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After a ten-month hiatus, the live World Poker Tour Main Tour returned to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida for the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open. After a long day of play and a three-handed deal, Ilyas Muradi took home $605,000, a ticket to the 2021 WPT Tournament of Champions, and his first career WPT title. For anyone questioning if live poker players were eager to get back in the action, the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open had the answer. Despite the state of the pandemic, playing behind plexiglass barriers, and the requirement to wear masks the tournament’s 1,573-entry field became the third-largest in the WPT’s eighteen-year history. It wasn’t just an outpouring of local players that made their way to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino as players traveled from all parts of the globe to participate in the first WPT Main Tour live event since the conclusion of WPT Rolling Thunder in March 2020. There were plenty of notable names who made a deep run in the event but fell short of the final table. World Poker Tour champions Sam Panzica (189th, $6,150) and Kevin Eyster (167th, $6,300) made Day 3 as did Athanasios Polychronopoulous (125th, $7,025), Will ‘The Thrill’ Failla (103rd, $7,880), and well-known vlogger Johnnie Moreno (93rd, $8,230). Among those joining them in the money were Jerry Wong (90th, $8,230), Alex Keating (77th, $9,885), and worldwide current #2-ranked online pro from Croatia Ivan ‘zufo16’ Zufic (31st, $23,110). The final three tables included some of the World Poker Tour’s biggest names including WPT winner Aaron Mermelstein (25th, $23,110), Scott Baumstein (24th, $27,660), WPT Deepstack Champion Justin Liberto (22nd, $27,660), and four-time WPT champion Darren Elias who finished in tenth place and earned $79,455 which brought his career WPT total to just under $3.9 million. Day four started with the final seven players grinding for two 90-minute levels before reaching the official final table of six. Andy Hwang, the final WPT Champion Club member left in the field, started the day third in chips, however, a few hours into play he found himself grinding a short stack of fewer than 20 big blinds. After a raise from Francis Margaglione in early position with [poker card="7d"][poker card="7c"], Hwang three-bet shipped his stack with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="kh"]. Folded back around to Margaglione, he made the call. The board ran out [poker card="3s"][poker card="2s"][poker card="2h"][poker card="6d"][poker card="qd"] ensuring that a new WPT champion would be crowned as Hwang exited in seventh place for $115,630. Roughly twenty minutes later, after an early position raise, Tsz Shing shipped his 22 big blind stack holding [poker card="kh"][poker card="qd"] from the button. Ronnie Bardah made the call from the small blind with his [poker card="qh"][poker card="qs"] and the early position raiser folded. The [poker card="th"][poker card="7c"][poker card="6c"][poker card="4d"][poker card="5d"] ran clean for the pocket queens and eliminated Brooklyn’s Shing in sixth place for a career-high recorded live cash of $168,990. At five-handed, Jesse Lonis put in a raise from late position with [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"]. After it folded to Bardah in the big blind, Bardah put in a three-bet with the [poker card="ks"][poker card="kc"]. With the action back on Lonis and 30 big blinds behind, Lonis four-bet shipped with Bardah snap-called. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="7d"][poker card="7s"] flop left Lonis looking for one of two outs to save him. The [poker card="3d"] hit the turn and the [poker card="jd"] completed the board and ended Lonis’ tournament in fifth place for $223,895. Margaglione started the day with the chip lead but his stack slowly dwindled during the day. Eventually, he made his move by raising from the button with [poker card="qc"][poker card="9s"] only to be shoved on by the big stack of Bardah in the big blind holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="kc"]. With just over 10 big blinds behind, Margaglione opted to make the call. The flop came [poker card="ac"][poker card="6c"][poker card="7s"] giving Bardah top pair and leaving Margaglione looking for runner-runner help. The [poker card="2h"] was of no use to Margaglione who was drawing dead to the [poker card="jh"] river. Margaglione finished in fourth place for $293,510. During a break, the final three players negotiated a deal for the remaining prize pool. Ilyas Muradi locked up $580,000 as the chip leader and Bardah, sitting in second, agreed to $566,135. Robel Andemichael secured $545,500 and all three agreed to leave $25,000 and a ticket to the WPT Tournament of Champions on the table