A total of 1,156 entries were made in the 2019 World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open $3,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event, easily surpassing the tournament’s $3 million guarantee to create a final prize pool of $3,700,356. Six days after the first cards were dealt, it was Donald Maloney that emerged victorious with the title and the top prize of $616,186.
This huge tournament came to a close in a somewhat unusual fashion. After 189 hands at the final table alone, the final three players decided that they wanted to all move in blind and flip for the title. Uke Dauti was the first to move in for 13,025,000 from the button with 53, with Kevin Albers calling for his last 11,775,000 from the small blind holding J3. Maloney had both his opponents covered and called with the 104. The flop came down K53 to give Dauti two pair and the lead. The 6 on the turn gave Maloney some outs to a straight. The 2 on the river completed Maloney’s draw, locking up the pot and the title for the 31-year-old former hockey player.
“The last hand was pretty interesting,” Maloney told WPT reporters after winning. “The guys had decided that they were exhausted and really didn’t want to play anymore, so we decided to do a flip. It went runner-runner straight, so it was definitely meant for me to get the title and I’ll always remember it, I guarantee.”
The two starting flights in this event saw a massive turnout of more than 1,100 entries. It took three more full days of action to narrow the field down to the final six. Plenty of big names made deep runs in this event, including Jonathan Little (36th – $15,527), Aaron Mermelstein (22nd – $21,784), Justin Liberto (19th – $26,240), Vanessa Selbst (14th – $39,950), Ryan D’Angelo (11th – $48,979) and Nick Pupillo (7th – $100,657).
2019 WPT Borgata WInter Poker Open runner-up David Farah entered the final day as the chip leader with six remaining. 2006 WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic main event winner Victor Ramdin came into the day with the shortest stack, and ultimately was the first to hit the rail. Ramdin got his last chips in with KK up against the J8 of Kevin Albers. The 954 flop kept Ramdin well ahead, but the 7 turn gave Albers a gutshot straight draw. The 10 on the rivered filled his straight, earning Albers the pot and sending Ramdin to the rail as the sixth-place finisher with $130,672.
Five handed play continued for more than 11 orbits until the next big showdown arose. With a flop of A75, Jerry Maher got all-in with the 43 for a straight flush draw. Uke Dauti called Maher’s shove with A7 for top two pair. The 7 on the turn left Maher drawing to just the 2. The K gave him a flush, but it wasn;t enough to overcome Dauti’s full house. Maher took home $171,386 as the fifth-place finisher.
It only took 31 more hands for the next elimination to arrive. All the chips got in on a Q759 board, with David Farah holding Q7 for two pair. Maloney had flopped bottom set with the 55, though, and raised all-in to put Farah at risk. Farah called and was in need of a queen or a seven. The 3 was no help and Farah was knocked out in fourth place ($227,077).
The final three players battled it out for more than 20 orbits before making the decision to do a three-way flip. When the final hand arose, Maloney had Uke Dauti and Kevin Albers covered. As the shortest stack to start the hand, Albers was awarded $303,903 as the third-place finisher. Dauti earned $410,787 as the runner-up.
“With a WPT title not only do I feel more accomplished, but it’s literally set in stone that I was a champion at the highest level of poker,” Maloney said after winning. “I’ve definitely had some deep runs these last few years, but I was never a WPT champion. This is feeling really great right now. It hasn’t really set in yet, but I’m super stoked.”
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
Photo credit: WPT / Joe Giron.