Dan Shak wins Premier League VI

History has a way of repeating itself. I mentioned on this blog in early 2010 that things were shaping up to be the "Year of Dan Shak." After all, Shak had been cruising at the Aussie Millions, winning the AU$100,000 challenge and coming in 11th in the prestigious Aussie Millions main event. Add to those scores a 85th-place finish in the PCA main event, and Shak was up $1.2 million in just a few weeks. The rest of the year featured some big scores, including a runner-up finish in Event 46 of the WSOP, but Shak's heater wasn't sustained, and he ended the year outside of the top 20 in both the Bluff and CardPlayer Player of the Year races.

The past few years for Shak have been filled with appearances in the game's highest buy-in tournaments and his share of cashes. Three months into the start of 2013, it appears to be 2010 once again. Similar to his efforts three years ago, Shak had numerous strong finishes in January, finishing fourth in the AU$100,000 challenge, fourth in the Aussie Millions main event and eighth in the $100,000 Super High Roller at PCA. In February, he cashed in the LAPC main event, and, earlier this month, he finished second to Ville Wahlbeck in the 10,000-pound eight-game championship at EPT London.

His pattern of close calls came to an end this past weekend as he earned a victory in the Party Poker Premier League VI, a challenge like no other found on the poker calendar. I sang the praises of this event last year and echo those sentiments again this year as it allows the game's best to compete in an unusual fashion. The pros have numerous opportunities to prove their skill (instead of one simple elimination in a typical tournament). While it is a made-for-TV event with a small field and intriguing structure, winning it is truly an outstanding accomplishment.

Shak qualified for the final table with ease, finishing second (out of eight) in Heat 1, first in Heat 2, third in Heat 3 and fifth in Heat 4. His 39 points offered him a strong third-place stack to begin the eight-handed finale. Shak maintained his ground during most of the first five levels until the elimination of Talal Shakerchi in eighth. The blinds increased quickly during the final table and, at that point, Antonio Esfandiari moved into the chip lead with 42 big blinds while Jennifer Tilly fell to the short stack with only eight big blinds. Tilly, Tobias Reinkemeier and Daniel Cates fell shortly after in seventh through fifth, respectively. With four players left, it appeared to be a three-horse race with Esfandiari, Jonathan Duhamel and Shak separated by just a few big blinds. Sam Trickett trailed by a 25 big-blind margin, but doubled up through Duhamel to put him back in the hunt and, at the same time, lead to the demise of the 2010 WSOP champion.

According to the Premier League, for most of the final table it appeared that Esfandiari was going to add yet another title to his resume, but one unexpected river card changed his fate. Shak opened with A-2 and called Esfandiari's three-bet all-in, trailing the One Drop champion's 9-9. The flop of Qd-7c-2c gave Shak a pair and a river ace made it two pairs, earning him the huge pot and a 2-to-1 lead to enter heads-up play. Shak's lead vanished quickly as Trickett found value in a flush-over-flush situation, but returned shortly after an unorthodox decision by Shak essentially ended the match. On an As-8h-2h-10s-7h board and a pot of only 200,000, Shak moved all-in for 1.1 million. It was a polarizing move that caught Trickett, holding 10-2, by surprise. After a lengthy internal debate, Trickett called and mucked as Shak showed Qh-4h for a flush. Shak eliminated Trickett on the next hand.

"Don't think I've ever played in a tougher field with a tougher format," said Shak via Twitter. "Grueling doesn't even come close."

Shak earned $450,000 for first in the finals, his fourth six-figure score in 2013. He recently was signed as a member of "Team Ivey," a group of professionals supporting the online training site, IveyPoker.com.

Here are the results of the Premier League VI final table:

1. Dan Shak ($450,000)

2. Sam Trickett ($200,000)

3. Antonio Esfandiari ($150,000)

4. Jonathan Duhamel ($125,000)

5. Daniel Cates ($100,000)

6. Tobias Reinkemeier ($70,000)

7. Jennifer Tilly ($60,000)

8. Talal Shakerchi ($45,000)

Small blinds: The Caesars' Cup will be up for grabs again at WSOP-APAC. The Joseph Hachem-led Asia-Pacific team will face off against the Sam Trickett-led European team for the right to face the Phil Ivey-captained Americas team. None of the captains have announced their five-player rosters as of yet, so who would you put on each team? ... Jonathan Taylor captured $138,938, a seat in the National Championship and his third WSOP Circuit ring of the season with his victory in the Lodge Casino main event. You can watch the heads-up battle here. Allen Kessler, Ray Henson, Mitch Schock and Ryan Lenaghan also won titles in Colorado. ... Ruben Visser won the EPT London main event for $895,370. The Dutch pro has nearly $2 million in lifetime tournament earnings. ... October Niner Russell Thomas won this past week's Sunday Million on PokerStars for $219,184. PokerStars also released its first draft of the 2013 SCOOP. ... The DeepStacks Poker Tour is expanding once again, this time to Panama. The event will be held Nov. 6-11 and the winner will earn a seat into the DeepStacks World Championship to be held at Mohegan Sun in December. The DSPT is currently at Mohegan Sun and, starting on Wednesday, the WSOP Circuit will start its first series just a few miles away at Foxwoods. ... Mike Harris won his second Heartland Poker Tour title on Monday in Iowa. The victory, worth $95,663, was his second career cash. Yup, his first cash was also a win. Not bad. ... Raymond Dehkarghani defeated Sam Stein to win the $5,000 Wynn Classic and $235,931. Tom Marchese finished third. ... 888 received its interactive gaming license in Nevada. They will be powering numerous sites across the state, but most notably ones for Caesars (WSOP.com) and Treasure Island.