for the eventual winner. Even though a deal was in place, the pace of play stayed deliberate. After roughly two hours, Andemichael put in a raise on the button with [poker card="ac"][poker card="9d"] and Bardah pushed his final twelve big blinds in the middle with [poker card="as"][poker card="2s"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2h"] flop gave Bardah the lead, which held through the [poker card="ts"] turn. But the [poker card="9s"] river gave the hand to Andemichael which eliminated Bardah in third place for his agreed-upon career-high score of $566,135. Heads up play started with both Andemichael and Muradi practically even in chips. Another two hours passed without either player holding a significant lead. Finally, Andemichael moved all-in for his final 15 big blinds with [poker card="ad"][poker card="6d"] and was called by Muradi holding [poker card="4d"][poker card="4h"]. The board ran out [poker card="tc"][poker card="9c"][poker card="8s"][poker card="3c"][poker card="qs"] giving Muradi’s pocket fours the pot and his first WPT title. Andemichael finished as the runner-up, taking home the$545,500 he locked up in the deal. Ilyas Muradi added the $25,000 to his $580,000 portion of the deal for a total cash score of $605,000 plus a $15K ticket to the Tournament of Champions, and a date to have his name engraved on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup. Final Table Payouts 1. Ilyas Muradi - $605,000* + WPT Tournament of Champions seat 2. Robel Andemichael - $545,000* 3. Ronnie Bardah - $566,135* 4. Francis Margaglione - $293,510 5. Jesse Lonis - $223,895 6. Tsz Shing - $168,990
Shaun Deeb completed his latest masterful victory at the World Series of Poker, as he took down the $25,000-entry PLO High Roller to win $1.25 million and his fifth WSOP bracelet. At the final table, Deeb raced to an early double, dominating the final thereafter to beat overnight leader Ka Kwan Lau heads-up. Deeb Goes from Mushroom to Pushing Buttons Before the action got going, Deeb had a message for his many fans who would be tuning in to see if his chip stack would ‘mushroom’ as the lights were on him and his four opponents. https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1454579446707470336 Deeb couldn’t wait to get going and carried an air of optimism with him into proceedings. From the moment he almost instantly doubled up, Deeb was on the march and swept all before him. Bulgarian Veselin Karakitukov was first to bust the final day, exiting in fifth for $276,870 at the hands of Deeb. The now five-time WSOP bracelet winner would take out the payer he doubled through as the table kicked off, too, as Maxx Coleman was eliminated by the champion-in waiting in fourth place for $381,394. John Beauprez fell to Deeb in third place for $537,295 before Ka Kwan Lau, who had begun the day with the chip lead, was overcome by Deeb heads-up. Deeb, who busted every single one of his opponents as he stormed to victory, told PokerGO after the final table that he was determined to chase down Phil Hellmuth’s total of 16 WSOP titles. “Oh, I’m going to pass Phil [Hellmuth] eventually,” Deeb said casually. “It’s going to take me a while, but I’m going to pass Phil. He’s a great player when he’s sharp, but he can’t play every day like me. When he wins a bracelet, he’s not hopping in the next event like I’m going to do, and that’s going to help me out. Plus, I think online I’m a stronger player and there are so many more online bracelets. I’m going to catch him one day. It’s going to take me a decade or two, but I’ll be there.” Hellmuth himself was quick to praise his ‘nice guy’ opponent on Twitter. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1454743417095790600 WSOP 2021 Event #53 $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller Final Table Results: Shaun Deeb - $1,251,860 Ka Kwan Lau - $773,708 John Beauprez - $537,295 Maxx Coleman - $381,394 Veselin Karakitukov Bulgaria $276,870 David Benyamine France $205,655 Ben Lamb U.S.A. $156,387 Charles Sinn U.S.A. $121,816 In the race to win WSOP Player of the Year, Deeb has moved to with just 129 points of his long-game adversary, The Poker Brat, with Anthony Zinno still top of the pile after 53 completed events. WSOP 2021 Player of the Year Standings: Anthony Zinno - 2,627.88 Jake Schwartz - 2,614.45 Phil Hellmuth - 2,598.59 Shaun Deeb - 2,470.69 Ari Engel - 2,214.41 Julia Top of the Shop for Maiden Bracelet Nicholas Julia won a debut WSOP bracelet with a stunning mixed game win in the Nine-Game Mix final after toppling Kristan Lord heads-up. Dominating the final table, Julia brought about the final table of six and immediately reduced it to just five as he busted seventh-placed Kenny Hsiung ($17,017) and sixth-placed Robert Mizrachi ($23,352) in the same hand. Once five remained, Kristan Lord busted Robert McLaughlin, with Lord’s pocket