Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #18 Randal Flowers
They say that you need luck to win a poker tournament, but that players that are more skilled just need less luck than other players. Without the years of experience that some of the poker old guard has had, Randall Flowers has already been on the fast track to racking up good scores beginning at the age of 18. Using online poker as a vehicle to really learn the game, Flowers has to date more than $2.3 million in online tournament winnings. But the now 22-year old poker phenom took to the casino’s in Verona, New York to really jumpstart his live play, as they allowed players to compete from the age of 18. Flowers booked several final tables in New York, including a 3rd place finish for $72,480 in the $5,000 buy-in Empire State Hold’em Championships, and rode that wave of live success to the EPT in San Remo in 2008, where he’d bubble the final table by losing a flip for a huge stack.
But in 2009, the 21-year old Flowers final tabled the WPT Barcelona with a huge stack, en route to besting Per Sjogren heads up to claim a WPT Title with more than $380k in prize winnings. The WPT win made history as Flowers became the youngest player ever to win a WPT title at 21 years old, and placed him on the map as one of the brightest tournament pro’s on the circuit, with the poker world waiting to see what would happen in 2010.
To start the year, Flowers min-cashed at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas finishing 83rd out of the massive field of 1,529 players in the $10,000 Main Event in January. Then in April, Flowers again found himself in the winner’s circle, this time taking down the $5,000 Buy-in event at the WPT Five Star World Classic series of events at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The final table included the likes of Justin Bonomo (3rd), Eric Baldwin (6th), and Andrew “LuckeyChewey” Lichtenberger (9th), but it was the young star Flowers who shined the brightest, en route to booking another $166,889 for topping the 91 player field.
A few weeks later, Flowers found himself again at another final table in Vegas, this time taking 6th in the 2010 Deep Stack Extravaganza at the Venetian. The big scores gave Flowers the right mindset heading into the World Series of Poker in a little more than a month. However, the WSOP was met with mostly disappointing results. Flowers did manage 2 cashes in the WSOP, a 10th place finish in the $1,500 6-max event for $30,420, and an 88th place finish in the $2,500 6-max event for another $5,669.
After some time away from the tables, Flowers found himself again with a stack of chips in October at the $10,000 WPT No Limit Hold’em Championship Event at Festa Al Lago. This time, Flowers was looking to make history in becoming the youngest two-time WPT Title Holder.
Festa Al Lago turned out an impressive 335 players for their Main Event, including some of poker’s biggest names late in the event. Players Annette Obrestad, Jeff Madson¸ Andy Frankernberger, and Chad Batista all made deep runs, as did a few hot players like Brandon Steven, who was coming off of a 10th place finish at the WSOP Main Event, and Allen ‘Chainsaw’ Kessler who with his 8 cashes at the WSOP tied Shawn Buchanon for the most at the WSOP in 2010. But as play wore on, each of those names fell one by one, leaving Flowers with the chip lead as the final table began play, and a step closer to once again claim his spot in WPT history.
25 hands into play it was Skip Wilson who found his way out of the tournament, and a few hands later Andy Frankenberger was denied his 2nd WPT Championship of the season when he was eliminated in 5th, which saved WPT Host Vince Van Patten’s hair. Van Patten and WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage had placed a wager on whether there would be a dual winner on the season, with Savage putting up $100 and Van Patten offering to shave his head. Savage would pony up the Benjamin later in the year.
Jason Koon was eliminated in 4th place by Flowers when Randal’s straight to the Jack, was higher than Koon’s smaller straight. The elimination gave Flowers a massive 7.8 million chip stack that he’d never let go of. In fact, just 82 hands into the final table, Flowers KO’d his 3rd straight player as Noah Schwartz was his most recent victim when his K-Q was no match for the AQ of Flowers, and when heads up play began, Flowers held a commanding chip lead of almost 3 to 1.
Heads up play lasted a total of 14 hands when Michael Benvenuti moved all in on a board of 9-6-5 with two spades, tabling Qs-7s for a flush and gut shot straight draw, but he was behind the 9-3 of Flowers who had flopped top pair. The turn brought the 4c and the river was a red Ace as the crowd went ballistic for their guy, chanting “Rand-ALL! Rand-ALL! Rand-ALL” paying homage to his online username.
With the elimination of Benvenuti in 2nd, Randall Flowers made WPT history again by becoming the youngest two-time winner of a WPT Main Event. The $831,500 first place prize took Flowers to more than $1.7 million in career live winnings and left spectators begging the question “what’s next?” Flowers’ story is still too new to be written, but the capturing of his second WPT title definitely makes Flowers story one of the best of the year.