Sami Bechahed
Sami Bechahed won the biggest prize of his poker career when he bested the NAPT Main Event field to win $268,945.

The North American Poker Tour Main Event is over, and the winner is Sami Bechahed, who won the $268,945 top prize and his first-ever major live poker title in Las Vegas. The Costa Mesa player brought his brand of Californian charm to the felt and claimed victory at a final table full of top players such as Nick Schulman and Sergio Aido.

Schulman Slain in Sixth

Bechahed led from the front at the final table, going into play with a massive 106 big blinds. That was a big chunk of chips clear of Spanish player Sergio Aido (67 big blinds) and Nick Schulman (44 big blinds), both of whom knew they had the experience to chase down the leader. Sandeep Pallampati (43BB), Ping Liu (31BB), Jonathan Borenstein (22BB) and David Coleman (16BB) made up the remainder of the field, with only the top three players winning six-figure prizes.

It took almost no time at all to produce a first elimination, as Pallampati paid the price for a disastrous opening 15 minutes of play. He went from being middle pin to the first man out when he shoved with Js4s on a board of JhTc4d. Sergio Aido called with ThTd and he held through the 8d turn and 7h river for Pallampati to exit for $42,060.

Nick Schulman was perhaps the most experienced player at the felt, but he fell in sixth place to give the remaining five players all the encouragement they needed to finish the job. All-in with 4h4c, Schulman was super-short and had called off his stack from the big blind after the chip leader Bechahed had shoved from the small blind with Kd7h. The flop of AcKs8d was a disaster for Schulman, who stood to watch the runout of a Td and 2d complete his tournament, leaving him to collect $54,680 in sixth place.

The Hero Call ‘Gone Wrong’

“I absolutely hated that call.” – Phil Hellmuth, 17-time WSOP champion.

With five remaining, 17-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth joined James Hartigan and Joe ‘Stapes’ Stapleton in the booth to provide commentary on the action. A board of Tc8s2d2c9c saw Bechahed lay out a big bet holding the flush with 8c7c. That bet set Sergio Aido into the tank and eventually the Spanish player called with just As3s, ace-high effectively.

“I absolutely hated that call.” Said The Poker Brat on commentary, as Hartigan agreed, calling it “a hero call gone wrong”.

After an extended period without an exit, Aido eventually bought a one-way ticket to Bustsville. Shoving with Kc3c, he didn’t even have the suit to chase against Jonathan Borenstein’s AcTc. A board of Ad9c8hKh]2h saw Borenstein claim the scalp of the dangerous Aido, letting him leave in $71,080 as four Americans remained.

Ping Liu followed Aido out of the door very quickly. All-in with QhQc on a flop of 9d8s4d, Liu had called off his stack with an overpair, but he was wrong to do so, as Bechahed had shoved with top set, his 9c9s unbeatable once the 3h turn and 6s river completed the board. Liu left for a cash of $92,410, the last five-figure prize of the tournament.

Bechahed Beats Borenstein for Maiden Major Title

“I came in as the chip leader, so I didn’t have to be intimidated.” ~ Sami Bechahed

Three-handed, Bechahed had three times as many chips as his two opponents combined. If it seemed a formality before the final trio were arranged at the felt, it certainly was after David Coleman left the party. All-in with Kh7h after calling the shove of Bechahed with AcQc. Coleman couldn’t survive, the nine-high board giving him no hope beyond drawing to a seven that never came. As he left in third place for $120,130, Bechahed (26.9 million) and Borenstein (5,925,000) prepared for the final battle.

It took just four hands of the heads-up duel to end matters in Bechahed’s favor. Borenstein shoved with Tc9s but was called with AcTh and the dominating hand of the champion-in-waiting was never in danger. The flop of KsTd3h was followed by the winning card of the As on the turn. It didn’t matter about the 7c landed on the river. By then, Bechahed was champion, winning $268,945 and the first major title of his poker career. The former dealer’s result was easily the best he’d ever cashed for.

“I don’t know what to say, I’m seriously so shaken,” Bechahed told PokerNews reporters in the moment after victory. “It’s surreal to me with this stacked final table with (Sergio) Aido, (Nick) Schulman, (David) Coleman – very good players. I came out on top. I came in as the chip leader, so I didn’t have to be intimidated by anybody. I’m mostly playing poker to have fun but I take it very seriously. So, I came here to have fun, play my best game, and got really lucky.”

Lucky he may have been, but Sami Bechahed was as skilful to match and fully deserved his NAPT Main Event win.

NAPT 2023 $1,650 Main Event Final Table Results:
Position Player Country Prize
1st Sami Bechahed United States $268,945
2nd Jonathan Borenstein United States $168,175
3rd David Coleman United States $120,130
4th Ping Liu United States $92,410
5th Sergio Aido Spain $71,080
6th Nick Schulman United States $54,680
7th Sandeep Pallampati United States $42,060