Poker is a game that requires 100% mental fortitude at all times. The scary thing about that is that everything could be going swimmingly for hours, for days, and then one slip up – be it a mental lapse or an unlucky deal – could send you spiraling. And even if that one moment doesn’t send you to the rail, it could disrupt your focus and do you in. Such could have been the case for Taylor Black last night at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Five Diamond World Poker Classic, but he kept his wits about him, stayed the course, and went from riches to rags to riches to win the whole thing.

Going into Sunday’s six-handed final table, Black was in as dominant of a position as anyone can be at the end of a major tournament. With 17 million chips, he had more than half the chips in play. Nobody else had even 5 million. He could double-up his closest competitor twice and barely lose the chip lead. The tournament was Black’s to lose…which is what almost happened.

Playing out at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor, the final table went largely as Black had planned until it got to four-handed. The other three players had already narrowed the gap on Black, but he still had about a 5 million-chip lead. Gianluca Speranza raised pre-flop to 400,000, after which Black moved all-in with A-J offsuit. Speranza made a quick call with A-K offsuit, all the community cards were low, and Esperanza doubled through Black to take the chip lead.

Black sunk from there, eventually watching his stack dwindle to only about 4 million, while Speranza had over 10 million and Lorenzo Lavis had over 9 million. From the penthouse to the outhouse.

But just as one can sink quickly in a poker tournament, so can one rise. Taylor Black remained patient, eventually returning the favor and doubling-up through Esperanza to push his stack back above 10 million. That was all Black needed, as he didn’t look back. He went into heads-up play against Vik Shegal with a hefty 19.150 million to 9.475 million lead and though Shegal hung tough, he just couldn’t get over the hump.

On the final hand, Black raised to 500,000 and Shegal moved all-in for 7.575 million. Black made the call with A-K, dominating Shegal’s A-8. The flop produced a King, all but sealing the deal for Black. The turn and river confirmed it and Taylor Black had his first World Poker Tour title along with more than $1.2 million in prize money.

World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic – Final Table Results

  1. Taylor Black – $1,241,430
  2. Vik Shegal – $827,620
  3. Gianluca Speranza – $609,960
  4. Lorenzo Lavis – $454,590
  5. Mohsin Charania – $342,645
  6. David Kim – $261,235

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