Over the course of three days, starting from March 11, three WPT final tables played out at the HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas as part of televised coverage. The $3 Million GTD WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open (WPO) Championship event was the last of the three events to be held at the arena, after the WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event and the Season XVII WPT Gardens Poker Championship Main Event, with all three events being live streamed on Poker Central and PokerGO.
The Championship event has finally culminated and crowned a champion in Vinicius “Viny” Lima (cover image) who bagged his maiden WPT title, along with a career-best score of $728,430!
The event had attracted 1,415 entries across two starting flights, and the field narrowed down to 177 runners on Day 2. By the time Day 3 concluded, only 29 were left standing. The elimination of Steven Sarmiento in seventh place on Day 4 set up the final table for the event. The play was halted here and resumed on March 13 to play down to a winner at the HyperX Esports Arena.
Lima was the shortest stack at the start of the final table, but he steadily worked his way to the top and brought about the eliminations of Daniel Buzgon, Brandon Hall, Joseph Di Rosa and eventual runner-up and start-of-the-day chip leader Dave Farah. Lima’s dream run in the event not only brought him the title and top prize but also a $15,000 entry into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal Tournament of Champions and a Hublot Big Bang Steel Watch!
Talking about his strategy for the final table, the 24-year-old player said, “Step one was planning on never going broke today. I was very fortunate to have good energy with me and ran good at good times, and when I was all in, I held up. I just battled and was very fortunate to have won this thing. It’s surreal and unbelievable.”
Lima had a very boisterous and vocal rail supporting him throughout the event. “It was the loudest thing I’ve ever witnessed live,” he said. “My friends and family came out and everybody was great. Every hand I won, they were making noise. The hands I wasn’t in, they were making noise. It made the whole experience a thousand times better.”
But perhaps his most ardent support came from fellow poker player and 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Scott Blumstein. The two met when Blumstein was looking for an extra player for his basketball team.
“I needed to pick up some players and he came over and we had a conversation about playing poker,” Blumstein said. “He asked me if I played poker, but the whole time I think he kind of knew.”
Narrating the story of how Lima came to play at the event, Blumstein said, “I told him I was heading home to play the WPT at Borgata. I told him if he could find a flight to come on out. He couldn’t find one at first, but last-second he found a connecting flight in Canada and hopped off in Philly. He was determined to make a run and here he is.” The rest as they say was history.
India’s poker pioneer and PokerStars India Team Pro Aditya Agarwal was also seen in action at the event. His previous best score at the series was his 35th place finish in the WPT Borgata Championship Re-Entry for $15,109 (₹10.69 Lakhs) in September 2014. He had qualified for Day 2 of the Championship event with a workable stack of 89,600 but hit the rail before the money bubble.
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Dave Farah – 18,850,000
2. Brandon Hall – 14,100,000
3. Daniel Buzgon – 9,100,000
4. Joseph Di Rosa Rojas – 5,800,000
5. Ian O’Hara – 5,100,000
6. Vinicius Lima – 3,550,000
Final Table Recap
11 hands into the final table, the first elimination took place. The player in question was Ian O’Hara. O’Hara’s were no match for Brandon Hall’s , ensuring the former’s sixth-place exit.
Vinicius Lima then moved all in from the small blind with and found a caller in Daniel Buzgon who held . A flop of saw Lima surge ahead with top pair, and the rest of the board was meaningless for Buzgon who got up to leave in fifth place.
Next to go was Brandon Hall who moved all-in from under-the-gun with pocket deuces but found Lima making the call with pocket jacks. The board blanked Hall, and he collected a fourth-place payout.
Joseph Di Rosa was eliminated in third place after his was busted by Lima’s . The flop fell giving Lima a two pair while Rojas managed to pair his queen. He still had outs, but the on the turn and the on the river ended it for him.
The heads-up kicked off between Dave Farah and Lima where the latter held 22,200,000 against Farah’s 34,400,000 but soon overtook him.
In the final hand, Farah moved all-in for 6,300,000 from the button and Lima instantly called from the big blind. The cards were tabled.
Farah was at risk and trailing. When the landed on the flop, both players connected with a pair but Farah was at a disadvantage. Farah needed a five or nine to stay in the game but the rolled off on the turn and the coming up next on the river meant that Farah was eliminated in second place, while the trophy and the top prize went to Lima.
Final Table Results (USD)
1. Vinicius Lima – $728,430*
2. Dave Farah – $485,611
3. Joseph Di Rosa Rojas – $359,555
4. Brandon Hall – $268,810
5. Daniel Buzgon – $202,942
6. Ian O’Hara – $154,734
*includes a $15,000 entry into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal Tournament of Champions
Content & Images Courtesy: World Poker Tour