It has been a busy week around the PokerGO Studios in Las Vegas with the 2023 U. S. Poker Open in full throat. Last night, poker legend (just ask him) Phil Hellmuth notched another poker achievement on his resume by winning his first-ever PokerGO Tour event. The attention has been on the overall leaderboard, however, as PGT champion Ren Lin has been able to bypass the force of nature that is Nacho Barbero for the overall lead in the USPO.
Hellmuth Earns First PGT Title
The 88 entries that made up Event #5, another $10,000 Texas Hold’em event on the USPO roster, had been whittled down to seven by the start of action on Wednesday. Jeremy Ausmus was at the head of the table with his 2.345 million chips, but Darren Elias was right behind him with 2.28 million. Those two men would figure prominently in the early going with a stunning hand.
After Elias made a raise out of the cutoff Ausmus, in the big blind, woke up to find Big Slick staring back at him from his hole cards. He would three-bet the action, even though Elias was nearly equal in stacks to him, and Elias was put to the test. He would eventually decide to play for the stacks, moving all in and showing down only an A-5 for battle.
There was no drama to the hand. A King came on the flop, putting a hammerlock on the hand for Ausmus, but there was a chance that Elias could backdoor a flush. A fourth club would come on the turn for Elias, but a 6♠ was not what he was looking for as he left the tournament in seventh place and Ausmus took a massive lead over the pack.
Hellmuth decided to go on a massive attack at this point. In fact, he would be responsible for the elimination of every other player at the final table after the Ausmus/Elias clash, knocking off Allan Le, Aram Oganyan, George Wolff, and Jesse Lonis in sixth through third places, respectively, to go to heads up play against Ausmus with a massive lead.
Even in taking down Ausmus, Hellmuth had to make it as dramatic as possible. On the final hand, Hellmuth (6♣ 2♣) checked his option after an Ausmus limp (Q-10 off suit), and the deck smacked the former World Champion square in the jaw. The monochrome 10♣ 5♣ 4♣ flop gave Hellmuth the flush, but Ausmus’ Queen was a club to give him redraw outs for a double up.
The money would go to the center on that flop, with Ausmus’ tournament existence on the line. A club would come on the turn, momentarily raising Ausmus’ hopes, but that club was the 3♣, which gave Hellmuth the straight flush. The river card was meaningless (a 2♥) and Hellmuth earned his first-ever championship on the PGT.
1. Phil Hellmuth, $211,200
2. Jeremy Ausmus, $149,600
3. Jesse Lonis, $105,600
4. George Wolff, $88,000
5. Aram Oganyan, $70,400
6. Allan Le, $52,800
7. Darren Elias, $44,000
8. David Stamm, $35,200*
(* – eliminated on Tuesday, part of official final table)
Ren Lin Holds Overall Leaderboard Edge over Nacho Barbero
With his victory in Event #5, Hellmuth thrusts himself into the discussion for the overall championship of the 2023 USPO. It is the battle between Event #2 champion Ren Lin and Nacho Barbero that is drawing the most attention from the poker world, however.
Lin finished in eleventh place in Event #5 of the 2023 USPO, with the 26 points he earned there being just enough to push him into the overall lead. His 310 points now is leading Barbero, who cashed in the first three tournaments of the 2023 USPO (a fifth and sixth place finish sandwiching a runner-up behind Lin in Event #2) to rack up 303 points. Those two men have pulled away a bit from the pack, but nobody is safe on this leaderboard with five tournaments still on the schedule.
1. Ren Lin, 310 points
2. Nacho Barbero, 303
3. Joey Weissman, 259
4. Allan Le, 253
5. Sam Soverel, 235
6. Phil Hellmuth, 230
7. Justin Young, 168
8. Jeremy Ausmus, 150
9. Chris Brewer, 149
10. Ronald Keijzer, 146
Event #6, a $15,000 tournament, has only four men left and will play out today on the PokerGO Studios stage. The Main Event of the 2023 U. S. Poker Open will conclude on Monday with the $50,000 Texas Hold’em finale, at which point we should learn who will be the big winners of the entirety of the tournament roster.
(Photo courtesy of PokerGO.com)