Ivey and Esfandiari Highlight WPT Champions Challenge Final Four


[CAPTION=100%]Only four players remain in the WPT Champions Challenge.[/CAPTION]
After three weeks of fan voting the World Poker Tour Champions Challenge is down to just four players. And surprisingly, there isn’t a single number one seed remaining.

When the voting closed for the Elite Eight, Antonio Esfandiari beat out Spades region number one Gus Hansen, Barry Greenstein beat out Diamonds region top seed Anthony Zinno, Phil Ivey dusted off Erik Seidel in the Hearts region and Jonathan Little, fresh off of beating out Daniel Negreanu, beat Doyle Brunson to advance.

That round sets the final two matches with Esfandiari up against Ivey and Greenstein squaring off with Little. Each player brings a solid WPT resume to the penultimate round.

Antonio Esfandiari
WPT Earnings: $2,956,243
Wins – Final Tables – Cashes: 13 – 8 – 2

Antonio Esfandiari burst onto the WPT scene in 2002 with a near-miss third place finish at the Gold Rush event in Colma, CA and then solidified his place in the game with a win at the 2004 LA Poker Classic. That event had a field of 382 players with Esfandiari beating out Vinny Vinh heads up for the title.

Nearly seven years later he added a second title to his resume, beating out a stacked final table with Ted Lawson, Kirk Morrison, John Racener, Vanessa Rousso and Andrew Robl to win $870,124.

Phil Ivey
WPT Earnings: $4,027,221
Wins – Final Tables – Cashes: 14 – 10 – 1

Phil Ivey is the only player in the final four with just one WPT title to his credit, but he has the most final tables out of all of them. Ivey made eight WPT final tables before broke through and won the LA Poker Classic in 2008. He has one runner-up finish, three third place finishes, two fifth and two sixth places.

At the 2008 LAPC Ivey beat out a final table that included Konstantin Puchkov, Scott Montgomery and Nam Le to win $1,596,100.

Barry Greenstein
WPT Earnings: $2,427,428
Wins – Final Tables – Cashes: 20 – 5 – 2

During the poker boom Barry Greenstein made a name for himself as the “Robin Hood of Poker” on the World Poker Tour after donating a good chunk of his WPT winnings to charity. And there were a lot of winnings early on. In January 2004, Greenstein won $1,278,370 after taking down the World Poker Open in Tunica, MS. Two months later he finished fifth at the PartyPoker Million III for just under $200,000.

Greenstein’s second title came in 2006 at the WPT Invitational in Los Angeles.

Jonathan Little
WPT Earnings: $ 3,695,510
Wins – Final Tables – Cashes: 21 – 4 – 2

Jonathan Little won two WPT titles in 2007, spread over two seasons. His first win came at the Mirage Poker Showdown where he beat out Ivey, Darrell Dicken and Cory Carroll to win $1,091,795. He found himself in the winner’s photo again six months later, this time at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods Casino. There he beat out Mike Matusow, David Pham and Jonathan Jaffe to earn $1,120,310. He almost won a third title that year, finishing second behind Scott Clements at the North American Poker Championships in Niagara Falls.

Final Four voting is open now through Friday, April 1. Voting for in the championship round runs April 1 – April 8 and the winner will be announced on Monday, April 11.