It took a grand total of five hours for Day 4 of the 2019 World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Festival to determine its final table on Wednesday. When the smoke from the rush to the exits cleared for the first event of the WPT’s Season XVIII schedule, it was the Day 3 leader Lior Orel who had reemerged as the chip leader with some formidable foes facing him around the table.
Only 11 Players to Start the Day
With only 11 players on the tables to start the action on Wednesday, the short day was expected by all. With the goal to get down to the WPT six-handed final table, only five eliminations were necessary, with short stacked players like Nipun Java, Andrew Wisdom and Vladimir Vasilyev all facing an uphill battle. Maria Ho, Cord Garcia and Roger Teska were a little better stacked, but they were looking up at Eric Hicks’ 3.06 million stack with envy as they looked to climb into contention.
There was plenty of attention on the only woman left in the tournament, Ho, who has been on an incredible run as of late. Ho was at the final table of one of the final events of the Season XVII schedule, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, and she was looking to improve on that third-place finish in that tournament. Ho would get off to a so-so start, however, stacking some chips from Orel before turning around and handing them to Garcia in the early action.
With his short stack, it was natural that Java was the first to go. In a race with his pocket Jacks against Orel’s Big Slick in diamonds, the Q-K-6 flop immediately switched the situation. A nine on the turn opened some other doors for Java but, when the river brought a second nine, those doors were closed and Java was on the rail, collecting 11th place money for his efforts.
Hicks maintained his chip advantage by bringing the tournament to the unofficial final table. After raising from under the gun, Hicks saw Eric Wong move all in from the cutoff and Hicks immediately called. It turned out to be the right decision: Hicks’ pocket fives were up on Wong’s K-J off suit and, once the board ran out 7-6-4-3-2, Hicks unnecessarily improved to a straight as Wong was knocked out in tenth place and brought about the redraw for the final nine.
Three Eliminations to Go
The final nine were tightly packed together with Ho as the short stack, but it was Vasilyev who would be the first casualty. Teska seized control of the betting with a raise out of the cutoff and Vasilyev, taking this as a move, went all-in over Teska’s bet from the small blind. Teska didn’t hesitate in making the call, turning up pocket sixes for battle against Vasilyev’s A♥ 9♥. The flop made it interesting, coming with two hearts, but no more hearts nor any other out would come on the turn or river, ending Vasilyev’s day in ninth place.
Teska would also be responsible for sending Ho out of the tournament. Ho, whose stack had been whittled down to under 300K, would look to make a move off the button by going all in. Teska, however, had other plans as he squeezed his cards and immediately called. Once Orel got out of the way, the cards were turned up and Ho saw she was in big trouble. Teska’s pocket Queens were not what Ho wanted to see for her J-10 off suit and the 8-8-6 flop didn’t help the situation. There was paint on the turn, but it was a King that left Ho almost drawing dead to the river (a possible four flush existed). Once the formality of the river card was dealt and it wasn’t a club, Ho was done for the tournament in eighth place.
It would take another 30 minutes to determine the final knockout for the day and, when it was over, there was a new leader in the tournament. Orel raised from under the gun and saw Hicks three bet the action to 180K. Orel made the call and the very juicy K♠ Q♦ J♥ rainbow flop brought a check-call out of Orel of 125K. A turn 5♠ didn’t seem to help anyone, but Hicks would continue to fire with a 350K bet that Orel called. Once a 2♠ hit on the river to complete a potential flush, Hicks fired again for 425K, leaving but a pittance behind him.
Orel didn’t hesitate, moving all in over a disappointed Hicks because he saw the writing on the wall. He called off his final chips and turned up pocket Queens for the flopped set, but Orel got there on the river for the nut flush with his A♠ 8♠. With that hand, Orel took over the chip lead and sent the start of day chip leader to the rail in seventh place to set today’s final table.
1. Lior Orel, 3.245 million
2. Roger Teska, 2.97 million
3. Laszlo Molnar, 2.865 million
4. Lars Kamphues, 2.54 million
5. Cord Garcia, 1.88 million
6. Andrew Wisdown, 1.435 million
With the final six players so closely packed together and deep – even Wisdown has 48 big blinds to play with – it could be a long night for those in the Gardens tournament poker arena. The tournament will play out live this afternoon (instead of the “delayed” final tables that the WPT is embracing) beginning at 2PM (Pacific Time), but information from the WPT states it will not be aired on television or livestream. The winner, however, will be the first name etched onto the WPT Champions’ Cup for Season XVIII, earn a seat to the Season XVIII WPT Tournament of Champions, walk off with a new BMW (courtesy of the Gardens Casino) and a payday of $368,475.