Shawn Cunix Continues Charge, Leads WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Final Table

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The final table is set for the World Poker Tour’s Borgata Winter Poker Open final table in Atlantic City this afternoon as Shawn Cunix continued his charge towards potentially his second WPT championship.

Three tables (27 players) returned to action on Thursday, looking to work their way down to the six fortunate individuals who would comprise the final table. Cunix, who had battered the opposition in coming to Day 4 play as the chip leader, wasted little time in continuing to beat up on the opposition. Only a few hands into the day’s action, Cunix would raise the pot and Loni Harwood would push back with an all-in move. Cunix immediately made the call, tabling pocket eights against Harwood’s A-Q off suit, and the board fell Jack-high to send Harwood to the exits of the Borgata in 25th place and send Cunix’ chip stack north of four million.

The news wasn’t as good for another player who was looking to take down his second WPT title. James Calderaro came to the Day 4 play decently stacked in fourth place, but he could never find any traction through the early hours of play. Calderaro would double up Barry Leventhal in a cooler (Leventhal’s pocket Aces against Calderaro’s pocket Kings) and, on the very next hand, another sizeable portion of Calderaro’s stack slid to Casey Yontz when Calderaro couldn’t find a call against a Yontz all-in on a K-Q-7-4 flop and turn. Calderaro’s end would come against Eugene Todd when, holding A-10 against Todd’s pocket Jacks, a Q-J-10 flop brought some hope, but a trey and a deuce smashed them. For his week of effort, Calderaro walked off with $14,879 for his 22nd place finish.

Cunix was one of the two stories of the day, however, as it seemed he never made a bad move. He approached the five million chip mark in defeating Joshua Lawson in a hand, then crushed the six million mark after rivering a club flush against Justin Liberto’s turned trips. After battling against Kevin Calenzo, Cunix closed in on eight million chips and was the massive chip leader in the tournament.

The other story of the Day 4 action was Esther Taylor-Brady. Taylor-Brady, the wife of fellow poker professional Matt Brady, yo-yoed her stack through the entirety of Thursday’s action. At one point, Taylor-Brady sat with only about 10 big blinds left, but she went on a late afternoon/early evening tear that saw her become a force on the tables. By the time the action closed for the evening, Taylor-Brady had put herself into the final table fray with a healthy 4.02 million stack.

Todd would also get himself into position for a championship run, eliminating Philippe Belley in eighth place and Yontz in seventh place to set up today’s final table lineup:

1. Shawn Cunix, 8.88 million
2. Aaron Mermelstein, 7.16 million
3. Eugene Todd, 5.15 million
4. Esther Taylor-Brady, 4.02 million
5. Justin Liberto, 2.5 million
6. Randy Pfeifer, 1.985 million

Cunix isn’t a lock for taking down his second WPT championship, however. He’ll have position on Todd (small blind) and Liberto (big blind) when he has the button, but he will have to contend with Mermelstein on the button when he has the big blind (Pfeifer is in a difficult spot, sandwiched between the top two stacks in Seat 3). After her adventures on Thursday, Taylor-Brady can’t be overlooked either as she strives to become the first female player to win an open event on the international WPT stage.

The final six will step back to the felt this afternoon at 3PM (Eastern Time) with the cameras for the WPT trained on them for broadcast later this year. Of more importance for these six contenders is the healthy first place prize of $712,305 and the various accoutrements that come with being a WPT champion.

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