Canadian player Eric Afriat won last night the 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open $3,500 Championship for a first-place prize of $651,928 and his second WPT Main Tour title. The player emerged victorious after entering the event’s six-handed final table as the short stack and overcoming huge chip disadvantage.
Afriat won his first WPT title back in 2014, when he topped the behemoth 1,795-strong field of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown for his career’s best cash of $1,081,184. Including last night’s payout, the Canadian now has more than $2.5 million in live tournament winnings.
As mentioned above, the player entered the official final table of the Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event with the shortest of all six stacks. However, keeping his composure and playing systematically through that final stage of the game, he eventually took control over the action to capture the prestigious title and the first-place payout.
The remaining six players, led by Zach Gruneberg who had a massive chip lead on the final day of play, did not waste time, and the first elimination of that closing stage of the tournament occurred only after 16 hands.
Stephen Song left in sixth place, good for $138,254. It then took a little while before another player busted. Michael Marder was that unfortunate one to leave in fifth place. The player was eliminated on Hand #59, and collected the amount of $181,329 for his performance.
Hand #72 of the day saw former WSOP Main Event Champion Joe McKeehen leave in fourth place for $240,251. Gruneberg was still the chip leader at that point in play. However, he began losing momentum in the hands that followed, until he was eliminated in third place on Hand #125. The player’s share of the prize pool totaled $321,533.
Afriat faced Justin Zaki heads-up. The two-handed match began with the latter holding massive chip lead over his last remaining opponent. The two players battled it out for precisely 100 hands before the name of the champion became clear.
During that time, chips swung back and forth, until Afriat eventually managed to switch the position of the player who struggled to survive for the one of the player who put the pressure at the table.
By the time the final hand was dealt, the Canadian champion had more than 14 times more chips than his opponent. On Hand #225, Zaki shoved for his last 2.4 million and Afriat called, turning over the [Ks][2s]. Zaki had the [10h][5d]. The [Qc][7d][5s][2h][2c] appeared on the table to secure Afriat with the title and the first-place prize. Hitting the rail in second place, Zaki collected $434,614 from the event.
Aside from the first-place prize, Afriat also won an automatic $15,000 seat into the season-ending tournament of champions, as well as a WPT Champions Trophy and a Borgata Winter Poker Open trophy to remember his triumph.