Scratch Christian Harder from the list of best poker players without a major title. The Maryland pro won the first-ever PokerStars Championship Bahamas event on January 14, defeating Cliff Josephy in a heads-up duel.

A field of 738 players assembled at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas for the opening event of the PokerStars Championship. They included celebrities such as comedian Kevin Hart, actor Aaron Paul, and three-time Super Bowl champion Richard Seymour. While Hart and Paul busted short of the money, Seymour managed to cash in 89th place.

After six days of play the field was whittled down to the final six, each looking to make history. The chip counts at the start of the day were:

  1. Michael Gentili (Canada)- 6,175,000
  2. Christian Harder (USA)- 5,985,000
  3. Aleksei Opalikhin (Russia)- 4,590,000
  4. Michael Vela (USA)- 1,755,000
  5. Rasmus Glaesel (Norway)- 1,560,000
  6. Cliff Josephy (USA)- 1,240,000

Glaesel was the first to fall on the seventh hand of the day, losing a race with Ah-Kc to Harder’s pocket tens. The remaining five players then settled in for nearly 100 hands, with Harder building a huge chip lead. Finally, Gentili picked the wrong time to push all-in from the big blind, running his pocket twos right into the aces of Opalikhin. After the hand Gentili was left with a single big blind, and he busted in fifth place a hand later after beginning the day with the chip lead.

Despite that double-up, Opalikhin was the next to fall. Left short-stacked after losing a race to Josephy with Ks-Qs against pocket nines, he busted to the kings of Vela. That left an all-American final three to battle it out for the title. Vela, a past WPT champion from nine years ago, lost a three-way all-in to bust in third. After Harder raised from the button with Ac-Qs and Josephy called with Kd-Jh, Vela pushed from the big blind with Ah-6h and both players called. While Vela paired his six on the flop to take the lead, the board came with four diamonds to give Josephy a winning flush.

That hand pushed Josephy closer to Harder, and the chip counts at the start of heads-up looked like this: Harder- 12,130,000, Josephy- 9,175,000. The two players then agreed to a deal, with Harder taking $419,664 and Josephy guaranteed $403,448. That left $10,000 and the coveted trophy left to play for. It wouldn’t take long for a winner to be crowned. On the ninth hand of heads-up, Josephy four-bet all-in with As-8h but was dominated by the Ad-Js of Harder. The board ran out safe, and Harder took the title.

For Harder, the victory was a capping stone to what was already a stellar poker career. With $3.5 million in live winnings coming into the tournament and with several big final tables on his record (including finishing 7th at what was then called the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2008), he finally captured the major win that had eluded him so far. Josephy, meanwhile, continued his solid form that saw him finish in third place at the World Series of Poker Main Event back in November.

The PokerStars Championship was announced back in August as an amalgamation of the various poker festivals that PokerStars ran around the world, including the European Poker Tour. Four further events are currently scheduled, with the next stop being in Panama from March 14-20.

Final Results

  1. Christian Harder- $429,664
  2. Cliff Josephy- $403,448
  3. Michael Vela- $259,980
  4. Aleksei Opalikhin- $191,420
  5. Michael Gentili- $140,940
  6. Rasmus Glaesel- $103,780
  7. Allon Allison- $76,400
  8. John Dibella- $56,260

 

