The World Poker Tour held its penultimate stop of the 2023 tournament poker season last night, the final table of the 2023 WPT Seminole Rock n’ Roll Poker Open Main Event in Hollywood, FL. In what was a brisk 100-plus hands, Istvan Briski emerged victorious over Rayan Chamas to claim his first major championship. In winning that title, Briski will also earn his way to the 2023 WPT World Championship going on in a couple of weeks at Wynn Las Vegas to battle with some of poker’s greatest players.
Helps to Start with the Lead
To be honest, Briski started with the advantage over his other five combatants. He was the chip leader at the start of the final table action on Wednesday, sitting on a stack of 23.975 million in chips. The closest competitor to him was Sandy Sanchez, who had a decent 15.05 million of his own. Fred Goldberg (13.325 million) and Chamas (11 million) were also going to be strong opponents, while WPT champion Darryll Fish (4.625 million) and Matt Bond (4.35 million) were going to have to make a move early to have any impact on the outcome.
On the very first hand of action, Bond did just that. On a 10-8-3 flop, he committed his stack with just Big Slick, but it was enough to top Briski’s Big Chick as Bond doubled up to nine million in chips. Chamas also bit a chunk out of Briski’s stack when he rivered a Jack on Hand #3. Just like that, Briski was back in the pack and the battle was on.
For more than thirty hands, the six men vied for position before Briski reasserted himself. After Fish moved all in from the small blind, Briski took a brief look at his cards and immediately called. Briski’s pocket Kings were vastly outpacing Fish’s Q-7 and a King on the flop gave Briski a set. Fish, who paired his seven on the flop, would pair the Queen on the turn, but that would be the extent of the help as he departed the table in sixth place.
…But Nothing Comes Without Adversity
It wasn’t all sunshine for Briski, however. After Goldberg took out Bond in fifth place, Briski would make a few missteps to fall to only nine million chips. Briski would rebound, though, doubling up through Chamas with pocket Aces against Chamas’ Q-J on a seven-high board. From there, Briski was unstoppable.
Goldberg was first to go, with Briski using pocket Jacks against Goldberg’s A-2 to knock off Goldberg in fourth. Chamas would take the lead going to heads up after eliminating Sanchez in third, but Briski picked up a massive pot that would change the course of the tournament.
After a Chamas raise, Briski three-bet the action to 5.7 million and Chamas called to see an A-10-J flop. Both men checked their options to a second Jack on the turn, which brought a bet out of Briski and a call from Chamas. A five on the river saw Briski move all in and Chamas, after some contemplation, made the call. Chamas showed an A-5 for two pair, but Briski held J-4 for trip Jacks to take the hand. Now up over 5:1, Briski made quick work of Chamas. On the final hand, Chamas was the aggressor with an all-in move and a call from Briski. Chamas was in tough shape with his steal attempt with a 10-8, while Briski held the pre-flop edge with his Q-4. A 2-7-A flop, and a King on the turn, kept Briski in the lead. Once a five came on the river, the hand and the championship of the WPT Seminole Rock n’ Roll Poker Open went to Briski.
1. Istvan Briski, $647,300
2. Rayan Chamas, $600,000
3. Sandy Sanchez, $366,500
4. Fred Goldberg, $274,000
5. Matt Bond, $206,900
6. Darryll Fish, $157,800
With the completion of the WPT Seminole Rock n’ Roll Poker Open, the WPT caravan traverses the U. S. to go to Wynn Las Vegas for the World Championship. If you’ve been hiding of late, then you might have missed the fact that there is a $40 million guarantee on this tournament, which will feature all the champions from the 2023 WPT season. Briski will be joining that group, looking to etch his name not only on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup (for a second time) but also to claim the WPT World Championship.
(Photo courtesy of the WPT)