Maloney Wins WPT Borgata Poker Open
The World Poker Tour kicked off its 18th season in July. It hosted its first two events on the main tour in Southern California, and it finally headed to the East Coast to participate in the annual Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City.
The first main tour event of Season XVIII was the WPT Gardens Poker Festival in late July, which resulted in Roger Teska claiming the World Poker Tour title.
More than a month later, the WPT Legends of Poker played out at the Bicycle Casino, also in the Los Angeles area. When it was over, Aaron Van Blarcum won it to become the WPT’s newest champion.
That took the action across the country to New Jersey. As the Borgata Poker Open played out at the Borgata, the World Poker Tour set up to host the Main Event, and Donald Maloney set up to win it.
Bigger Numbers in 2019
Season XVIII didn’t get underway with the bang everyone hoped for. The WPT Gardens Poker Festival saw registration down by more than 200 entries. And since the Legends didn’t have a Main Tour stop the previous year, there was no comparison to make there.
But leave it to the Borgata players to step up in big numbers.
The WPT Borgata Main Event began on September 15 with a $3,500 buy-in and a $3 million prize pool guarantee.
The first of two starting days delivered 271 entries, though only 129 of the players survived to play again. The second starting day brought in a massive 707 entries, putting the total up to 978 to that point. Only 389 players bagged chips at the end of Day 1B.
Registration remained open until the start of Day 2, and the final numbers were eventually announced as:
Total entries: 1,156
Total prize pool: $3,700,356
Players paid: 145
Minimum payout: $5,797
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) September 17, 2019
Not only did the sizeable field surpass the guarantee, it surpassed the number of entrants in last year’s WPT Borgata Poker Open by 81 entries.
Finding the Final Table
When Day 2 came to an end, the money bubble had just burst, and play stopped with 145 players remaining and all in the money.
Jonathan Jaffe was the chip leader with 1,035,000 chips at that point, and a man named Donald Maloney was down a bit on the leaderboard with 327K chips.
Day 3 whittled the field down to just 24 players, with Kevin Albers as the new chip leader holding 4.34 million worth of chips. Names like Victor Ramdin and Vanessa Selbst had solid stacks, and Maloney was eighth in chips with 2,505,000 of them.
Day 4 moved toward the final table, and former WPT champion Aaron Mermelstein was one of the first to exit. Selbst ended up finishing in 14th place, Ryan D’Angelo in 11th, and former WPT champion Mike Linster out in 8th place. Nick Pupillo busted in seventh place for $100,657.
That set the final table for September 20 with these stacks:
David Farah = 14,325,000 chips
Uke Dauti = 8,725,000 chips
Kevin Albers = 7,975,000 chips
Donald Maloney = 6,000,000 chips
Jerry Maher = 5,550,000 chips
Victor Ramdin = 3,575,000 chips
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) September 20, 2019
Maloney’s Road to Victory
Previous WPT champion Ramdin knew what it would take to win, so he began making moves early but failed to gain much ground. Albers lost ground from the start but then doubled through Farah to stay alive. And Dauti was aggressive enough to take over the chip lead.
After the first break, Farah took his chip lead back, and Ramdin shoved with pocket kings. Albers called with J-8 but rivered a straight to oust Ramdin in sixth place.
Maloney was the short stack after 50 hands and shoved several times with no takers. As Alberts moved into the chip lead, Maloney took some small hands to stay in the game and get off the low end of the leaderboard. Maher took over that position and then put his 4-3 of clubs on the line with a straight and flush draw on the flop against top two pair for Dauti. But Dauti made a full house and ousted Maher in fifth place.
After 100 hands, Maloney was the shortest of the four stacks, and Dauti was the runaway chip leader, eventually moving over 20 million chips. Maloney doubled through Albers. And when Farah moved all-in with Q-7 on a 7-Q-5-9 board, Maloney called with pocket fives, which held up to oust Farah in fourth.
Albers was the shortest stack but doubled through Dauti. Maloney took a big pot from Dauti, climbing into the chip lead for the first time at the final table.
And then it all came to a head on the 190th hand of the final table, still three-handed. This was not long after the three players took an unscheduled break to chat.
Dauti moved all-in with 5d-3h, Albers called all-in with Jh-3d, and Malone called both players with Tc-4h. The board came Kd-5h-3c-6c-2d, making a straight for Maloney for the win.
1st place: Donald Maloney ($616,186)
2nd place: Uke Dauti ($410,787)
3rd place: Kevin Albers ($303,903)
4th place: Dave Farah ($227,077)
5th place: Jerry Maher ($171,386)
6th place: Victor Ramdin ($130,672)
The 31-year-old Maloney, an entrepreneur and former minor league hockey pro, collected his first WPT title.
“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." – Donald Maloney wins #WPTBorgata for his first major tournament win. Winner's story from @PokerTraditions. https://t.co/1i2Ubwu21j pic.twitter.com/9YN0Gw4yGv
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) September 21, 2019