Andy Hwang Survives To Takes Down WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

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On Friday afternoon, poker professional Andy Hwang handled a bit of adversity at the final table on the way to capturing the World Poker Tour’s Borgata Winter Poker Open championship at the Borgata (naturally) in Atlantic City, NJ.

Hwang started the final table with a nearly two million chip lead over Jim Anderson as the cards hit the air Friday afternoon, but it was Matt Haugen who made the early noise in the tournament. Haugen would chop a significant portion of Hwang’s chips away after sniffing out a Hwang bluff on the river while holding two pair. Not content with just damaging the chip leader, Haugen also took some chips off the third place stack of Mike Gogliormella. Haugen would take five of the first six hands to move up the leaderboard into contention.

The Haugen stampede would continue as the first half hour of the final table concluded, this time against Jeremy Druckman. Druckman, who had assumed the chip lead, called a Hwang min-raise only to see Haugen three-bet the action to 725K. Hwang would decide that discretion was the better part of valor, dropping his cards into the muck, but Druckman would come along for the ride.

On the 8-7-4 rainbow flop, Haugen fired an 800K bet, which Druckman raised to almost 1.7 million. Haugen made the call and the duo saw a five on the turn, putting several potential hands on the board. After both men checked, the river King brought another bet from Druckman, this time for 1.95 million, and Haugen made the call. Druckman’s pocket nines were nice, but they were trumped by Haugen’s pocket Queens, giving him the nine million chip pot and the lead with over 11 million in chips.

It would take 71 hands (with Haugen leading the way and Hwang attempting to keep pace) before the first elimination would occur at the final table. 2012 WPT Grand Prix de Paris champion Matt Salsberg had come to the final table as the short stack and battled admirably in his attempt to become a multiple WPT titleholder. That dream was dashed, however, after Salsberg moved all in for 1.5 million in chips and Anderson made the call. Salsberg held the lead pre-flop with his pocket sixes over Anderson’s A-9, but the J-J-9 changed everything. After a Queen on the turn and an unnecessary second nine on the river, Anderson had eliminated Salsberg in sixth place.

The elimination of Salsberg, for some reason, opened the floodgates and the tournament was completed in less than two hours. Anderson would dispatch Druckman in fifth place after an ill-timed bluff by Druckman (with A-10) was met with Anderson’s pocket Kings; a King on the flop virtually ended the conversation. Haugen, who had lost the chip lead to Anderson, was the next to go via Anderson’s hands; Haugen pushed all in for over 2.5 million chips with an off suit Q-J and Anderson cut him off with a suited K-Q of spades. The 8-5-2-2-8 board gave the hand to Anderson and eliminated Haugen. By the time Anderson knocked off Gogliormella in third place, he was a significant chip leader over Hwang.

Hwang went to work on that lead, pulling back to nearly even with Anderson as the twosome jousted for this latest WPT championship. Over the course of the first twenty hands, Hwang took enough big pots to turn the tables on his foe to set up the final showdown.

After Anderson moved all in, Hwang made the call with only an A♠ 6♠, looking to take the championship. Hwang had made the right move as he caught Anderson in an attempted steal, turning up only a 10 8♠ to go to battle. The K J♠ 6♣ flop kept Hwang in the lead and the 5♠ on the turn took away one of Anderson’s outs. Not that Hwang needed it, but the 4♠ river card gave him the nut flush and the championship at the Borgata.

1. Andy Hwang, $730,053
2. James Anderson, $438,698
3. Mike Gogliormella, $265,475
4. Matt Haugen, $222,336
5. Jeremy Druckman, $182,514
6. Matt Salsberg, $147,671

The victory by Hwang marks his first major championship victory, beating his previous best finish in a top-tier event in last year’s World Series of Poker Circuit National Championship. For his sixth place finish, Salsberg now moves into the lead in the Season XI WPT Player of the Year race over Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic champion Ravi Raghavan.

The WPT now packs up its trucks and heads south (presumably to get a bit warmer after the stay in New Jersey) to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL. The WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open begins on Friday (February 8), which is expected to bring a strong field for battle in the Sunshine State. For now, however, Andy Hwang can bask in the glow of being the latest champion on the World Poker Tour.

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