kings holding against McLaughlin’s pocket nines. Julia then busted Aditya Prasetyo in fourth place for $47,164 before Justin Liberto slid out to Lord in third for a payday worth $69,341. Heads-up, Julia had a strong 2:1 chip lead and sealed the deal when a hand of Razz saw the winner end with an eight-six and had Lord drawing dead by the river, standing to shake his conqueror’s hand and claim a runner-up prize of $104,210, a result dwarfed by Julia’s $168,608 win and a first-ever WSOP bracelet. WSOP 2021 Event #54 $2,500 Nine-Game Mix Six-Max Final Table Results: Nicholas Julia - $168,608 Kristan Lord - $104,210 Justin Liberto - $69,341 Aditya Prasetyo - $47,164 Robert McLaughlin - $32,808 Robert Mizrachi - $23,352 Christopher Cummings Bags Monster Lead in Seniors Event Christopher Cummings piled up an astonishing total of 22,650,000 chips which sees him with more than double his nearest competitor after Day 3 of the $1,000-entry Seniors Event, Event #52 on the schedule. Cummings is followed in the chipcounts by Dennis Jensen (9,700,000) and Daniel Lujano (9,325,000) but has one of the biggest leads at this stage of any of this year’s WSOP chip leaders. With just 16 players left from the 148 players who started the day, others didn’t make the cut, with Barry Greenstein (89th for $5,592), Eli Elezra (47th for $11,437) and Pat Lyons (26th for $20,016) all losing their stacks throughout the day. WSOP 2021 Event #53 $1,000 Seniors Championship Top 10 Chipcounts: Christopher Cummings - 22,765,000 Dennis Jensen - 9,700,000 Daniel Lujano - 9,325,000 Eric Sunde - 7,350,000 Todd Hansen - 7,315,000 Stuart Hosen - 7,305,000 Louis Cheffy - 7,065,000 Jonathan Ingalls - 5,850,000 Daniel Stebbins - 5,695,000 Robert Davis - 5,380,000 On a huge day of action in the $400-entry Colossus, Frank Flowers bagged over 1.2 million chips on Day 1b, as he topped the 697 Day 1 survivors, with 778 players from the total of 5,182 entries making the money. A total of 1,181 players will take to the felt on Day 2, the remnants of a total field of 9,399 as The Colossus once again lived up to its name. On Day 1b, Flowers may have risen highest, but he wasn’t the only one to enjoy a day in the sun, as Timothy Keenan (1,172,000) and Dwayne Hillock (1,031,000) both ran him fairly close at the top of the leaderboard. WSOP 2021 Event #55 $400 Colossus Top 10 Chipcounts: Frank Flowers - 1,217,000 Timothy Keenan - 1,172,000 Dwayne Hillock - 1,031,000 Keith Doering - 1,024,000 Andrew Heckman - 1,000,000 Kao Chieng Saechao - 994,000 Eric Stamey - 984,000 Mikhaile Richards - 950,000 Anant Patel - 925,000 Michael Thach - 886,000 On Day 2 of the $10,000-entry Six-Handed Event #56, Bulgarian Boris Kolev (2,185,000) managed to grab the chip lead as he was chased into the chipcounts by Asi Moshe (1,980,000) and Matt Berkey (1,765,000). Other big names in the top 10 include WSOP Main Event final table player Vojtech Rusicka (1,450,000) and Roland Rokita (1,010,000), with nine players from the 19 players who survived topping seven figure stacks. Players such as Bertrand Grospellier, Niklas Astedt, Joao Vieira and Ryan Laplante all failed to progress as the 136 players who began the day were whittled down to less than two dozen who will push to make the final day tomorrow. WSOP 2021 Event #56 $10,000 Six-Handed NLHE Top 10 Chipcounts: Boris Kolev - 2,185,000 Asi Moshe - 1,980,000 Matt Berkey - 1,765,000 Nikita Kuznetsov - 1,560,000 Vojtech Ruzicka - 1,450,000 Ariel Mantel - 1,395,000 Steve Yea - 1,130,000 Fabian Gumz - 1,100,000 Roland Rokita - 1,010,000 Ben Yu - 995,000 The sixth event of the day to take place was the $10,000-entry Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw event, with Shaun Deeb again the highlight. Having just won the $25,000-entry PLO High Roller to claim his fifth bracelet, Deeb late-regged Event #57 and quickly ran up a stack to end the day fourth in chips in a stunning display of both stamina and skill. The chip leader at the end of an 80-entry Day 1 was Danny Wong (340,000), followed as he is in the counts by Michael Trivett (315,000) and Nathan Gamble (257,000) as well as the aforementioned Deeb who sits with 251,000. WSOP 2021 Event #57 $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Top 10 Chipcounts: Danny Wong - 340,000 Michael Trivett - 315,000 Nathan Gamble - 257,000 Shaun Deeb - 251,000 Matt Valeo - 238,000 Aditya Prasetyo - 235,000 Oscar Johansson - 222,000 Kevin Gerhart - 217,000 Michael Noori - 214,000 Brian Yoon - 204,000 Finally, Ronnie Bardah may be a Survivor veteran, but he can’t handle a big chipstack... unless it’s his, presumably. https://twitter.com/RonnieBardah/status/1454528687882137602 As fellow player Jon Aguiar commented, “Tell me your WSOP isn't go well without telling me your WSOP isn't going well.” Hang in there Ronnie, if you can survive to another day, you’ll always be a champion to us.