Final Table Set At WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, Andy Hwang Atop The Final Six

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The WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open has reached its penultimate day in Atlantic City, playing down to its final table early Friday morning with Andy Hwang in the lead but a former WPT champion lurking among the final six players.

Hwang held the lead as the 28 remaining players ventured back into the Borgata to battle it out for the final table. Hwang’s 3.039 million in chips gave him a decent lead over his two closest competitors, Jeremy Druckman (2.539 million) and Samuel Taylor (2.39 million), while veteran New Jersey pro Chris Reslock, defending WPT Player of the Year Joe Serock, Taylor Paur, “Grindette” Jamie Kerstetter and defending WPT Grand Prix de Paris champion Matt Salsberg were arranged behind those three men.

The players wasted little time in knocking off their first player. Barely five minutes in, Matthew Diehl pushed his 450K stack into the center after a three bet from Mark Sykes, who called. Diehl unveiled a strong pair of Queens in his hole cards, while Sykes surprisingly could only muster an A-Q. It was good enough, however, as the flop brought the Ace he needed to take the lead. It would hold up through the river, eliminating Diehl in 28th place and pushing Sykes over the million chip mark.

Sykes’ good fortune would continue a few hands later. Just after tripling up, Mark Wahba once again found his tournament existence in danger against Sykes and Hwang but, after an A-J-9 flop, Hwang sent his cards to the muck to leave it up to Sykes and Wahba. Wahba turned over an A-Q for top pair, but Sykes had done him one better with his A-J for Aces up. Once the board failed to bring another Queen, Wahba was out the door.

Reslock would head for the exits at the Borgata after an intriguing hand against Joe DiMartino and Mike Shklover. After a bet from Shklover and an all in three bet out of DiMartino, Reslock cast his 500K in chips to the center only to see Shklover come along. The hands revealed were straight out of a bad poker movie: Reslock’s A-K was ahead of DiMartino’s A-J but way behind Shklover’s pocket Aces. Carrying the “bad poker movie” theme one step further, the board ran K-Q-9-10-3, giving the worst hand pre-flop (DiMartino’s A-J) the main pot between the three players, Shklover picked up the side pot and Reslock took home the 26th place money ($14,933).

By the time the first break of the day came, 24 players were remaining over the three tables in the Borgata. Shklover pocket tens would fall to Jeremy Stein’s A-J after a cruel Ace on the river to eliminate him in 24th place; Shklover would be joined over the next hour by Nathan Tuthill and Kerstetter, eliminating the final female from the tournament.

Over the next twelve hours, the players worked their way towards the final table. Hwang led the field for much of the day and, once the unofficial ten handed final table was determined, was in a dominant position (9.51 million) over Druckman (3.44 million). While Hwang maintained his stack as the battle reached the early morning hours, Druckman would be the big mover. He picked up a 2.6 million chip pot against Jim Anderson and knocked off Jeremy Stein in eighth place (after his K-Q ran down Stein’s A-Q) before the final hand of the night determined the combatants for today’s action.

On the final hand, Matt Haugen raised and Hwang called, but Cuong Phung found a hand and pushed all in for about one million in chips. Haugen moved all in “over the top” of Phung’s hand and Hwang decided to drop his attempt. Phung held the lead pre flop with his pocket tens over Haugen’s A-K, but the K-4-5 flop changed that. Neither of Phung’s two outs would come on the turn or river, setting up this final table for today:

Seat 1: Jeremy Druckman, 6.17 million
Seat 2: Matt Salsberg, 1.92 million
Seat 3: Matt Haugen, 3.235 million
Seat 4: Jim Anderson, 7.83 million
Seat 5: Mike Gogliormella, 2.255 million
Seat 6: Andy Hwang, 9.55 million

As you can see, it is a case of the “haves” and the “have nots.” Hwang and Anderson are in the best positions while the remainder of the table is all below 30bbs. Salsberg may be the player to watch here, however. The defending champion of the WPT Grand Prix de Paris, Salsberg will look for an opportunity to join an exclusive club – multiple time WPT champions – but he’ll have to find that opportunity pretty quickly.

The final table of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open will not be a part of the Season XI television schedule, but it will be streamed on a 30 minute delay this afternoon over the WPT website ( Beginning at 1PM (Eastern Time), the action from the Borgata will hit the internet as the champion is decided, with that fortunate man walking off with the $730,053 first place prize, his name on the WPT Champions’ Cup and a seat for this year’s WPT Championship in Las Vegas.

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