Ben Palmer emerged as the champion of the World Poker Tour (WPT) at Venetian Main event on Tuesday, earning himself a tidy $431,655, a sum which includes a $15,000 seat in the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.
Palmer was the chip leader of the nine remaining players going into Tuesday’s action with 5.460 million chips. In a way, I think we all should have expected him to take home the crown, as he had 88 total cashes at the Venetian before this event, putting him in second place all-time at Sheldon Adelson’s home casino.
“It means a lot,” he told WPT.com afterward. “It’s one of the casinos in Vegas I play at the most.”
This was also Palmer’s first major live tournament title and by far his most sizable live cash. Even having earned more than $2.3 million before this tournament, his previous largest cash was for $189,975 when he won a $5,000 event at the Festa al Lago Classic back in 2008.
It was a long Day 4, as the official six-handed final table took nearly 270 hands to complete, and keep in mind that that does not count the hands that were required to get from nine to six players. Palmer lost the chip lead almost immediately to begin the day, but quickly got it back. He then eliminated Ben Yu in ninth place to increase his stack to 7.170 million. Jay Farber, the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up, was next to go, knocked out by Mark Ioli in eighth place. Palmer then sent Skip Wilson to the rail in seventh place to setup the official final table. He held 9.520 million chips at that point, about 4.4 million more than his closest competitor, Orlando Barrera. Everyone was in pretty decent shape, though, so the fact that the final table lasted so long maybe isn’t so surprising.
There was a lot of chip trading and jockeying for position for almost a dozen orbits before Will Givens finally bowed out in sixth place at the hands of Ioli. Ioli himself was next to take his leave 40 hands later, calling Palmer all the way through the river with a flopped two pair, only to see that Palmer had turned a straight. Palmer’s stack was now at 13.250 million chips.
A few hands later, Tony Gargano was loving life, only calling a raise by Barrera pre-flop while holding Kings, flopping quads, then watching Barrera shove all-in. Barrera had Sixes, but who cares because quads. Barrera was out in fourth place.
Three-handed play was a slog. It looked like Palmer was going to pull away for a while, but he was unable to completely run away with it. On Hand 204, Gargano finally knocked out Danny Qutami, A-Q over A-8, to reach heads-up play. Because of that hand, it was Gargano who entered heads-up with the chip lead, 16.800 million to 12.525 million.
Gargano quickly increased his lead, climbing to more than 20 million and then close to 24 million, but of course, Palmer fought back, taking the lead about 50 hands into heads-up play.
The chip lead changed hands a couple times in the ten hands after that, but when Palmer regained it once again, it didn’t take long to finish the deal. With about a 2-to-1 lead, Palmer called an all-in by Gargano pre-flop. Gargano had A-4 and Palmer had Q-T. The flop was 9-J-T, giving Palmer a pair and a straight draw. He improved to two pair on the river and that was it, Ben Palmer was a World Poker Tour champion.
2019 World Poker Tour at Venetian Main Event – Final Table Results
1. Ben Palmer – $431,655
2. Tony Gargano – $277,760
3. Danny Qutami – $204,810
4. Orlando Barrera – $152,690
5. Mark Ioli – $115,105
6. Will Givens – $87,760