There are certain things in poker that you will on see duplicated a handful of times. Last year we watched as Brian O'Donoghue won back-to-back events in the Borgata Poker Open (September) for over $100,000. Jim Governa (Richboro, PA) has come as close as you possibly can to repeating that feat, as he takes home the trophy for Event 12, and $36,849. As the remaining chips of Michael Forca (Babylon, NY) were pushed Governa's way, he would be crowned the winner, less than 24 hours after losing a heads up battle to Yeuchang You in Event 10.
Governa chipped up in the early stages of the tournament, and managed his way through a difficult field into the money. Once in the money he lost some critical pots, dropping him below the infamous ten big blind point. The field switched from the Signature Room to the main poker room, and within a blink of an eye, Governa had a healthy stack again. In what would be the pot of the tournament at the time, Governa's aces held up against the open ended draw of Ari Engel (Las Vegas, NV), pushing Jim above the 2,000,000 mark. Engel would finish 21st for $801, and Governa would methodically continue on to the final table.
Event 12 was sure to be a large field, with a $100,000 guarantee for a $230 tournament. The event carried with it 826 entries, and a total buy-in of $165,200. 81 players would cash in the tournament, some of which included Christopher Leong (32nd), Ari Engel (21st), Joseph Cappucio (20th), Khaled Alwan (16th), and Alex "Jedi" Nepomnyaschiy (11th).
The final table saw some very conservative play, rarely seeing hands even going to a flop. It was a testament though to the quality of players who made it that far, like "Miami" John Cernuto (3rd Place - $13,140) and Patricia Heller (4th Place - $10,816). In the hand that would propel Governa to the win, there would be a three way all-in between Governa (pocket fours), Bradford Bauer (7 9 suited), and Hlias Azakas (pocket kings). Governa would be in third place after the flop of Q Q 9, but after turning a four and making a full house, Jim took a stranglehold on the hand (and entail the tournament). Governa would hold over 60% of chips in play after that hand, and cruise to the win.
Jim is a retired police officer, and mentioned that after only getting three hours of sleep after losing his heads up battle, that he wasn't even really tired throughout the day. "I yawned once or twice in the earlier levels, but after dinner break I just got a second wind." Even crazier than that, Jim plans on playing the Seniors event, which begins in less than five hours after the conclusion of this event.
A true marathon run for Governa, we'll keep a close eye as he tries to do something unprecedented, and make it to heads up play three tournaments in a row. We can expect to see Jim throughout the duration of this series, and in the Championship Event.
1. JAMES GOVERNA (RICHBORO, PA): $36,849
2. MICHAEL FORCA (BABYLON, NY): $21,473
3. JOHN CERNUTO (LAS VEGAS, NV): $13,140
4. PATRICIA HELLER (GLENFORD, NY): $10,816
5. HLIAS AZAKAS (OCEANSIDE, NY): $8,813
6. BRADFORD BAUER (EGG HARBOR TWP, NJ): $7,211
7. STEPHEN BECKWITH (JERSEY CITY, NJ): $5,769
8. JAMAAL FORD (SECAUCUS, NJ): $4,327
9. RONALD WALDEN (SUFFOLK, VA): $3,045
10. TODD WEBER (STATEN ISLAND, NY): $2,003