Teska Wins WPT Gardens Poker Festival

Teska Wins WPT Gardens Poker Festival

The World Poker Tour kicked off its 18th season of live tournaments this month with the WPT Gardens Poker Festival in Southern California.

With a plethora of events already on the Season XVIII schedule through 2019 and more to be announced for the first half of 2020, the WPT got it all underway at the Gardens Casino in the Los Angeles area, not far from the home offices of the WPT.

Attendance was solid but not up to the numbers it produced last year at the same location. It may not have been the newsworthy launch for which they had hoped, but most of the season is yet to come.

And in the end, a man named Roger Teska won the WPT Main Event and more than $368K for it.

Starting Action

The Gardens Poker Festival actually began on July 12 at the Southern California card room, but it was the WPT Gardens Poker Festival Main Event that brought it all together. The $5K buy-in offered two starting days – July 20-21 – and late registration into Day 2. And a single reentry each day was available to each player.

Day 1A brought in 122 entries, and there were 56 players who made it through the night with chips. Cord Garcia was that night’s chip leader with 265,700 of them.

Day 1B added another 171 entries, but approximately 100 of them were still in the tournament when play stopped. Michael Kamran was that night’s leader with 207K chips, though he was behind Garcia.

Quite a few more players got into the tournament before registration closed on July 22, and it brought the totals up:

Total entries:  373

Total prize pool:  $1,753,100

Paid players:  47

Minimum payout:  $9,330

Winner payout:  $368,475

Day 2 thinned the field down to 54 players with Lior Orel in the chip lead holding 1,005,000 chips.

Getting to the Final Table

It didn’t take long on Day 3 to burst the money bubble. It happened when Joel Feldman and Tam Nguyen busted at the same time, so they split 47th-place money for $4,665 each.

The eliminations then moved forward at a heightened pace, with players like Jared Jaffee, Daniel Strelitz, Max Pescatori, Will Givens, Chris DeMaci, and Adam Weinraub among them. Elio Fox took 18th place, Dan Fleyshman took 16th, and James Calderaro took 12th place to end the day. Eric Hicks was the night’s chip leader with 3,060,000 in his bag.

Day 4 started with Nipun Java out in 11th place for $28,445, and he was followed by Eric Wong, Vladimir Vasilyev, and Maria Ho. Finally, Hicks was eliminated in seventh place for $56,860.

The final table was set as follows:

Lior Orel (USA) – 3,245,000 chips

Roger Teska (USA) – 2,970,000 chips

Laszlo Molnar (Hungary) – 2,855,000 chips

Lars Kamphues (Germany) – 2,540,000 chips

Cord Garcia (USA) – 1,880,000 chips

Andrew Wisdom (USA) – 1,435,000 chips

The Path to a WPT Title

Teska didn’t take long to grab the chip lead, courtesy of a pot with Garcia. Kamphues then ousted Garcia on the 17th hand of the day and did the same to Wisdom on the 23rd. That put Kamphues into the lead, though Teska and Orel stayed aggressive.

Four-handed play lasted for hours, as all of the players exchanged chips, double-ups, and chip leads. On the 137th hand of the night, Teska busted Kamphues, and 50 hands later, Molnar took out Orel.

That put Molnar into heads-up play with 12,275,000 chips against the 2,650 of Teska, but the latter immediately doubled up. They played for quite some time before Molnar finally put his tournament life at risk with K-Q suited against the A-6 of Teska, and ace-high took it for the win.

1st place:  Roger Teska ($368,475)

2nd place:  Laszlo Molnar ($235,615)

3rd place:  Lior Orel ($172,770)

4th place:  Lars Kamphues ($128,320)

5th place:  Andrew Wisdom ($96,545)

6th place:  Cord Garcia ($73,600)

In addition to the cash for his first WPT title, Teska also won a $15K seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions and a 2019 BMX X1 car worth about $40K. He said he would give that car to his mother.

Numbers Not There

While the kickoff tournament for the WPT’s Season XVIII was a good one, it doesn’t come near the success of last year’s event.

Held at the same card room in conjunction with the same poker festival, the WPT Gardens Poker Festival Main Event in 2018 drew 584 entries and a $2,944,800 prize pool.

Since many players seem to enjoy the Gardens Casino as a poker venue, it is unclear what would’ve prompted the decline, other than simple poker fatigue from the summer in Las Vegas and a plethora of other tournament options with lower buy-ins.

With that said, the WPT will soldier on and prepare for its next stop, still in Los Angeles but at the Bicycle Casino. The WPT Legends of Poker will begin on August 31 and offer another $5K buy-in Main Event.


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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