If you asked all of the so-called talking heads who was going to win the 216 WPT TOC, they probably would have said The Grinder because he had the hometown edge. You might have possibly said big-stacked Jonathan Jaffe for obvious reasons, or made an argument for cagey Noah Schwartz, or even picked 2-time WPT champ Darren Elias. Yet, I'm pretty sure no one would have imagined that either of the unknown European players would win the entire thing, let along finish 1-2, but that's what happened. Farid Yachou, a Moroccan living in Holland, made history in more ways that you can imagine by picking off Romania's Vlad Darie for the TOC crown and the Corvette.
I guess that's the beauty of the World Poker Tour. Since its inception, newcomers were always welcomed to take their shots against the best pros in the world. Farid Yachou is a late-comer to the game of tournament poker. Yachou started playing seriously a couple of years ago, yet somehow managed to learn the game quick enough to crush the field at the WPT Amsterdam and win a ticket to the big dance – the WPT TOC. When he took up poker, Yachou never would he imagined that some down he'd be flying to the United States… for the first time… to play in a poker tournament. Oh, but not just any tournament… the special WPT Tournament of Champions featuring a field of the toughest players the WPT circuit has ever seen in its storied history.
Yachou had never been to America before because he has a horrendous fear of flying. He somehow overcame that morbid fear and got on the plane from Amsterdam across the pond to the United States. Fighting his biggest phobia was a major victory in itself, but the nerves and anxiety of playing in the WPT TOC was miniscule. Yachou knew he was still a neophyte, but was not deterred by his inexperience. In fact, he adjusted rather quickly.
WPT Tournament of Champions
Prize Pool: $1,060,000
WPT TOC - Final Table Results:
1. Farid Yachou (Holland) $381,600**
2. Vlad Darie (Romania) $224,190
3. Michael Mizrachi (USA) $140,450
4. Jonathan Jaffe (USA) $95,400
5. Noah Schwartz (USA) $74,200
6. Darren Elias (USA) $58,300
The small stacks rallied early and turned the tide on the rest of the table, while The Grinder had seized the overall lead. For nearly 40 hands nothing major occurred, but then half the table was liquidated before the 50th hand. Neither of the Euros busted first, as many prognosticators predicted. Rather Darren Elias was the first to go in sixth place. He got it all-in on Hand #39 with Q-10 against Yachou's pocket Jacks. Yachou faded a straight and the Jacks held up. Yachou also seized the lead. Noah Schwartz busted two hands later when his A-5 got rivered by The Grinder's . The Grinder was back in the lead. Five hands later, shorty Jonathan Jaffe bowed out with against Yachou's pocket Queens. With three to go, The Grinder held almost 50% of the chips in play. Yachou won a 1M pot against The Grinder by picking off a bluff on a busted flush. From that point on, The Grinder was on life support and would bust by Hand #50. The Grinder made a final stand with K-9 against Yachou's pocket fours. Although Grinder flopped a King, Yachou flopped a set of fours to win the pot and send The Grinder to the rail in third place. Although he failed to win his third WPT title, the third-place cash pushed the Grinder even more closer to $15 million in career earnings. Unbelievable!
When heads-up began it was nearly eve with Yachou holding a slight edge. It was Holland vs. Romania. Vlad Darie and Yachou played 22 hands of heads-up. When the dust settled, Darie busted in second place and Yachou won it all with A-2 vs K-7. The both had two pair but Yachou won with a better kicker. Darie, who had become the first WPT champ ever from Romania, took home $224,190 for a runner-up performance. Meanwhile, Farid Yachou earned $381,600 for first place plus a brand-new Corvette in addition to some other cool side prizes including Monster headphones, Hublot watch, gold-plated credit card, a customized poker table, and a round of golf at Shadow Creek with Matt Savage!
“It's something I cannot believe,” Yachou told the WPT press crew. “I am seated with only champions. I said to myself, ‘I will be glad if I finish 30th.' Then, day by day and hand by hand it came altogether, and everything came to me.”
Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour
History was made today at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, as we crowned Farid Yachou the winner of the first-ever Monster WPT Tournament of Champions. We thank Bill Mason and his team at Seminole for their tremendous hospitality, and all of the players in attendance who helped us begin the great tradition of crowning the best of the best in celebration of the WPT Champions Club.