The fine line between poker immortality and being just another player with a few close calls is rail thin and Jon ‘itsmejon’ Borenstein can firmly attest to that. In the last few years, Borenstein has put together a strong track record in tournaments with four-figure fields that reached a peak last summer when he finished eighth in the Colossus. The majority of Borenstein’s final table runs have ended in heartbreak as when the equity is at its highest, the deck has found a way to work against him.
— Jon Borenstein (@JBoishere) February 3, 2017
It looked like the same record was about to play for Borenstein last week at the final table of the WPT500 at Aria. In the first hand of play, Borenstein three-bet shoved over another all-in player with pocket jacks but ran into the aces of Aleksandr Gofman. Down to just five big blinds, Borenstein doubled up the next hand and only two hours later, was the champion in a field of 3,451.
Borenstein earned $180,000 for his win and also officially removed the final table monkey from his back.
“It didn’t even hit me until a few hours afterward. It feels confirming, it’s why we play the game. It’s what I’ve studied and trained to do for my whole career,” said Borenstein.
The win was highly in question after Borenstein lost a large percentage of his stack in the first hand. He says the time that followed was the “longest 10 minutes of his life” and for a moment, it looked like the final table demons would never be exorcised.
“It felt like an eternity in my mind, the next 10 minutes. I was saying to myself ‘how does this happen every time?’ I was laughing at that point, it was so unbelievable. It was hard to just not lose my mind and become really tilted. But I got a double up right away, and never looked back.”
The WPT500 win is the first major victory for Borenstein and the six-figure score he earned for first place is the largest of his career. The deep tournament runs that Borenstein has made in the past only to fall short at the finish line have stuck with him over time. With all of the spots that have failed him before, Borenstein had some self-doubt but is officially beyond that point with his win.
“It’s so easy to get in your own head in poker, especially when you’re going through a downswing or when you keep getting unlucky. You feel like it’s never going to turn around [and] you look at other people and you’re like ‘that just wasn’t meant for me, some people it was meant for’ and that’s not the case. It’s important to stay the course and keep hitting reg. It finally worked out and it doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past.”
One year ago, Borenstein’s Colossus final table finish was the best result he had ever achieved but the rest of his WSOP was all downhill from there as he only notched four four-figure payout receipts following then. That perspective gives Borenstein all the more joy in winning the WPT500 as his summer prior to the win was a constant uphill battle.
“Last summer, I final tabled the Colossus early and then I had lost the rest of the summer. This time, I lost the entire beginning of the summer and won at the end. You put your body out here every day and it’s a combination of rewarding from everything that led up to it and putting in a full summer’s grind and not giving up, it t feels great.”
The WSOP Main Event is already two Day 1 sessions in and Borenstein will be part of tomorrow’s Day 1C field. Borenstein says he is “on top of the world” coming into poker’s biggest event and with a field that will reach close to 7,000 entrants, he is a candidate to be a player who could potentially ride the wave of variance momentum to make a deep run.