In what was one of the stranger final tables in the history of the World Poker Tour, Dongwoo Ko didn’t let anything affect him. Despite a pause in the middle of the tournament (more on that in a moment), Ko dominated from the start of the 2024 WPT Montreal final table to the end, capturing the title at the Playground Poker Club. With the victory, Ko etches his name on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions’ Cup and picks up a seat at the 2024 WPT World Championship at the end of the year.

Easy When You Start at the Front

It is always easier to win a poker tournament – or any sporting endeavor – when you start at the head of the pack. That was the case for Ko on Wednesday night as he came to the WPT Montreal final table holding 15.1 million of the chips in play. The closest competitor was Tommy Nguyen, who had roughly two-thirds of that stack (11.725 million) and was honestly the only challenger that Ko had. The remainder of the field – Tamer Alkamli (5.575 million), Rayan Chamas (5.225 million), Dan Stavila (3.775 million), and Charles Kassin (2.7 million) – were going to have to make the long run if they were going to put their names into the mix.

Ko came out of the gates playing a power poker game, winning four of the first ten hands that were dealt to extend his lead. That inspired Nguyen, who dismissed Kassin from the final table after his pocket Kings stood tall against Kassin’s pocket Queens. In winning that hand, Nguyen temporarily took over the lead at the final table…at least until the next hand, when Ko ushered Alkamli out after Ko turned a King to go with his Big Slick and defeat Alkamli’s pocket Queens.

That lead would become even larger moments later. Ko popped the betting to 300K from the cutoff and, in the big blind, Chamas moved all in for 1.95 million. Ko considered the positions and his history with Chamas, tossing a Time Bank chip to the dealer, before making what turned out to be the correct call.

Ko’s A-9 off suit wasn’t very impressive, but Chamas’ bold move with a K-7 off suit was looking to hit to stay alive. The board would come ten-high and blood red, improving neither player and earning Ko the checkmark for the win and the knockout. As Chamas walked away from the Playground Poker Club final table, Ko stacked up his 23.75 million chips and seemed invincible.

Then…the going got weird…

Two Thunderbolts, Then a Pause

As the threesome of Ko, Nguyen, and Stavila settled back into their seats, the first thunderbolt hit the WPT Montreal. The two chip leaders, Ko and Nguyen, decided to mix it up on a Q-9-4-2-7 board which saw Nguyen use three Time Bank chips after Ko fired a massive 6.8 million chip bet on the river. Nguyen read the story right; Ko was on a complete bluff with only a J-8 for battle, making Nguyen’s A-Q good and sending a 25 million chip pot and the lead over to Nguyen.

A couple of hours later, the second thunderbolt would strike. A strong thunderstorm was in the Quebec area, with the resulting turbulence causing a power surge that completely knocked out the lighting at the Playground Poker Club. The resulting 90-minute downtime allowed for the three players – Ko, who had worked back to the lead (17.2 million), Nguyen (13.825 million), and a resilient Stavila (13.075 million – to gather their thoughts and discuss with their rails some of the action from the live stream of the tournament. Once the power came back, Ko got his own game back online and went on a rush.

Ko knocked Nguyen down to only 3.6 million chips when he flopped a six-high straight against Nguyen, and Nguyen could not recover. He did, however, survive two all-ins by earning a chop of the pot, first when the board held a flush and the second when the board came down with a boat. The third time, Ko was able to take Nguyen down in third place after Ko’s A-10 flopped trip tens and Nguyen’s Q-3 flopped absolutely nothing.

Going to heads-up play, Ko held a comfortable lead (26.775 million) over Stavila (17.325 million), and he wouldn’t take his foot off the gas. Stavila would take the first four small pots, but Ko would wipe out those gains by winning one hand. The same situation ran again – Stavila winning small pots, Ko winning an equalizer – until the final hand came on Hand #192.

Ko limped in for 500K, and Stavila put him to the test with a raise to 1.8 million. Ko made the call and the 10-8-2 flop came. Both players checked their options to see a nine on the turn, which presented three clubs for a potential flush. Stavila check-called a bet from Ko, and a seemingly innocent trey came on the river. Once again Stavila checked but, after Ko fired a 7.2 million bet, Stavila moved all in over the top to put the pressure on Ko.

As it turned out, there was no pressure for Ko. He immediately made the call and did not seem shocked when Stavila turned up a Q♣ 6♣ for the Queen-high flush. Ko calmly showed down his K♣ 3♣ for the better flush to take the pot and the championship of the 2024 WPT Montreal:

1. Dongwoo ‘David’ Ko, $434,900 (Canadian, $319,217 U. S.)
2. Dan Stavila, $280,000 ($205,520)
3. Tommy Nguyen, $205,000 ($150,470)
4. Rayan Chamas, $155,000 ($113,770)
5. Tamer Alkamli, $117,000 ($85,878)
6. Charles Kassin, $89,000 ($65,326)

(Photo courtesy of World Poker Tour)

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