After two days of battle with 18 extraordinarily difficult competitors, the inaugural Wynn Millions came down to three men. They decided to make a deal between each other, guaranteeing each a million-dollar payday, but saved a little back to play for along with the trophy. In the end, it was Andrew Moreno who emerged as the overall winner of the tournament, booking an “on paper” $2 million-plus payday that became a little bit smaller after the deal was brokered.
Friday’s Action Sets Final Table
The final 18 men came to the felt on Friday with one thing in mind – getting to the final table of the 2021 Wynn Millions (writer’s note: this writer inadvertently stated the tournament would end Friday…I was mistaken!). Leading the way on Friday was World Series of Poker bracelet winner Clayton Maguire, but there were a host of challenging opponents arranged behind him. In particular, popular British pro Toby Lewis, a short-stacked Joe Kuether and Moreno were the threats, with each of those players driving to the final table.
Kuether was perhaps the most impressive player of the action on Friday. Coming off of only 825K in chips, Kuether jumped over the million-chip mark in turning a straight against Santiago Soriano early in the day’s play. He would surge to nearly three million in chips after doubling up with pocket Jacks against Phillip Shing’s pocket eights and continue to roll throughout the day.
Maguire also was impressive in his play on Friday. Although he would double up Valentyn Shabelynk to relinquish the lead momentarily, Maguire would knock out Ilyas Muradi in 14th place and Jesse Yaginuma in eleventh place to take his lead back. By the time that France’s Julian Millard-Feral took down Soriano on the final table bubble in 10th place, Maguire found himself in a familiar position for this tournament – at the top of the leaderboard.
1. Clayton Maguire, 11.925 million
2. Julian Millard-Feral, 8.35 million
3. Salim Admon, 7.72 million
4. Jaime Cervantes, 7.575 million
5. Toby Lewis, 4.98 million
6. Joe Kuether, 4.42 million
7. Andrew Moreno, 2.285 million
8. Phillip Shing, 2.74 million
9. Lion Yiming Lee, 2.695 million
Cautious Play with over $6 Million On the Line
Saturday’s penultimate day of the tournament started out rather tenuous, to be expected with more than half of the overall prize pool being divvied up among the remaining nine men. Everyone was in position to get a minimum of $202,765 for their efforts, but they all had their eyes on the $2,018,866 first place check for the eventual champion. Thus, the men approached the early action with a great deal of caution.
It would take over 50 hands of action before there would be a departure from the Wynn Millions final table felt, and it would come in a classic race fashion. Lee went to the races with a K-Q against the pocket sevens of Millard-Feral, only to come up short and exit in ninth place. About 25 hands later, Kuether would face the same fate after making a “battle of the blinds” bluff off the small blind with a Q-4; Cervantes would look him up from the big blind with an A-7 that was good enough for the win and the elimination.
The victory over Kuether was not enough to keep Cervantes around, however, losing those newfound chips to Lewis in a pocket Queens versus “Big Slick” battle that saw Lewis’ A-K catch Cervantes’ ladies. Lewis wasn’t done yet, taking out Shing in sixth place in another blind battle, with Lewis’ K-8 standing to Shing’s J-9. Even down to five players, however, Maguire was in the driver’s seat as he held two times the chips of both Lewis and Admon, while Moreno and Millard-Feral took up the rear of the train.
Moreno Begins His Charge
At this point, Moreno began to make his run at the title. He was abetted by a monster collision between him and Admon, with Moreno holding pocket Queens and Admon holding the lesser in pocket nines. Once the board ran out with no consequences, Moreno had eliminated Admon in fourth place and he, Lewis and Maguire were all sitting with about the same number of chips.
Deal brokering began at this point, with the three men quite happy to take over a million dollars each through the ICM chop. They did keep a little something on the table, another $313,000 for the eventual champion and a sweetener of $100,907 to the second-place finisher. With everyone set for their money, the trio played on to determine the champion.
Lewis was the first to go at the hands of the chip leader Maguire, a race situation that saw Maguire river a King to defeat Lewis’ pocket treys. It was anyone’s match, however, in heads up, as Maguire held a nine million chip lead over Moreno. The duo would parry for about a half hour until the hand that decided the match was dealt.
Limping from the button, Moreno saw Maguire power in a raise. Moreno would three bet the action to 5.4 million and Maguire would move all in over the top. After some posturing, Moreno made the call, and the cards went to their backs. It turned out to be an extremely dramatic hand.
Moreno had chosen the wrong moment to make his stand, his A-10 vastly outclassed by Maguire’s A-Q, but the “poker gods” had other ideas and a sense of humor. A K-10-7 flop gave Moreno the lead, but it also gave Maguire outs to a straight with a Jack. The turn was uneventful (a deuce), but the paint on the river drew some interest. It was a King, however, to give Moreno a fortunate two pair over the Ace high of Maguire and the chip lead.
Five hands later, it was over. Maguire once again got his chips in with the best of it, his Big Slick over Moreno’s Big Chick, and each caught on the K-3-Q flop. A second Queen on the turn, however, pushed Moreno to the lead. Needing to only dodge a pairing King on the board, Moreno saw an 8♦ complete the festivities and crown him the champion of the inaugural Wynn Millions.
1. Andrew Moreno, $1,460,106*
2. Clayton Maguire, $1,443,757*
3. Toby Lewis, $1,235,204*
4. Salim Admon, $619,160
5. Julian Millard-Feral, $456,629
6. Phillip Shing, $360,140
7. Jaime Cervantes, $289,361
8. Joe Kuether, $240,302
9. Lion Yiming Lee, $202,765
(* – indicates three-way deal)
With that, the first Wynn Millions is in the books. It would be great to see this tournament become a yearly event, but there has been no word from Wynn officials if it will become a staple of the poker tournament schedule. The 2021 Wynn Millions came about mainly because the WSOP was moved to the fall, opening up some room for a large buy-in event on many poker players’ schedules. It is apparent, at least in 2021, that the poker community wanted the Wynn Millions – whether they will get it in the future is left to be seen.