It looked like it was going to be a two man race for the title at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Venetian final table on Wednesday, and sure enough, that is what it turned out to be. In the end, Chad Eveslage emerged victorious over Mike Liang heads-up to win his first WPT championship and the $910,370 first prize.
It was a historic six-handed final table, if not a fairly predictable one. For the first time in World Poker Tour history, three of the six players were women. Only two women – Van Nguyen and Ema Zajmovic – have ever won WPT titles. Nguyen won hers in 2008 at the WPT Celebrity Invitational, but Zajmovic became the first woman to win an open event (meaning not an invite-only tournament) in 2017 at the partypoker.net WPT Playground Main Event.
It did not look promising for the women on Wednesday, though, as they were prohibitive short stacks going into final table action. Kitty Kuo had 2.700 million chips, Kyna England, who was the chip leader for a time on Tuesday, had 2.575 million, and Daniela Rodriguez had 2.250 million. Tim McDermott was in third place with 4.500 million, but it was Liang and Eveslage who each had more than the other four players combined, holding 18.225 million and 17.725 million, respectively.
Rodriguez doubled through Kuo early and a cripple Kuo was the first one to hit the rail on the 14th hand of the day. Rodriguez herself was next, moving all-in with A-K of spades against Eveslage’s Sixes on Hand #34, unable to win the race.
McDermott, fighting an uphill battle all day but wearing an awesome “DOOM” video game shirt, finally dropped on Hand #79 with Q-T versus Liang’s A-J.
Impressively, England made it all the way to Hand #92, but her A-8 of clubs couldn’t improve against Eveslage’s pocket Tens and she was eliminated in third place.
And thus, as expected, it came down to Liang and Eveslage, nearly tied like they were going into the final table, Liang with 24.525 million chips and Eveslage with 23.450 million. Though blinds were fairly steep at this point at 100,000/200,000 with a 200,000-chip ante, it could have been a long heads-up match between to even stacks, but it was over in the blink of an eye.
On the second hand, Eveslage raised to 500,000, Liang three-bet to 1.850 million, and Eveslage called. On the flop of J-T-T, Liang bet 1.300 million and Eveslage called again. With a King on the turn, Liang kept going, betting 3.500 million, and Eveslage called. The river was an 8 and Liang moved all-in. Eveslage made the call, himself all-in with a slightly smaller stack. Liang had a great hand, turning over a suited Q-T for flopped trips, but Eveslage had Q-9 for a turned straight.
Eveslage took an overwhelming lead, 45.750 million to 2.225 million.
Liang was able to double-up once and hang on for about a dozen more hands, but the deficit was just too much to overcome and he eventually fell with A-9 against Eveslage’s Queens.
Eveslage patted himself on the back afterward, but gave more credit to the poker gods.
“This whole tournament I kept going all in and winning,” he told WPT.com. “I think I’m really good, but anybody would have won with my luck. It feels like I’m in the Twilight Zone, where the guy is in the casino and he can’t lose.”
2021 World Poker Tour Venetian Main Event – Final Table Results
- Chad Eveslage – $910,370
- Mike Liang – $606,890
- Kyna England – $448,755
- Tim McDermott – $335,200
- Daniela Rodriguez – $252,945
- Kitty Kuo – $192,855
Photo credit: WPT.com via Flickr