When Ali Imsirovic took his seat at the final table of Poker Masters Event #5: $25,000 No Limit Hold’em he was likely the least known poker pro of the star-studded six.
But even though Imsirovic, the 2018 Borgata Spring Poker Open Champion, may not be one of the faces regularly seen during high-stakes broadcasts, he didn’t let the moment get away from him. He navigated the tough final table and in the end, claimed his first Poker Masters title and a career-high cash of $462,000.
Generally considered one of the toughest high-stakes tournament players in the world, Aria regular Jake Schindler started the day with a healthy chip lead. On the other end of the chip counts, poker celebrity Daniel Negreanu had just a few big blinds left to try and make something happen. Joining the pair in the final six was Ben Yu, Brian Rast, Jason Koon, and Imsirovic.
Roughly 20 minutes into play Negreanu took a stand with his short stack. Yu raised from the hijack holding and Negreanu flat called holding the . Leaving himself less than a third of a big blind, Negreanu put it at risk on the flop. Yu called and the board ran out with the on the turn and the on the river leaving Negreanu’s small pair unimproved. Negreanu hit the rail in sixth place for a $99,000 score. It is his second sixth-place finish of the 2018 Poker Masters.
The eliminations continued just minutes later when Imsirovic raised in the cutoff with [ak]. Koon, who now held the shortest stack remaining, shipped the chips holding . Imsirovic made the quick call and Koon soon discovered he was dominated. The flop left little hope for Koon as it came . Looking for some running cards, the provided a few outs to the straight for the Triton SHR Short Deck Champion. But when the completed the board, Koon was eliminated in fifth place. He adds another $132,000 to his over $11.3 million in earning in 2018. This was Koon’s third cash of the series.
As the final table wore on, Schindler lost the chip lead, lost a substantial hand that doubled up Ben Yu and found himself as the short stack with four players left. Folded to Schindler in the small blind, he open shipped his five big blinds with . Imsirovic in the big blind quickly called showing down . Both players whiffed the flop. But when the turned, Schindler was drawing dead. The river brought an inconsequential and Schindler headed to the cashier for his $165,000 fourth-place payday.
Rast, who had the chip lead when Schindler hit the rail, then lost a pair of very big hands. First, doubled up Imsirovic and then quickly second doubled up Yu when Yu hit a 3-outer on the river.
It wasn’t much longer after that second double through that Rast had to play for it all. Imsirovic, now the chip leader, was applying pressure to both shorter stacks. He moved all in from the button with . Rast, in the big blind made the call only seeing the . The was his second hole card and he was going to have to catch up to stay in the game. The board ran out offering no help to Rast. Rast collected $214,500 for third place.
Heads up play between Yu and Imsirovic didn’t last very long. After a few hands, Imsirovic limped on the button with . Yu moved all in from the big blind with and Imsirovic made the quick call. It was a flip for Yu’s tournament life and to give Imsirovic the win. The flop came , providing a set for Imsirovic and Yu needed running cards to catch up. The turn was the leaving Yu with no outs. He finished the tournament as the runner-up and earned $330,000 for his efforts.
Imsirovic takes the first place prize of $462,000 holding pocket fives. In his winner’s interview dedicated the performance to his father who he credited with teaching him strategy games.
“A year ago I was watching [Stefan Sontheimer] win everything and I was like it would be really cool if I could do that in a few years. I’m very surprised it came this fast but I’m super fortunate and I want to dedicate this win to my dad.”
Event #5 Final Table Payouts
1. Ali Imsirovic – $462,000
2. Ben Yu – $330,000
3. Brian Rast – $214,500
4. Jake Schindler – $165,000
5. Jason Koon – $132,000
6. Daniel Negreanu – $99,000