The World Poker Tour Five Diamond Poker Classic is one of the tougher WPT fields each year. The Bellagio event draws some of the best poker players in the world to Las Vegas each December and the list of previous champions is a testament to that. Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, Mohsin Charania, Dan Smith and Antonio Esfandiari are just a few of the players who have captured the title.
The record-sized field that showed up in Las Vegas this past week for the Season XV Five Diamond Classic was star-studded, but in the end it was a relatively unknown player, playing his first WPT event, that managed to capture the title and the nearly $2,000,000 first place prize. James Romero topped a final table that included Justin Bonomo, Igor Yaroshevskyy and Jake Schindler to earn the first live win of his career.
Romero came in to the final table with over 40% of the chips in play and never relinquished his lead, eliminating four of the five players that stood between himself and the title.
Yaroshevskyy was one of just two players at this final table and came in*with the fourth largest stack, but that didn’t stop him from being the first*player eliminated. With blinds at 50,000/100,000, Yaroshevskyy moved all in*from UTG for 1,420,000 with and Romero called from the big blind with*. The flop left Romero ahead and when Yaroshevskyy failed* to connect with the turn or river he was out in sixth place. The*$268,545 sixth place cash is he third biggest of his career, falling behind his*second place in a 2015 World Series of Poker $5000 NLHE Turbo ($303,767) and a*fourth place finish at the 2015 WPT LA Poker Classic ($333,680).
Two hands later Justin Bonomo joined Yaroshevskyy in the payouts line.*Schindler raised to 225,000 from the cutoff before Bonomo moved all in for*995,000. Schindler called and tabled while Bonomo showed . The* flop left Bonomo needing runner-runner fives. The turn was to*officially seal Bonomo’s fate before the hit the river.
Three hands later Romero found himself another victim. Action folded to Alex*Condon on the button and he moved all in for 1,170,000 with and Romero*called from the big blind with . The flop gave Condon*extra outs but neither the turn or *were any help and he was*eliminated in fourth place.
After three eliminations in the span of five hands, the pace slowed down but at no point Romero continued to build up his lead. After 2.5 hours of three-handed play, and with Romero holding almost 75% of the chips, he used his overwhelming lead to bust another player. Ryan Tosoc folded his button, Romero called from the small blind before Schindler moved all in for just over 4,000,000 from the big blind. Romero called and tabled while Romero showed . The board ran out to give Romero the pot and eliminate Schindler, the only other player with a WPT final table appearance, in third place.
Heads up action between Romero and Tosoc began with Romero holding a 7-1 lead. Tosoc managed a nearly full double early, but it only took 16 hands for Romero to end the party. Down to just 2,000,000, Tosoc moved all in pre-flop and Romero called. Tosoc tabled but found himself up against Romero’s . The run out made the elimination official and crowned Romero as champion, eliminating Tosoc in second place for $1,124,051.
The $1,938,118 first place score doesn’t even push Romero’s lifetime live tournament earnings over $2,000,000. The 27 year old was previously focused on online poker and Las Vegas cash games.
The event drew a field of 791 players, a record for this event. The previous largest Five Diamond field was in 2007 when 664 players entered the then-$15,000 buy-in event. The buy-in was lowered to $10,000 in 2010.
The next WPT event is the Borgata Winter Poker Open in January.
Final Table Payouts
- James Romero – $1,938,118
- Ryan Tosoc – $1,124,051
- Jake Schindler – $736,579
- Alex Condon – $494,889
- Justin Bonomo- $345,272
- Igor Yaroshevskyy – $268,545