Veerab Zakarian won the 2020 World Poker Tour (WPT) Borgata Winter Poker Open Sunday night, claiming a first prize of $674,840. If it sounds weird that he won a 2020 tournament nearly halfway through 2021, that’s ok. It is weird. The hopefully never-to-be-seen-again confluence of events that created the odd name/calendar pairing were the planned delayed WPT final table and the unplanned COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, because of vaccinations, things are looking up, so hopefully poker – and our lives – are getting back on track.
The WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open paused at the end of January of last year, as scheduled, when the final table was determined. The plan was for the final table members to meet a the HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas inside the Luxor two months later finish things, but the pandemic shut everything down in mid-March. Live poker has finally returned in the U.S., and thus so have the delayed final tables. The 2020 World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Championship finished up about two months ago and now it was the Borgata Winter Poker Open’s turn. The third postponed final table, the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, is taking place right now.
But back to Mr. Zakarian, who just won his first WPT title, his first major poker title of any kind, and by far his largest cash. The victory put his career live tournament earnings just over the $1 million mark.
Zakarian was the chip leader headed into the day, but all eyes were on Brian Altman, who was going for his third career World Poker Tour title and who had already wrapped up the Season XVIII Player of the Year crown. And though Altman fell in third place, he still got a consolation prize of the POY trophy, presented to him Sunday night.
Not that he had any choice, but having this tournament waiting for him this year seemed to help Zakarian mentally during the pandemic.
“Waiting this long, you didn’t know what to expect,” Zakarian told WPT.com afterward. “You don’t know, you keep waiting for it. Most people, after the pandemic, didn’t have anything to look forward to so I was glad to have something to look forward to.”
Zakarian, from Toronto, has a fondness for the World Poker Tour and feels especially happy to have won a title at the Borgata.
“Everyone always wants the bracelet, but these days it looks like the WPT is what everyone is chasing,” he said. “The bracelets – there’s so many of them. But the WPT is special, especially Borgata. When you think of poker on the East Coast, the first thing you think of is Borgata and winning something like this.”
With live poker conditions starting to get safer, Zakarian said he looks forward to being busier on the felt. He is considering participating in WPTDeepStacks Venetian in July and/or the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Tampa in June. What he really wants, though, is something out east, like another WPT event at Borgata or up in Fallsview. For now, though, he will revel in his achievement.
2020 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open – Final Table Results
- Veerab Zakarian – $674,840
- James Anderson – $449,904
- Brian Altman – $333,012
- Nathan Russler – $248,913
- Bin Weng – $187,900
- Andrew Hanna – $143,264