Every aspiring poker player dreams of that glorious shorthanded final table that only the WPT can produce. As we rolled into Day 4 at the WPT Borgata Poker Classic there were still 27 players who had only that on their mind. Well, maybe they were thinking about the $1.4 million first place prize as well!
When the day got started, there was a mix of online geniuses, live pros, and unknown amateurs. Some well known names that were still alive were Lee Watkinson, Gavin Griffin, Men “The Master” Nguyen, David Tran, Nam Le, and Jared “TheWacoKidd” Hamby, just to name some. It was a very fast start for most, because when the action began they also moved to a new level, raising the blinds and antes. This left many people short stacked without much room to work with. In fact, 5 people were eliminated right out of the gate at the first level. Not much time had passed and the first 9 fell victim, creating the final two tables.
Although the final 27 had made the money and were guaranteed something, it is still a huge disappointment to make it so close, yet still so far from the big payday. Most online players or avid poker TV watchers do not realize how long and stressful large scale live tournaments can be. Imagine playing for 4 days, over 14 hours per day, only to leave as the final table bubble boy one the worst beats of your life. I assume that is how the first 9 that went out today felt like.
As play went on, we saw some pretty big coolers that crippled some and created cheers from others. Unknown player Ervin Prifti was on the good side of these coolers and went on the heater of his life. He picked up KK against Jared “TheWacoKidd” Hamby who cringed and turned over QQ. This sent Hamby almost out and gave Prifti new life. The very next hand his good fortunate continued as he eliminated two players in one hand, finishing Hamby and Vadim Trincher when Prifti flopped a set of 9s. Other notable players that saw some bad luck include former WPT champ Nam Le who took a nasty rivered 3 outer from unknown Shane Labounty. He was unable to catch up and eventually finished in 16th.
As the cards kept being dealt, it wasn’t long before they were down to 11, just one more to be eliminated before the unofficial WPT final table. Sadly for John Roveto, he had a short stack and ended up being the bubble boy in 11th place. As we were down to 10, David Tran had really separated himself from the pack at nearly 4 million chips. Close behind was Justin Bonomo with 3 million. Near the bottom was Men “The Master” Nguyen who was barely alive with 150,000 and Shane Labounty with almost a half a million. Lee Watkinson was also still alive with 850,000.
The shortstacks usually have a target on their back, and that was the case for Nguyen. He was the first one out in 10th after his AK couldn’t find a way to beat Noah “fourUhaters” Schwart’s pocket jacks. There was then a few huge coinflips, which is usually how large tournaments are decided. Scott Blackman knocked out Thomas Hare in 9th when his AK found a way to beat his TT, and Gavin Griffin sent Justin Bonomo home in 8th after his QQ held about against AK.
Down to 7 the player’s may have been more nervous than ever before as we were now on the WPT TV bubble. I’m sure they wouldn’t admit it if you asked any of them, but no one wants to be out one before the TV lights! As play slowly continued, it was eventually a tragic end to Shane LaBounty’s day when his TT ran into QQ of David Tran and he could not find a way to suck out. The bubble may have stung, and probably still does, but was still worth $184,421.
The final 6 is now set at the WPT Borgata Poker Classic which is set to run and complete tomorrow at 5:00 PM ET. Here are the chip counts going into the final table:
David Tran – 5,271,000
Gavin Griffin – 5,105,000
Thomas Hare – 2,851,000
Noah Schwartz – 1,320,000
Lee Watkinson – 397,000
Ervin Prifti – 289,000
It’s easy to see who the clear favorites are, but as always with poker, anything can happen. Good luck to everyone and be sure to check back to the FTR poker news to see who claims their first WPT title the $1,401,109 first place prize!