000 and heading for a showdown with the young Finnish sensation.

But once again showing just how good the online players really are, Juha beat back repeated attempts by Gordon to steal pots. The ultra-competitive Gordon, clearly frustrated, was soon toppled by Juha.

David had beaten Goliath. Juha went home with a tan, some money in his pocket, and a seat at the WPT's championship event.

- Thomas Hardy