After a tough four-day rumble on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, Bin Weng has emerged as the champion of The Borgata’s “The Return” $5000 Main Event. Along the way, Weng, the leader after Day Two, had to defeat final table chip leader Joseph McKeehen and a resilient Sundiata Devore to take the title. Weng will take home a million-dollar payday after a deal was struck between him and Devore.
McKeehen Rides Heater on Day Three
53 players were remaining on Day Three on Saturday, with Weng holding a slim lead over Lanny Vaysman and Christopher Ng. McKeehen, for his part, was just off the Top Ten with his 950,000 stack, behind “Last Woman Standing” Aubrey Williams (975K) but ahead of Justin Saliba (630K) and Anthony Zinno (475K). With the plans to work down to the final table, Saturday’s efforts were watched closely in the first major tournament of 2023.
Williams made some early moves to work her way into the Top Ten early on Saturday’s action. On a monochrome Q♦ 10♦ K♦ flop, Gregory Nerenberg committed his final chips to the center and Williams was more than happy to make the call. She showed A-J for the flopped Broadway straight, but Nerenberg had outs with his K-Q (two pair). Alas, the six on the turn and a nine on the river did not do anything to improve Nerenberg and he departed the Borgata arena while Williams stacked his chips.
With the field cut to the final three tables, McKeehen got on a rush that would deliver him the lead. After the dinner break, he would cut a stack of chips from Devore’s stack, eventually climbing over the five million mark in chips. Unfortunately, Williams’ run would end in thirteenth place at the hands of Lanny Vaysman after he spiked a nine (with 10-9) on a 2-2-8-9-J board against Williams’ Big Slick. Once Sam Laskowitz used pocket rockets to best Jarrett Mullins’ Big Chick, the final table was set with Jonathan Borenstein by far the leader of the pack:
1. Jonathan Borenstein, 9.05 million
2. Sam Laskowitz, 5.78 million
3. Lanny Vaysman, 5.32 million
4. Joseph McKeehen, 5.3 million
5. Sundiata Devore, 4.2 million
6. Christopher Ng, 3.09 million
7. Bin Weng, 3.0 million
8. Grant Lang, 2.68 million
9. Justin Saliba, 1.61 million
That was not enough for the Saturday festivities, however. McKeehen would take over 1.5 million chips from Borenstein to take over the chip lead, then would increase that stack in a cooler situation. McKeehen would take out Grant Lang after Lang committed his stack with pocket Kings against a big blind McKeehen’s pocket Aces. That hand shot McKeehen into a massive lead and the action halted for the night.
1. Joseph McKeehen, 12.385 million
2. Jonathan Borenstein, 6.9 million
3. Justin Saliba, 5.73 million
4. Christopher Ng, 4.64 million
5. Bin Weng, 4.44 million
6. Sam Laskowitz, 2.17 million
7. Sundiata Devore, 1.985 million
8. Lanny Vaysman, 1.755 million
Final Table an Epic Battle
Although he was out in front, McKeehen knew he had to keep his aggressive pace to keep the wolves at bay. While he tried to balance his aggression in attacking correctly, Weng would bust Laskowitz in a classic race (Weng’s A-Q counterfeiting Laskowitz’s pocket eights on a J-2-J-10-10 board) and Ng in another (A-Q besting Ng’s pocket Jacks on a 3-A-9-10-5 board). Those two hands thrust Weng back into the championship battle as he joined McKeehen over the ten million mark in chips.
McKeehen kept the pressure on the opposition, knocking off Vaysman in sixth (another cooler, Vaysman jamming pocket tens into McKeehen’s pocket Jacks) and Saliba in fifth (better hand for McKeehen, pocket Aces over Saliba’s A-Q) to surge over the 20 million mark. One hand would change the fates, however, of both chip leaders.
Off the button, Weng opened the betting only to have McKeehen three-bet the action. Weng did not hold back, powering in a four-bet for his remaining stack and McKeehen called that bet. It was another race, with Weng’s A-K up against McKeehen’s pocket Jacks, and the flop certainly delivered for Weng. Coming down A-A-9, Weng rocketed into the lead and only needed to dodge a Jack on the turn to win the hand. After a 7♥ fell on the turn, McKeehen was drawing dead; once the formality of the final card was dealt, Weng stacked up 27 million chips while McKeehen fell to less than 10 million.
A similar situation would befall McKeehen shortly thereafter. After a raise from Weng on the button, McKeehen three-bet out of the small blind, and Devore shoved all in out of the big. Weng decided to fight another day, but McKeehen quickly called and tabled pocket Kings for battle against Devore’s pocket Jacks.
The flop brought something for both men, 10-9-Q, with Devore picking up an open-ended straight draw and McKeehen remaining in front with his pocket Kings and a gut shot straight draw. A six on the turn did nothing, but the King on the turn was the last card that McKeehen wanted to see. Although it gave McKeehen a set, it gave Devore a straight to the King, sending a more than 15 million pot to Devore while McKeehen was left with scraps (McKeehen would lose his remaining chips to Devore after Devore rivered a five for his A-5 against McKeehen’s A-J to finish in third place).
Heads Up Brings Deal, Crowing of Champion
Weng would start the heads-up match against Devore holding nearly a three million chip lead (21.3 million to 18.4 million). After an hour of play – and little movement in the stacks – the two men decided to even up the payouts between each other. In their deal, the eventual champion would receive a $1 million payday (the original guarantee of the event), while the runner-up got a kick up to $926,128 for their efforts.
With the deal in place, the tournament only took another twenty minutes. Weng was able to whittle down the stack of Devore to the point where Devore would double, but it did not have a significant impact on Weng’s efforts (27.4 million to 12.6 million). On the final hand, Weng would raise from the small blind and Devore attacked with an all-in out of the big. Weng nearly beat him into the pot with the call, tabling an A-K against Devore’s A-Q. A King in the window virtually locked up the hand and the tournament and, after an Ace came on the turn, virtually became a lock as Bin Weng captured the championship of The Borgata’s “The Return.”
1. Bin Weng, $1 million*
2. Sundiata Devore, $926,128*
3. Joseph McKeehen, $440,327
4. Jonathan Borenstein, $368,324
5. Justin Saliba, $304,629
6. Lanny Vaysman, $246,472
7. Christopher Ng, $193.855
8. Sam Laskowitz, $144,006
9. Grant Lang, $101,635**
(* – reflects final table deal)
(** – eliminated on Saturday night, part of official final table)