Tony Ruberto came inches away from a World Poker Tour title in August (does that even make sense?), finishing fourth in the WPT Choctaw Main Event. There are people in this world who have made a final table in a major event, only to neve return, so you never know what’s going to happen. Like Dan Marino making a Super Bowl early in his career and never making it back. But Ruberto made the final table of the WPT Maryland at Live! Casino Main Event this week and made it all the way, winning the tournament and more than a half million dollars.
This is Ruberto’s second World Poker Tour victory; he won the WPT Jacksonville Main Event back in 2011.
“It feels really good,” he told WPT.com after his triumph. “I won seven years ago and the play has changed really dramatically since then. It’s difficult to win nowadays because everyone is just a lot better. It’s not how it was about eight or 10 years ago. It feels really good to win.”
Ruberto began the final table second in chips, about a million behind Will Givens. On the tenth hand of the day, he eliminated Mark Sandness to get near the chip lead, which Shankar Pillai had already taken over after a big hand against Givens.
On Hand 43, Ruberto continued to do damage, knocking out Aaron Pinson in fifth place. The two were all-in pre-flop, Ruberto with Jacks and Pinsin with Sevens. The Jacks held (clearly) and Ruberto was up to 7.900 million chips. He grabbed a large pot from Pillai later to move up to 10.600 million and take control of the table.
Pillai himself eliminated Givens on Hand 63 when his Eights held against Givens’ A-K, all-in pre-flop.
For a while after that, it was the Ruberto and Pillai show, as they pulled away from Jeremy Ausmus, but it soon became just the Tony Ruberto show. He just rolled over his two opponents until finally sending Ausmus to the rail in third place (it took a little luck – Ruberto’s 8-5 beat Ausmus’ Nines, though the money didn’t get in until Ruberto hit two pair on the turn). Going into heads-up play, Ruberto had a massive lead on Pillai, 18.125 million to 4.050 million.
In these situations, I often say that it looked like the huge chip leader was going to run away with it only to have the short stack make a run, and that’s exactly what happened. Pillai quickly doubled-up and then kept the heat on, winning another big hand a short time later to take the chip lead, 13.200 million to 9.000 million. As happens in poker, Ruberto soon regained the lead and then it was a dogfight. The stacks were virtually even at one point as the two went back and forth, neither being able to put it away for quite some time.
Of course, Ruberto finally did it. On Hand 179, Pillai raised pre-flop with A-9 and Ruberto called with T-7 of diamonds. The flop was J♥-5♦-A♦ and the two ended up with their chips in the middle, Ruberto with a flush draw and Pillai with top pair. The turn was of no help to either, but the river was the 9♦, giving Ruberto his flush and his second WPT title.
2018 World Poker Tour Maryland at Live! Casino Main Event – Final Table Results
1. Tony Ruberto – $344,755
2. Shankar Pillai – $220,780
3. Jeremy Ausmus – $162,597
4. Will Givens – $121,112
5. Aaron Pinson – $91,230
6. Mark Sandness – $69,609