Back for its second run despite less than stellar numbers from 2018, the “made for streaming” event known as the U. S. Poker Open has opened up play. Streaming over PokerGO, the first two events are in the books, with the numbers showing improvement as Stephen Chidwick and Jordan Cristos walked away with the gold.
USPO Event #1 – $10,000 No Limit Hold’em
A total of 90 entries were received for the first of the high-dollar events on the U. S. Poker Open schedule and the final table was replete with talent. Joseph Cheong held the start of day lead on Thursday as Lazaro Hernandez, Chidwick, Joseph Orsino, Joseph Cappello and Sean Winter filled out the other seats. The men wasted little time getting to business, with the first knockout coming only a few hands into the day’s play.
Although he would give a big chunk of chips to Hernandez, Cheong still had enough firepower to administer the first knockout of the day. After raising with an A-10 off suit, Cheong saw Orsino defend off the big blind with a Q-10 and the duo saw an A-Q-10. With both hitting two pair, it was inevitable that the chips would hit the center and they did. When Orsino didn’t get another Queen to save him, he was out of the tournament in sixth place.
Hernandez attempted to be the table sheriff, but it would eventually cause him to lose the lead to the eventual champion. Hernandez limped from the button with an A-9 and Chidwick, inaccurately sensing weakness, pushed the betting up with his 10-9 of hearts. Hernandez, utilizing his position, made it 650K to go and Chidwick made the call. The 8-7-6 flopped the world for Chidwick, who checked his straight and, after Hernandez moved all in, called off his stack. Needing a ten to split the pot, Hernandez instead saw a King and an Ace complete the board as he shipped all but 700K of his chips to Chidwick, who took the lead and never looked back.
Sitting on nearly six million chips, Chidwick absolutely decimated the table from that point. He eliminated the four competitors remaining on his way to his third win in the USPO and sets his sights on defense of his overall championship in the inaugural USPO last year.
1. Stephen Chidwick, $216,000
2. Sean Winter, $157,500
3. Joseph Cheong, $112,500
4. Joseph Cappello, $90,000
5. Lazaro Hernandez, $72,000
6. Joseph Orsino, $54,000
USPO Event #2 – $10,00 Pot Limit Omaha
In a rapid four-hour final table, Jordan Cristos rode his start of day chip lead to the championship in Event #2, with his heads-up battle against Manig Loeser the highlight of the tournament.
Cristos’ lead was a dominant one at the start of play. Holding 2.445 million chips from the 50-entry starting field, he had nearly a million more markers than Cary Katz (1.525 million) and nearly doubled Loeser (1.295 million). Rounding out the final table were Martin Zamani (1.18 million), Adam Hendrix (900,000) and Sean Winter (760,000 and making his second final table of the 2019 USPO), who were facing an uphill battle in the frenetic game that is Pot Limit Omaha.
How frenetic, you might ask? It took a grand total of four hours for Cristos to take down the title. He knocked out Winter (who finished second to Chidwick in Event #1) in sixth, Katz in fifth and Hendrix in fourth in an hour and, after he dispatched Zamani in third, held nearly a 3:1 lead over Loeser. It was at that point the real battle began.
Loeser didn’t roll over and let Cristos steamroll to the title. Within the first hour of heads up play, Loeser would surge to the lead and flip-flop the situation with Cristos. After that hour, however, Cristos fought his way back into the match as the twosome would see-saw back and forth with no man able to take a definitive advantage.
The final hand would show the volatility of Omaha Hold’em. Cristos, holding a K♣ 9♠ 6♥ 5♣, potted and Loeser defended his big blind with Q♦ 10♣ 7♦ 4♣. The Q♣ 5x 7♣ flop hit Loeser good (two pair), but Cristos actually held the advantage with plenty of redraws that would defeat Loeser (better flush draw, over card King to a better two pair, two fives). One of those would hit on the turn, the K♠, to push Cristos into the lead. Sweating the river, the 8♠ did nothing to help Loeser as Cristos took the PLO championship.
1. Jordan Cristos, $179,200
2. Manig Loeser, $128,000
3. Martin Zamani, $83,200
4. Adam Hendrix, $64,000
5. Cary Katz, $51,200
6. Sean Winter, $38,400
Action at USPO to Continue Through the Week
The action at the 2019 U. S. Poker Open is set to play through the week. Event #3, another $10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, will have its final table today with Chidwick holding the chip lead again over Winter (AGAIN) and Koray Aldemir. Set for play over the next week is a $10,000 “Short Deck” Hold’em tournament and several $25,000 events. The climax will come next Thursday with the start of the $50,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament and, on Friday, with the $100,000 Main Event. Will the numbers continue to run well for the second running of the U. S. Poker Open? We’ll have to keep watch, either on these pages or on PokerGO, to learn the rest of the story.