The 2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event steamed onward on Wednesday, with the final three tables being determined and Steven Greenberg taking over the chip lead with a 3.753 million chip stack.
Day 3 of the tournament saw 159 players returning to the tables at the Borgata in Atlantic City, NJ, but there was an ominous tone to the proceedings. With 156 players getting paid in the tournament, that meant that three people that came back to the Borgata on Wednesday would be departing quickly and with nothing to show for their efforts. The cards hit the air just after noon on Wednesday to take on this challenge and nobody wanted to be one of those who would depart on the bubble of the cash.
The first two eliminations came within 10 minutes of the opening bell, bringing the tournament to the stone money bubble with 157 players remaining. On the fifth hand of hand-for-hand play, not one but two players were knocked out to split the 156th place money. First, Jonas Wexler went all in with a K-Q, but chip leader A. J. Kelsall looked him up with pocket fives, flopped a set and rivered an unnecessary boat to take him out. Simultaneously, Konstantinos Koufalis got the last of his chips in on an A♥ K♥ 5♥ 4♦ flop and turn against Erick But. Koufalis’ K♣ Q♥ had a few hopes against But’s A♦ J♥ (the other two Kings, any heart), but the river 7♦ ended those hopes. Although both were eliminated on the bubble, Wexler and Koufalis did get a small return on their time through earning $3064.50 each for their finish in a tie for 156th place.
Once the money bubble popped, there was the usual “short stack rush” from the players who were just hanging on in the tournament to make the money. Micah Raskin, Esther Taylor, John Roveto, Keven Stammen, Cornel Cimpan, Ray Quartomy, Ryan D’Angelo, and Richard Seymour all picked up some cash for their efforts and, after a few hours, new contenders would emerge for the championship. In one case, that contender was almost out of the tournament before hitting a huge rush to race to the end of the night.
With a flop and turn of 6♥ 5♣ 3♣ J♥ and facing a 55K bet from his opponent (into a 70K pot), Steven Greenberg pondered the situation extensively before moving the remainder of his stack (265K) into the center. Greenberg’s opponent, Richard Foster, himself took a moment before making the call and turning up his 9♣ 4♣ for the baby flush draw. Greenberg had the goods with his 6♦ 5♦ (two pair), but he had to also feel some trepidation with the possibility of nine clubs ending his tournament. The river was a black card, but it was the K♠, giving Greenberg the double up to 600K and starting him on a hot streak.
Greenberg didn’t waste those newfound chips. He more than doubled that stack (to 1.285 million) by the time the dinner break rolled around, putting him in the Top Ten in the tournament. After the sustenance, Greenberg came back to the felt to take down former WPT champion Mike Linster in a classic race, Greenberg’s pocket Queens standing against Linster’s Big Slick, to crack the two million chip mark. Although he would double up a tough customer in Eric Afriat to fall off that perch, Greenberg didn’t take his foot off the gas. As the tournament day inched towards its conclusion, Greenberg had not only recovered those chips he gave to Afriat but also added to the stack, going over four million chips in eliminating Collin Whyte in 31st place late in the evening.
On the last hand of the night, Joseph Giulino pushed out his last 326K in chips, the classic “double up or don’t come back tomorrow” move, and he was looked up by Adam Hendrix. Giulino’s pocket fives were ahead of Hendrix’s A-Q through the flop, but a Queen on the turn flipped the fortunes. When the river wasn’t a five, Giulino was out of the tournament in 28th place, setting the stage for the final three tables today.
1. Steven Greenberg, 3.753 million
2. Chase Bianchi, 3.698 million
3. Stephen Song, 2.613 million
4. Raghuram Jonnalagedda, 2.503 million
5. Kane Kalas, 2.281 million
6. Daniel Aharoni, 1.994 million
7. Damjan Radanov, 1.974 million
8. David Paredes, 1.5 million
9. Spencer Champlin, 1.33 million
10. Ioannis Patsourakis, 1.309 million
Bubbling under the Top Ten are former World Champion Joseph McKeehen, (1.185 million), Afriat (1.123 million), Jonathan Little (1.1 million) and Kevin Saul (940,000). They are still in it, but Casey Yontz (495,000) and Amnon Filippi (484,000) have some work to do if they are to drive much further.
It looks as though it will be a long day on the Jersey Shore. The plans are to play from the final 27 players at noon down to the WPT final table of six. Once this is achieved, the survivors will come back on Friday with the championship hanging in the lurch, along with the $651,928 that the eventual champion will take home.