WPT Fallsview Poker Classic: The Big Climb

Last week Fallsview Casino Resort was host to a stop on the World Poker Tour from February

17-24, with over $4.4 million in prize money. This was Fallsviews’ 3rd WPT event. The main event ran from February 22-24 with a total of 489 entrants – 63 of whom were paid – each posting a $5,000 buy-in. The tournament attracted plenty of Canada’s top poker players, along with many others from across the globe.

The tournament was held in the ‘Grand Hall’ which is a massive conference room that can be split into many sections. Almost any type of event can be hosted here – from circus’, concerts, shows on ice to business events. Walking into the hall it was very quiet, with an abundance of security and WPT staff preparing for the final day of poker. To open Day 3, there were only three tables remaining, down to 22 players from the initial 489. As it got closer to the start time players funnelled in, taking their seats and stacking their chips from the previous day.  Soon enough you could hear the symphony of the chips and shuffling of cards.  Within minutes the games began and the cards were flying.

To start the day there were a few stories brewing: local Kristen Bicknell from St. Catharines, Ontario was looking to make the final table for the first time in a WPT event along with her third tournament win; David Cloutier was looking to make the final table at Fallsview WPT event for a third straight time; and Darren Elias was going for his third WPT title win to join an exclusive number of players to do so.

Two players stood out from the rest

  • Darren Elias – the only member of the WPT Champions club that was remaining in the tournament. Darren started the day as one of the short stacks. He stayed calm, cool and collected and choosing carefully when to strike. He made a big climb up the leaderboard to get into the top 10 chip count by midday.


  • Abdul Hassan – apparently first time entrant in an event of this level (heard amongst player banter), he was the most exuberant and vivid personality among the players. Abdul started the day off hot, winning a few all-in hands and knocking out multiple players, while bursting out in celebrations. He brought excitement to every hand he played.


As the afternoon wore on the number of players were whittled down to a final table of 10 players. Among the finalists were Abdul, Darren and Kristen. Abdul made big moves, going all-in and winning various hands. Darren and Kristen both started the day as short stacks, however, they both made good decisions and struck quickly once the action started to make the final table.

The final table of players was on the stage in the middle of the Grand Hall, under multicoloured lights, surrounded by stands with family, friends and other spectators. The WPT trophy was mere steps from the table, the ultimate prize players were all chasing for glory.

The atmosphere in the room shifted from chatting and banter, to tension so thick, that you could cut it with a butter knife. To use a cliché, you could hear a pin drop.  With the final 10 set to go, play became very, very tight. There were huge steps in the payouts ranging from $10k to $150k+ from 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

In the end the ‘fan favourite’ Abdul, finished 6th taking home $64,316 CAD, going all in with Queens versus an Ace-King and was out-flopped by two pairs. The winner of the tournament was non-other than the standout player mentioned above, Darren Elias.  It had taken hours to trim the table down to just 2 players – and he was able to finish it off quickly in a few hands.  He won with a Jack-Six, hitting a straight on the river (Nine to King) to win over Dave Eldridge who held a Ten-Nine. Elias took home a total of $449, 484 CAD and the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic Trophy.

The WPT was highly entertaining, with great suspense throughout the day –  from massive chip stack swings, huge celebrations, to the feeling of utter despair from busting out. The WPT Fallsview Poker Classic had it all. Hopefully the future holds further WPT Tournaments for Atmosphere Medias, as it was an awesome experience.

Many thanks go out to WPT and Fallsview Casino Resort for having the team.

Michael Miller

Entertainment Director Atmosphere Medias

Photography for this event by Rob Gracie / RobGracie.com

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