  1. Nadya Magnus- $56,260
  2. Rodrigo Cordoba- $42,400
  3. Michael Bartholomew- $42,400
  4. Marcin Kapkowski- $32,200
  5. Alan Schein- $32,200
  6. Jason Mercier- $32,200
  7. Ryan Riess- $32,200
  8. Pedro Cabeca- $24,640
  9. Rex Clinkscales- $24,640
  10. Adrian Mateos- $24,640
  11. Nick Maimone- $24,640
  12. John Engledow- $24,640
  13. Damien Steel- $24,640
  14. Massimo De Mario- $24,640
  15. Scott Stewart- $24,640
  16. Kevin Andriamahefa- $19,000
  17. Jorge De Oliveira- $19,000
  18. Hendrik Latz- $19,000
  19. Jaime Staples- $19,000
  20. Byron Kaverman- $19,000
  21. Daniel Weinman- $19,000
  22. Francisco Benitez- $19,000
  23. Pratyush Buddiga- $19,000
  24. Gaelle Baumann- $14,760
  25. Smit Trivedi- $14,760
  26. Ronan Gorey- $14,760
  27. Yakov Onuchin- $14,760
  28. Axat Mawji- $14,760
  29. Barry Greenstein- $14,760
  30. James Juvancic- $14,760
  31. Pascal LeFrancois- $14,760
  32. Sam Chartier- $14,760
  33. Tony Tran- $14,760
  34. Valentin Messina- $14,760
  35. Stig Moen- $14,760
  36. Mikko Turtiainen- $14,760
  37. Davidi Kitai- $14,760
  38. Marius Cazacu- $14,760
  39. Kyle Zechner- $14,760
  40. Sylvain Loosli- $11,560
  41. Raul Martinez- $11,560
  42. Kliment Tarmakov- $11,560
  43. Tom Janssens- $11,560
  44. Mike McDonald- $11,560
  45. Erick Brenes- $11,560
  46. Nenad Medic- $11,560
  47. Nick Mossa- $11,560
  48. Paul Ephremsen- $11,560
  49. Lucian Voigt- $11,560
  50. Nacho Barbero- $11,560
  51. Daniel Colman- $11,560
  52. Benjamin Philipps- $11,560
  53. Ami Alibay- $11,560
  54. Patrick Stacey- $11,560
  55. Diego Gomez- $11,560
  56. Allen Kessler- $11,560
  57. Michael Bills- $11,560
  58. Luc Greenwood- $11,560
  59. Donys Agnelli- $11,560
  60. Jan Kralik- $11,560
  61. Ramiro Petrone- $11,560
  62. Murad Akhundov- $11,560
  63. Chance Kornuth- $11,560
  64. Dorian Rios- $9,120
  65. Benjamin Zamani- $9,120
  66. Fabio Freitas- $9,120
  67. Jack Duong- $9,120
  68. Shawn Buchanan- $9,120
  69. Mattias Priolo- $9,120
  70. Vincent Moscati- $9,120
  71. Pablo Mariz- $9,120
  72. Likith Govindaiah- $9,120
  73. Justin Ouimette- $9,120
  74. Joaquin Walter- $9,120
  75. Mariano Martiradonna- $9,120
  76. James Martyn- $9,120
  77. Arnaud Mattern- $9,120
  78. Esther Taylor-Brady- $9,120
  79. Andrew Ryan- $9,120
  80. Stanislav Miroshkin- $9,120
  81. Richard Seymour- $9,120
  82. Andjelko Andrejevic- $9,120
  83. Bradley Snider- $9,120
  84. William Arruda- $9,120
  85. Mike Shin- $9,120
  86. Czeslaw Szerszen- $9,120
  87. Benjamin Wittams-Smith- $9,120
  88. Eric Semel- $9,120
  89. Benoit Galland- $9,120
  90. Paul Fisher- $9,120
  91. Florian Haiduc- $9,120
  92. Michael Scarborough- $9,120
  93. Michael Zuckerman- $9,120
  94. Stein Rodseth- $9,120
  95. Jacques Der Megreditchian- $9,120
  96. Bradley Marsh- $7,260
  97. Paul Knebel- $7,260
  98. Thomas Muehlemann- $7,260
  99. Robert Zipf- $7,260
  100. Harrison Gimbel- $7,260
  101. Matthew Wantman- $7,260
  102. Brian England- $7,260
  103. James Tian- $7,260
  104. Thomas Bo Markussen- $7,260
  105. Harry Ratchford- $7,260
  106. Erling Voje- $7,260
  107. Francois Billard- $7,260
  108. Pedro Cavalieri- $7,260
  109. Erik Lemarquand- $7,260
  110. Will Failla- $7,260
  111. Steven Kerr- $7,260
  112. Gautam Lillaney- $7,260
  113. Bernard Lee- $7,260
  114. Dan Hoidahl- $7,260
  115. Luke Haward- $7,260
  116. Martin Raus- $7,260
  117. Jeremey Grayson- $7,260
  118. William Foxen- $7,260
  119. Hrair Janian- $7,260
  120. Aslan Tcechoev- $7,260
  121. Hugo Boucenna- $7,260
  122. Dominique Mosley- $7,260
  123. Mohsin Charania- $7,260
  124. Charles Carpenter- $7,260
  125. James Hughes- $7,260
  126. Kevin Martin- $7,260
  127. Peter Jaksland- $7,260
  128. Jonathan Dimmig- $7,260
  129. Justin Bonomo- $7,260
  130. Govert Metaal- $7,260
  131. Gabriel Attiave- $7,260
  132. Eugene Katchalov- $7,260
  133. Jacob Snider- $7,260
  134. Taha Maruf- $7,260
  135. Fabian Alvarez Torres- $7,260
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