In what turned out to be a marathon session, Vinicius Lima came off the start of day short stack to defeat the start of day chip leader Dave Farah, capturing the World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open championship in the process.
Farah’s Tournament to Lose
Coming to Las Vegas for the last final table of a trio this week, the WPT Borgata final table was one that many had pegged for a lengthy battle, one that was Farah’s to lose with his dominating stack (18.85 million). Farah was closely pursued by Brandon Hall’s 14.1 million chip stack, however, and WPT mainstay Daniel Buzgon held the third place slot at the start of action, with his 9.1 million stack ready to strike. Rounding out the table were Joseph Di Rosa Rojas (5.8 million), Ian O’Hara (5.1 million) and the shorty at the table, Lima (3.55 million).
The action got going quickly at the HyperX Esports Arena as it took only 11 hands for the first elimination to come down. Finding a suited Ace, O’Hara pushed all in from the button after a Hall raise. Hall wasted little time calling and, with his pocket Queens, it was off to the races. A 4-5-3 flop gave O’Hara a wheel draw along with his Ace, but a ten on the turn and a nine on the river wasn’t enough to change the outcome. Hall got even healthier in his pursuit of Farah and O’Hara hit the rail in sixth place ($154,734).
After O’Hara departed the arena, Lima began to assert himself. He would get a double up through Farah, his A-10 catching a ten against Farah’s pocket sixes, then had a singular pair of tens stand up against Di Rosa Rojas on a 10-3-Q-3-5 board. By the time the level ended, Lima had moved solidly into third place and was near 10 million in chips.
Deep Stacks = Competitive Poker
With such deep stacks, the players were able to mix it up frequently without having their stacks damaged too extensively. Farah tried to get his engines fired, but he spun his wheels through the early action. Hall eked out the lead over Farah, but both men were pursued by the resurgent Lima. It would take 115 hands of play before the next departure was issued in the tournament.
Lima had yo-yoed through the battle and, in a blind versus blind battle against Buzgon, thought he had the best in the small blind with his K-8 and pushed all in. Unfortunately for him, though Buzgon woke up with an A-9 and made his stand. The poker gods showed their fickleness in dropping a J-K-7 on the flop to push Lima to the lead. A five didn’t help anyone and the eight gave people a moment’s buzz, but then the realization that it wasn’t enough for Buzgon to top Lima’s pair of Kings. Lima suddenly was in the mix with Hall as Buzgon left in fifth place.
Farah would emerge as a challenger to Lima in doubling up through Hall. On an all-diamond 6-8-A flop, Farah check-raised a million-chip bet from Hall to three million and Hall called. Another Ace on the turn saw Farah check once again and Hall, sensing weakness, moved all in for over 12 million chips. But Farah was the one playing possum as he immediately called and turned up his Q♦ J♦ for the flopped flush against Hall’s trip Aces (A-9♦). Hall had a wealth of outs – the case Ace and any nine, eight or six – but a lowly deuce wasn’t the answer. Farah would double up to 26.5 million while Hall would sink to 3.8 million and be eliminated by Lima in fourth place a few hands later.
It would be another lengthy battle three-handed. Over 35 hands, however, Lima and Farah were able to work the stack of Di Rosa Rojas to just over six million chips. In the small blind against Lima, Di Rosa Rojas pushed all in pre-flop and, as the pot odds dictated, Lima called with any two cards. Di Rosa Rojas’ Q-4 was in tough shape against Lima’s A-6 and the 6♠ A♠ Q♠ flopped the world for Lima. Di Rosa Rojas’ was drawing extremely thin with no spades and, after a trey on the turn and a ten on the river, he was done for the tournament in third place.
Farah (34.4 million) and Lima (22.2 million) would then enter an epic heads up fight for the WPT Borgata title. Lima would even up the stacks in winning four of the first six hands of heads up play and take over the lead another three hands later. Although it would take 44 hands of combat, Lima would never relinquish the lead even though Farah was more than game for the fight.
On the penultimate hand (Hand #236), Farah pushed his stack all in and Lima was more than happy to dance. Farah’s 9-5 was perhaps a questionable push, but Lima’s K-J was more than ready for the challenge. Both players caught on the 5-J-A flop, but Lima remained in the lead. That held true on the deuce turn and, once a King rolled off on the river to give Lima an unnecessary two pair, the tournament was done and Vinicius Lima was the champion of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open.
1. Vinicius Lima, $728,430
2. Dave Farah, $485,611
3. Joseph Di Rosa Rojas, $359,555
4. Brandon Hall, $268,810
5. Daniel Buzgon, $202,942
6. Ian O’Hara, $154,734