Season XIV of the World Poker Tour (WPT) wrapped up Sunday after a busy couple weeks at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. With three major WPT events – the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale, and the WPT Tournament of Champions – strung together, it made for quite an exciting stretch of poker. The WPT Tournament of Champions concluded yesterday to cap everything off as Farid Yachou outlasted the 64-player field to claim his second career WPT title.
The Tournament of Champions, as has been documented on this site, replaced the WPT World Championship as the season-ending event for the World Poker Tour. Attendance at the WPT World Championship had been declining over the years, so the WPT decided it was time to mix it up. It had already moved the event from the Bellagio in Las Vegas to the Borgata in Atlantic City in 2014 and dropped the buy-in from $25,000 to $15,000. Attendance was helped because of the lower buy-in (and perhaps the east coast location), but the interest and glamour wasn’t really there anymore.
Thus, the WPT made the radical change, moving the event to Florida, renaming it, and restricting it to players who had won a WPT title. Those who won one this season were awarded a free seat; all other past champions had to pay $15,000 to enter. Only 64 players entered, which is much, much lower than even the previous low, but perhaps the WPT doesn’t mind that, as it will “truly be a championship event,” as WPT President and CEO Adam Pliska said when the change was first announced.
Farid Yachou had qualified for the WPT Tournament of Champions by winning WPT Amsterdam last year, the second event of Season XIV. This is the only other recorded cash he has on TheHendonMob.com and it allowed him to gain a free entry into the season-ending tourney.
That $15,000 entry was quite the incentive for Yachou to make the trip across the pond from the Netherlands, as according to the post-game release by the WPT, he is extremely scared of flying. He conquered that fear, though, and made his first trip to United States just so he could play in this poker tournament. Not a bad welcome to the U-S-of-A, huh?
Yachou won a truckload of prizes, almost quite literally. In addition to the $381,600 first prize, he received 2016 Corvette courtesy of Monster (hopefully a red one – RIP Prince), a Hublot King Power Titanium watch, an Aurae Solid Gold MasterCard, a custom poker table from BBO Poker Tables, a seat in Tiger’s Poker Night (that would be Tiger Woods), and a round of golf at Shadow Creek with two friends and tournament director Matt Savage.
Of his victory, Yachou said, “It’s something I cannot believe. I am seated with only champions. I said to myself, ‘I will be glad if I finish 30th.’ Then, day by day and hand by hand it came altogether, and everything came to me.”