As the 2019 World Series of Poker was beginning, Season XVII of the World Poker Tour was ending and it all came to a head early this week when Ole Schemion won the Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Not that my opinion means anything, especially since I could never dream to put up the kind of money it takes to be in one of these events (nor do I have the poker skill to compete), but I’ve always had mixed feelings about the WPT season-ender since it was changed from an open event to an invitational. It is definitely cool to know that the field is stacked to the brim with poker monsters, but having the big buy-in event to end the season available to anyone just felt good to me.

At any rate, it is an invitational now. Every winner of a WPT Main Event from this season had a free seat (though, as Earl Burton mentioned the other day, it wasn’t really free as much as the $15,000 buy-in was taken from their first place winnings), while any previous season WPT champ could pay the $15,000 to enter. $100,000 was added to the prize pool and the winner (Schemion, in this case), also took home a bunch of sponsored prizes and an extra $50,000 in addition to the first place prize money.

A total of 76 players entered the WPT Tournament of Champions. The prize pool was $1,290,000, with the top ten finishers getting paid and Schemion cashing in for $440,395. He had a gigantic chip lead going into the six-handed final table on Monday, holding 1,871,000 chips. His closest competitor was Ryan Tosoc, who had just 549,000. Schemion had nearly as many chips as the rest of the players combined.

Schemion didn’t really find a groove for a while at the final table. He led for most of the first 90 hands or so, though I can’t say he led for all of them with complete certainty, as both Tosoc and Tony Dunst made run and him and may have grabbed the led for a couple hands. When level 20 began with four players remaining, Schemion ran into trouble, doubling-up Tosoc and failing below 700,000 chips. Soon, he had less than half the stacks of both Tosoc and Dunst.

On the 101st hand of the final table, Schemion was able to eliminate Simon Lam in fourth place to get back to about 800,000 and dozen hands later, returned the double-up favor to Tosoc, growing his stack past 1.4 million. At the beginning of level 21, the stacks were close to even, with Tosoc and Schemion in a virtual tie at 1.3 million-plus and Dunst at about 1 million.

Dunst took the lead on Hand 138, dropping Schemion under a million, but Schemion got back to 1.4 million a few hands later at the expense of Tosoc. Tosoc soon ran into trouble and was eventually knocked out in third place by Schemion on hand 153. Both players picked up heart flush draws on the flop and ended up all-in. Schemion had the better flush draw, but Tosoc had a straight draw and live cards. He couldn’t hit any and was out in third.

Going into heads-up, Schemion had the lead on Dunst, 2.105 million to 1.695 million. The match stayed tight for a while, but Schemion eventually extended his lead to more than a million chips. On the 170th and final hand, Schemion raised pre-flop to 60,000 and Dunst three-bet to 250,000. Schemion called to bring on a flop of T♠-J♥-K♥. Dunst checked, Schemion bet 200,000, and Dunst called. The 4♠ on the turn resulted in another check from Dunst, but then a check-raise all-in when Schemion bet 420,000.

Schemion called and showed Q♠-9♠ to Dunst’s K♣-5♦. Schemion had flopped a straight and had a flush draw to boot; Dunst was dead in the water and Ole Schemion was the champion.

World Poker Tour Season XVII Tournament of Champions – Final Table Results

  1. Ole Schemion – $440,395
  2. Tony Dunst – $250,265
  3. Ryan Tosoc – $166,845
  4. Simon Lam – $115,945
  5. Griffin Paul – $84,140
  6. Nick Schulman – $63,890

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