To say that there is a dominant leader at the final table of the World Poker Tour’s stop at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic would be like saying Michael Jordan was an OK basketball player. Taylor Black came into Day Four of the Five Diamond among the leaders and finished the day with more than half the chips in play. For Sunday’s final table, it appears it is Black’s tournament to lose as nobody is close to his 17 million chip stack.
From 29 To the Final Six
It was thought it would take a long time for the 29 players left in the WPT Five Diamond to get down to the final six, but it actually went rather quickly. Gianluca Speranza was atop the standings at the start of the day with his 2.36 million in chips, but it was Elio Fox who made the early moves. After getting Brek Schutten to call his pre-flop bet, Fox and Schutten saw a K-9-7 rainbow flop. Schutten check-called another bet from Fox and, on an Ace turn, did the same for 150K.
The river was another King, and it brought an interesting move out of Fox. After Schutten checked again, Fox fired 370K at the pot. The strange thing was he kept a sole 5000 chip back. Schutten did not believe Fox, making the call, and Fox showed a K-7 for a flopped two pair and a rivered boat. Schutten did not show as he sent the cards to the muck, sending the double up to Fox and getting the former World Series of Poker Europe Main Event champion off on the right foot on Saturday.
The news was not as good for one of the players who had spent much of the tournament at the top of the leaderboard, Matt Berkey. Berkey would get his chips to the center with an A♣ J♣, only to be looked up by Dylan Linde’s inferior K-9. It was inferior until the flop, however; A K-7-4 flop pushed Linde into the lead and, although a second club would come on the turn, Berkey would miss all of his outs to exit the Bellagio floor in 27th place ($38,390).
Berkey would have plenty of company as the afternoon wore on. Sam Panzica, Ray Quartomy, Schutten, and Aaron Massey would all be eliminated in the drive to the final two tables. Just before the final 16, however, play had ground down to a halt as players, despite the best efforts of the WPT Shot Clock, were taking a bit too long to make their decisions. Bellagio and WPT officials implemented hand-for-hand play (despite the shot clock) until Sergio Fernandez was eliminated in 17th place.
Black Turns on the Afterburners
Coming to the final 16, Black was near the bottom of the leaderboard, but he began his charge in earnest. Black got a key double-up through Jacob Ferro, rivering a full house to defeat Ferro and climb over the two million chip mark. Black’s big moment, however, would come against the then-chip leader, Pat Lyons.
After a raise from Black on the button, Lyons called out of the small blind to see a K-K-Q flop. Lyons would check call a 125K bet out of Black, but a ten on the turn lit the fireworks. Lyons check-raised Black’s 375K bet to 1.175 million, which Black calmly met with a call of his own. A river Queen made for a very intriguing board, but it also slowed down the duo as they checked.
With first action on him, Lyons showed a J-9 for the turned King-high straight, but Black had him bested. Black would turn up an A-J for the turned Broadway straight, out-pipping Lyons for the win. Black would take over the lead in the tournament, stacking the huge pot to his 6.4 million mountain, as Lyons dropped to 3.28 million in chips.
Kenney brought the unofficial final table with his elimination of Sean Ripp in tenth place, and he would also be responsible for the dismissal of the colorful Lyons. After Speranza doubled through Lyons to knock the WPT Champions’ Club member down to only 11 big blinds, Kenney would finish the job to knock Lyons out in ninth place. From there, however, it was Black dominating the final table.
Black took Kenney out on his own, but he extended it over about 20 hands of torture. He would cooler Kenney, his pocket Aces lording over Kenney’s pocket Queens, to reduce Kenny to only about a million in chips, before administering the coup de grace. That final hand, which brought the players to the official WPT final table, saw Black use pocket Aces again to crush Kenney, sending him home in seventh place and giving Black more than half the chips in play.
1. Taylor Black, 17 million
2. Gianluca Speranza, 4.625 million
3. Vikenty Shegal, 3.275 million
4. David Kim, 1.4 million
5. Mohsin Charania, 1.175 million
6. Lorenzo Lavis, 1.15 million
If there is a player that can put Black to the test, it is Speranza. He has been at the top of the standings along with Black for much of the event and he has the skills and the background for high pressure situations. The remainder of the table has their work cut out for them.
There will not be a live stream of the tournament, but it is being recorded for broadcast on Fox Sports Network for the current WPT season. Action will begin at 4PM (Pacific Time) for those who want to follow it on the WPT live blog.