WPT: Matthew Wantman Takes Down ARIA Summer Championship

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Matthew Wantman topped the 192-player field in the WPT ARIA Summer Championship on Friday. (Jayme Thompson/WPT photo)

The crazy week for the World Poker Tour continued on Friday afternoon as the $10,000 buy-in ARIA Summer Championship played down to a winner. Matthew Wantman eliminated four of the final six players to win $443,475 and his first WPT title. Wantman also earned automatic entry into the WPT Tournament of Champions that gets underway Saturday at ARIA.

It took just four hands to get the first elimination. Action folded to Ryan Laplante and he moved all in from the hijack and Wantman called from the big blind. Laplante turned over AdKh which had him racing against Wantman’s JhJs. The 9h7h4c8cJc runout missed Laplante and gave Wantman an unneeded set of jacks to bust Laplante in sixth place. Laplante wasted no time in getting back on the horse though.

The next elimination came just six hands later. Jim Collopy limped for 15,000 before Wantman raised to 65,000 from the small blind. Collopy moved all in for 540,000 and Wantman called. Collopy tabled Ac8d and Wantman was well ahead with QcQs. The 9c9d3c flop failed to connect for Collopy and all he could do was watch the Td turn and 4d river miss him again to officially eliminate him in fifth place.

The fast pace of eliminations continued and only five more hands passed before Wantman found another victim. From the button, Wantman raised to 40,000 and Art Papazyan called from the small blind before Kevin Eyster shipped his last 375,000 from the big blind. Wantman called and Papazyan folded. Wantman again turned over a monster, this time QcQd while Eyster needed some help with KdJc. The 7h5c3c6cTc runout gave Wantman a queen-high flush and eliminated Eyster in third.

It took four hours and 140 hands to go from three players to heads up. Papazyan, who was looking for his third career WPT win, button-raised to 85,000 and then moved all in for 1,545,000 after Igor Kurganov made it 300,000 from the small blind. Kurganov called and showed AhQd and Papazyan was in rough shape with QsJh. The AsKhJs flop gave Kurganov top pair and Kurganov bottom pair with players drawing to a chop with Broadway. The turn was the 7c and the river the 5c to give Kurganov the pot and send him to heads up against Wantman while Papazyan was out in third position.

The players were nearly even in chips when heads up began; Wantman held 53% of the chips. Over the next two hours, Kurganov and Wantman played 53 hands and traded the chip lead a few times before Wantman finally put Kurganov away for good. Down to 18 big blinds, Kurganov shipped all in with Ad6c and Wantman called with AcJs. The JhThTs flop gave Wantman a commanding lead in the hand and neither the 6d turn or 4s river changed anything to send Kurganov out in second and award Wantman his first WPT title.

The event drew 192 entrants for a total prize pool $1,824,000. In 2018, the Bobby Baldwin Poker Classic, which held the same spot on the calendar at ARIA, attracted 162 players.

Final Table Payouts

  1. Matthew Wantman – $443,475
  2. Igor Kurganov – $285,650
  3. Art Papazyan – $209,980
  4. Kevin Eyster – $156,220
  5. Jim Collopy – $117,640
  6. Ryan Laplante – $89,685