Season XVII of the World Poker Tour saw the WPT head to the cold Northeast for the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City. A whopper of a field turned out for the $3,500 buy-in event, as 1,415 entries were generated to make it the largest WPT Main Tour event at Borgata and the third-largest WPT Main Tour field size of all time. When play wrapped up on Thursday night, just six players remained. Those six were led by Dave Farah and will now enjoy a 41-day break before playing for the title in Las Vegas on March 13, 2019.
Each of the remaining six players is guaranteed $154,734 for reaching the final table, with a first-place prize of $728,430 awaiting the eventual champion.
The WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open final table will be televised as part of the WPT’s broadcast schedule for Season XVII, and it’s the second final table undergoing a delay before its played out in Las Vegas. The first final table to hit a delay was the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. That event will see the final six compete on March 12, one day before the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open final table plays out.
Farah is from New Jersey and entered the Season XVII WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open with just more than $80,000 in live tournament earnings. That means this result is the largest of his live tournament career. Farah finished atop the final six with 18.85 million and was nearly 5 million ahead of Brandon Hall’s second-place stack of 14.1 million.
WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Final Table
Seat 1: Ian O’Hara – 5,100,000
Seat 2: Dave Farah – 18,850,000
Seat 3: Joseph Di Rosa Rojas – 5,800,000
Seat 4: Brandon Hall – 14,100,000
Seat 5: Vinicius Lima – 3,550,000
Seat 6: Daniel Buzgon – 9,100,000
How the Final Table Was Reached
The Season XVII WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open began with 1,415 entries. Entering Day 2, 662 players remained, with the registration and re-entry period open for another couple of hours. When Day 2 was all said and done, 177 players remained. They were all in the money, as the top 177 places paid.
Chris Tryba was eliminated on the money bubble at the hand of Dylan Gang. Tryba’s pocket nines could hold up against the of Gang thanks to an ace on the flop, sending Tryba home in 178th place. That’s when Day 2 ended and it was Alex Aqel on top with 1.26 million in chips.
On Day 3, WPT Champions Club members Mike Linster (74th), Brian Altman (92nd), David Paredes (134th), Victor Ramdin (152nd), Daniel Strelitz (164th), Taylor Paur (168th), and Anthony Zinno (175th) all his the rail. Aqel’s run came to an end in 69th place. A little later, the last of the WPT champions fell. Matt Waxman busted in 49th, Bobby Oboodi went out in 39th, and then Olivier Busquet was bounced in 32nd. Busquet, a former WPT winner at Borgata, was the final WPT champion standing. Day 3 ended with 29 players left and Nick Schwarmann out in front.
To start things off on Day 4, Ian O’Hara knocked out Taylor Wilson in 29th place. A little bit after that, Daniel Buzgon, who is currently the 13th-ranked online player in New Jersey and 19th-ranked player in the United States, took the chip lead from Schwarmann. Schwarmann stayed strong, though, and eventually busted Chase Bianchi in 22nd place.
Farah knocked out A.J. Kelsall in 20th place, Buzgon sent Joseph Liberta out the door in 19th, and Hall KO’d Ariel Albilia in 18th position. Buzgon then took care of Elilton Gouveia in 17th, Vinicius Lima sent Melad Marji home in 16th, and Ping Liu was eliminated in 15th. Liu’s elimination was significant because by reaching the top 15, Liu earned enough points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race to sit atop the leaderboard. Although tied with Tony Ruberto with 1,850 points, Liu holds the tiebreaker of most money won.
After a dinner break, Raul Martinez busted in 14th and Lucas Braga went out in 13th. Braga was knocked out by Buzgon. Steven Sarmiento, who won a huge pot earlier in the day with aces over Brandon Shane’s kings, the knocked out Dave Peay in 12th place.
Schwarmann’s run would come to an end in 11th place and Gang busted in 10th, both falling to Hall. The final nine players then joined to one table. From there, Michael Cannon went out ninth, Shane hit the rail in eighth, and Sarmiento fell in seventh. Sarmiento was busted by Farah.
On that final hand of Day 4, Sarmiento was all in with pocket nines against the of Farah. Sarmiento’s nines held until the river, but that’s when a ten appeared to knock Sarmiento out.
Is the Third Time the Charm for Farah?
Although this WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open final table may lack a big name such as Phil Hellmuth, who busted in 102nd place for $7,176, or a WPT Champions Club member looking to earn another title, what we can look forward to is a new name etched on the WPT Champions Cup.
As mentioned, Farah is making the largest cash of his live tournament career. In fact, it’s only his ninth live tournament cash ever. His previous best was a 344th-place finish in the 2016 WSOP Main Event when he took home $32,130. He does have two prior WPT Main Tour cashes on record, and both came from previous editions of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. In Season XV, Farah placed 41st for $13,607. In Season XVI, he finished 75th for $8,623. As the saying goes, the third time is the charm, and Farah’s third cash in the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open could very well be the charm he is looking for, and it’d be worth $728,430.
Brandon Hall Back On the Big Stage
Hall will enter the final table second in chips. If you were to stroll through the field of 1,400-plus players at Borgata, you might walk right past Hall, as he has a modest appearance that can truly blend into any tournament field. That said, Hall has been on the big stage before, evidenced by his more than $1.46 million in live tournament earnings.
Hall’s first big splash came in 2009 when he won the Aruba Poker Classic for $753,330, defeating Robert Mizrachi in heads-up play. A handful of years later, Hall finished runner-up in a $1,500 buy-in WSOP event for $381,885.
Buzgon and O’Hara Eye First Major Title
Both Daniel Buzgon, third in chips, and O’Hara, fifth in chips, have plenty of poker success ahead of this deep run in the Season XVII WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. Both had more than $2 million in live tournament earnings and multiple six-figure scores ahead of this event, but neither had won a major poker title.
Both have also come close in WPT Main Tour events before. Buzgon has previously reached a WPT final table twice, finishing third in the WPT Borgata Poker Open and fourth at WPT Jacksonville, both in Season X. O’Hara’s closest call to winning a WPT title was a ninth-place result in the Season XIV WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic.
Di Rosa Rojas and Lima Making the Most of First WPT Cashes
The other two players to reach the final table were Joseph Di Rosa Rojas and Lima. Combined, the two have just more than $1 million in live tournament earnings. Di Rosa Rojas entered the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open with $770,366 in live earnings, and Lima had $263,186. You may know Di Rosa Rojas for his finish in the 2017 WSOP Marathon event, which he won for $690,469. Lima’s best result comes from a $102,149 score in Las Vegas.
Both Di Rosa Rojas and Lima are making their first World Poker Tour final table with this run.
Hublot WPT Player of the Year Implications
As already mentioned, Liu moved into first place in the Season XVII Hublot WPT Player of the Year race with his 15th-place finish in the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. Each of the remaining six players will earn at least 800 points in the race, and there are 1,400 points up for grabs to the winner of this event. Those are a lot of points for the winner, but no player to reach this final table has cashed in Season XVII yet, so everyone is starting from scratch. That said, 1,400 points would jump the winner into fourth place, right behind this season’s WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic winner, Dylan Linde.
Next Stop, Las Vegas On March 13
After reaching the final table, the final six players were sent on a 41-day hiatus. They’ll pick up the action on March 13, 2019, in Las Vegas at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino. That’s when they’ll compete for the $728,430 top prize, which includes a $15,000 buy-in into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions.