The world has not been wanting for poker action in the leadup to the 2023 World Series of Poker. The World Poker Tour, as they have for the past few years, has been holding three of its more recent events at the HyperX Arena at Luxor in Las Vegas ahead of the WSOP, and the action has been entertaining. There have been plenty of moments that, in all honesty, would have been better to see in the casino during the play of the event, but the “Weekend of Champions” has been worthy of its name.
Bin Weng Takes First Leg of Double Dip
One of the big stories of the WPT’s “Weekend of Champions” was the drive by Bin Weng to win two WPT events. On Thursday night, Weng had his first – and arguably best – chance at a WPT title when he came to the felt with the chip lead of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. Weng would emerge as the victor in the tournament in what was a very short final table, even for a six-handed event.
How dominant was the victory? In the first two hours of the tournament, Weng would serve as the executioner for four of his five opponents. The final opponent that Weng would dismiss was Sri Sanganngari, who fought back from a 5:1 deficit to take the lead from Weng at one point. Alas, Weng would be able to right the ship and lift the Mike Sexton WPT Champions’ Cup for his first major tournament poker championship.
1. Bin Weng, $1,128,250
2. Sri Sanganngari, $745,000
3. Mitch Garshofsky, $550,000
4. David Mzareulov, $413,000
5. Jack Thu, $312,000
6. Rafael Farah, $238,000
Jared Jaffee Denies Bin Weng Double, Earns Second Title
On Friday night, the stage was set for the WPT Choctaw’s final table; it was the second chance for Weng to do something unique in the annals of WPT history. Rarely has a player won two WPT Main Event titles in two days but, with the “Weekend of Champions” giving him the opportunity, Weng was poised to do so. Alas, from the start it didn’t seem that the fates were looking his way.
Weng would clash frequently with Jaffee, with the WPT Champions’ Cup members looking to establish dominance on the felt. Jaffee was the one who came out on the positive side of this battle, however, as he ground down Weng’s stack. With four players left, Jaffee would get Weng to commit his final ten million or so in chips with a K-J against Jaffee’s A-9. After the board wound out with no one hitting, Jaffee scooped the pot and Weng’s dreams of a second WPT title went away with him in fourth place.
From there, Jaffee etched his own name in the history books. He would eventually reach heads-up action against Dojie Ignacio and, after an entertaining battle, put him away to pick up his second WPT title – but more on that in a moment:
1. Jared Jaffee, $400,740
2. Dojie Ignacio, $261,000
3. Mike Vanier, $192,000
4. Bin Weng, $143,000
5. Rusty Farrin, $107,000
6. Erkut Yilmaz, $81,700
Jaffee’s championship in the WPT Choctaw is a historic one. With the victory, Jaffee joins a list of 41 men who have won multiple championships on the World Poker Tour. With nine and a half years between his titles (his previous title was at the 2013 WPT bestbet Jacksonville Fall Poker Scramble), Jaffee also establishes the longest time between WPT victories.
Gardens Poker Championship Final Table Concludes Weekend
The finale of the three-tournament sweep at the HyperX Sports Arena on Saturday will be action in the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. Only in action a couple of days ago, the Gardens Poker Championship has a bit of momentum in bringing its six players north to Las Vegas to conclude their tournament. The main draw of this tournament will be the appearance of one of the Ambassadors for the WPT on the felt.
Owen, who partners with Andrew Neeme for the WPT Meet-Up Games, demonstrated that he wasn’t exclusively a cash game player in driving to the final table. He would be extremely fortunate, however, to make it there. In the final elimination of the tournament (back when it was at the Gardens Casino in Bell Gardens, CA), Owen called the all-in of Thomas Choi, which could have been fatal for Owen.
Choi had made his stand from under the gun with Big Slick, while Owen (in the small blind) got a bit adventurous with his call while holding an A-7. The flop doesn’t recognize probabilities, however (Choi held aHyperX 70/24 advantage, with a 6% chance of a split pot), delivering a seven and thrusting Owen into the lead. No King would come for Choi, ending his run back from a single big blind on the third day of the tournament in seventh place.
Here’s how the table lines up on Saturday:
Seat 1: Ryan Salunga, 7.275 million (P1)
Seat 2: Brad Owen, 3.35 million (P3)
Seat 3: Ky Nguyen, 1.7 million (P4)
Seat 4: Chris Lee, 3.975 million (P2)
Seat 5: Josh Lachman, 225,000 (P6)
Seat 6: Joey Deluca, 875,000 (P5)
Outside of the short-stacked Lachman and the player immediately ahead of him in Deluca, any of the other four men have a shot at this title. It’s going to be tough to top Salunga, who was in a zone when the final table concluded on Thursday night, but Owen and Lee may benefit from the regrouping of the past couple of days. The cards will go in the air at 4 PM (PDT) and it will determine the final victor in the World Poker Tour’s “Weekend of Champions.”
(Photo courtesy of the World Poker Tour)