For the past year, three of the biggest tournaments on the World Poker Tour have existed in a sort of limbo. Because of the shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic, these three tournaments have not been completed in the timeframe that they were scheduled. We now know when these three events – the 2020 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, the 2020 WPT Gardens Poker Championship and the 2020 WPT L. A. Poker Classic – will finally play out.
WPT Gardens Poker Championship First Up
The first event that will be played out is the one that has been waiting the longest to determine a champion. The WPT Gardens Poker Championship, which set its final table in mid-January 2020, will reconvene on March 10. Instead of being played at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas, however, it will be played out at the PokerGO Studios and it will be recorded for future broadcast on FOX Sports (there will be no live stream).
Under current COVID restrictions in Las Vegas, the players (and all personnel around the table, it is believed) will be masked. The players will undergo testing for COVID-19 prior to the resumption of the tournament. If a player tests positive for the virus, they will receive an ICM payout of their chip stack. All players have agreed to these specifications, allowing the tournament to resume next week.
In that event, Chance Kornuth (2.995 million) is in position to add to his illustrious poker resume by winning his first WPT title. He has two distinct challenges in Markus Gonsalves (2.37 million) and Tuan Pham (2.07 million), who join Kornuth in having over two million chips. The three remaining players – Jonathan Cohen (1.615 million), Qing Liu (795,000) and Straton Wilhelm (435,000) – have their work cut out for them.
WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Up Next, But Still Delayed
The other two “delayed” final tables will not be held until May. These two events will be joined by the final table of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, which is scheduled for April and will have its final table delayed until May 18. As to the COVID regulations for these events, there has been nothing set in stone at this time.
The WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open has been waiting nearly as long as the WPT Gardens event to reach a conclusion. The Borgata tournament played its last hand at the end of January and will resume its action on May 16 at the PokerGO Studios. It is an event that has a chance at making WPT history.
Brian Altman heads to the final table looking to join a highly exclusive club. In the history of the WPT, only ‘Chino’ Rheem, Anthony Zinno, Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen and Darren Elias have won more than two titles (Elias has won four, the rest three). A victory in this event would make Altman a three-time WPT Mike Sexton Champions’ Cup winner, but there’s some men on the felt who might have something to say about his efforts.
Altman (9.865 million) comes to the table in third place behind Veerab Zakarian (11.99 million) and James Anderson (10.04 million). Bin Weng (8.89 million), Andrew Hanna (6.73 million) and Nathan Russler (3.99) will also be looking to move up the ladder. The first-place prize in this tournament will be $674,840, but it will pale in comparison to the final delayed table.
L. A. Poker Classic Offers Million Dollar Payday
May 17 will see the 2020 WPT L. A. Poker Classic final table play out with a $1,015,000 prize awaiting the victor. Balakrishna Patur (6.32 million) will be atop the mountain in this tournament, but Matas Cimbolas (4.31 million) and James Carroll (4.125 million) will be able to mix it up with Patur. It gets a bit tougher on the remainder of the field as Ka Kwan Lau (2.25 million), Scott Hempel (1.67 million), and a short-stacked Upeshka De Silva (930,000) will try to improve their station.
In an interesting side note, De Silva made the final table of the World Series of Poker’s second run at a “Main Event” in December 2020. Due to inconclusive COVID testing, however, De Silva was prevented from playing at the final table of that tournament. He may once again face some sort of COVID testing in this tournament.
The completion of these tournaments, along with the final table of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown (that delayed final table will be played May 18), will put an end to the Season XVIII schedule of the WPT. In a unique move, the WPT has adjusted the Season XVIII history to cover between 2019 and 2021. It will certainly mark the end to a tumultuous timeframe in the history of the World Poker Tour.