Alexander Yen is the newest member of the World Poker Tour Champions Club after he bested the 1,928-entry field of the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida for $975,240 and a spot on the WPT Mike Sexton Champions Cup.
Like it was in 2021, the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open proved to be another strong start to the WPT season. This year 839 entries showed up for Day 1A and they were joined by another 1,089 on Day 1B for a total field of 1,928 entries and a prize pool of $6,342,400, smashing the advertised $2 million guarantee.
Yen held control for the chip counts for the majority of the final table, starting the day with a healthy chip lead and maintaining it throughout the bulk of play. He lost it for just a few hands in heads-up play against former online top 5 ranked Anton Wigg but quickly retook the lead, made a great read, and flopped a monster hand in the end to win it all.
At the start of the day, Omar Lakhdari was sitting fifth in chips, but the gap between him and short-stack Nicholas Vergeramo was a scant two big blinds. With 24 big blinds, Lakhdari had some room to maneuver but also needed to find a way to chip up. He battled for the better part of an hour before he made what would be his final stand. With the blinds at 100,000/200,000 (200,000 ante), Daniel Lazrus put in a raise to 450,000 holding the from under the gun. When the action reached Lakhdari in the cutoff he moved all-in for just over 3.6 million with the . The flop came giving Lazrus top set but also bringing flush outs for Lakhdari. The turn was the bringing no help but keeping Lakhdari’s flush dreams alive. However, the river was the , pairing his king but ultimately losing the hand. Lakhdari finished in sixth place which was good for $208,025.
Josh Kay arrived at the final table second in chips and held that spot when the blinds increased to 125,000/250,000 (250,000 ante). But everything quickly went sideways on Kay as he doubled the short-stacked Verderamo and shortly after played a huge pot against Anton Wigg where Kay’s pocket queens lost a critical flip against Wigg’s ace-king. Not long after, Kay and Wigg battled again. Kay opened from the hijack to 500,000 with his after which Anton Wigg three-bet shipped over the top with . The action folded back to Kay and he put in the rest of his stack, looking to double back up through Wigg. The flop came , giving Wigg trips and leaving Kay looking for help. Some arrived on the turn, giving Kay backdoor flush possibilities headed to the river. But it was the that completed the board, sending Kay home early in fifth place for $272,830.
Four hands later, Verderamo found himself all-in and at risk. Yen opened from the button to 500,000 from the button with the . Verderamo, took a moment and moved his short stack all-in from the big blind with the . Yen snapped him off and the board ran out, never giving Yen’s pocket queens a sweat. Verderamo laddered into fourth place and picked up a career-high $361,130 score.
Three-handed play lasted nearly two hours and the blinds climbed to 200,000/400,000 (400,000 ante). Daniel Lazrus was sitting at the bottom of the chip counts and looking for the opportunity to rise back into contention with Yen and Wigg. With roughly 15 big blinds, Lazrus open-shipped his stack from the small blind holding the into Yen in the big blind with . Yen made the call, putting Lazrus at risk. The flop came , immediately putting Yen in control of the hand but leaving Lazrus with backdoor outs. The turn didn’t improve Lazrus’ odds and when the hit the river, Lazrus was eliminated in third place for $482,380.
Yen started heads-up play with a better than 2:1 chip lead, but it didn’t take long for Wigg to double through Yen when Wigg’s survived an all-in to Yen’s [kc on a board of . Soon thereafter, Wigg grabbed the chip lead and that marked the first time at the final table that Yen lost the chip lead.
However, Yen didn’t lose the chip lead for long. He took it back and then extended the lead after picking off a big bluff by Wigg which resulted in 70% of the chips in play sitting in front of Yen. One hand after winning that pot, all the chips got in the middle.
The blinds were at 300,000/500,000 (500,000 ante) and Yen limped the blind holding , Wigg made it 2 million to go with his and Yen made the call. The flop came , giving Yen a flopped straight with a redraw to the straight flush. With his over pair Wigg continued to fire, putting out a 4.5 million bet. Yen smooth called and the hit the turn. Wigg used one of his time banks and moved all-in for his final 18 million chips. Yen quickly called and Wigg needed a queen or a six to improve to a full house and survive. The river came shipping the pot and WPT LHPO title to Yen. Wigg settled for runner-up and $650,180.
WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Final Table Results
- Alexander Yen – $975,240
- Anton Wigg – $650,180
- Daniel Lazrus – $482,380
- Nicholas Verderamo – $361,130
- Josh Kay – $272,830
- Omar Lakhdari – $208,025