He had talked for days about the possibility and on Wednesday, Brian Altman’s hopes finally came to fruition: he won the 2020 World Poker Tour (WPT) Lucky Hearts Poker Open. In doing so, he became the first person in World Poker Tour history to win the same event twice.
“Winning a second WPT title feels amazing,” Altman told WPT.com afterward. “It’s incredibly special. It doesn’t always work out. I’ve had maybe a dozen or so situations where I’ve gone deep and thought I was going to win and I didn’t. But that’s how tournaments go. To continually put myself in a position to win tournaments, it feels special.”
He added that while he always wants to win, he is “happy to put myself in a position to go deep, be chip leader, and make final tables.”
Altman and John Dollinger were way ahead of the other four players going into the final table. They were nearly tied in chips with 10.400 million and 10.275 million, respectively. Each of them individually had almost as many chips as the rest of the table combined.
Altman saw a parallel to when he won the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open in 2015:
Coming into the final table Jake and I had about 70% of the chips in play, which was actually similar to the dynamic that I had five years ago where me and another opponent were tied for the lead in chips, so I’ve been here before. My plan was to put a lot of pressure on the middling stacks, and put ICM pressure on people, and I think I executed that fairly well.
It is a strategy that players often use on the money bubble of a tournament. The short stacks want to stay alive, so they are often willing to give up their blinds in order to avoid elimination. The big stacks can just pound away, accumulate chips, and put themselves in a better position to make a run to the final table.
It’s the same thing that Altman looked to do. Though it wasn’t the money bubble, the money jumps for the final few spots in a major tournament are significant, so the short stacks often want to hang on.
Going into heads-up play, it was Dollinger with the chip lead, 20.850 million to 12.875 million. Altman immediately made up that ground and then some, taking the lead on the second hand after turning trips against Dollinger’s flopped pair.
Dollinger regained the lead briefly, but Altman quickly pulled away, helped by an action flop of 5-5-K when he had J-5 and Dollinger had K-7. A couple hands later, Dollinger ran into trouble when he announced that he was all-in on a hand after his time expired. His hand was ruled dead and though it wasn’t a massive pot compare to the stacks, it had to have been a bit demoralizing.
It was pretty much all Altman from there. On the final hand, Dollinger was all-in pre-flop with A-8, but he was unfortunately up against Altman’s pocket Aces. Dollinger did get the tiniest of sweats with a backdoor straight draw, but the poker gods were not with him and he was eliminated in second place.