WPT Ends January with Altman Almost Unstoppable

WPT Ends January with Altman Almost Unstoppable

When the second half of the World Poker Tour’s Season XVIII got underway last month, it also kicked off the part of its season that offers delayed final tables. The first half of the season, with events from the UK to Montreal, from Los Angeles to Atlantic City and Las Vegas, played out their events to completion with no filmed final tables.

The second half of the season that started in January 2020 does offer several tournaments that will delay their final tables. The players will then gather to play at the HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas either at the end of March or the end of May.

With that said, the first tournament of 2020 was the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. And when the action reduced the field to just six players, everyone received sixth-place money and departed. They will play the rest of the tournament in Vegas on March 31. The action will be filmed for a later broadcast on Fox Sports Networks.

January also boasted of other WPT action. Let’s look at how those events played out.

WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open

The second WPT event on the main tour in 2020 took players to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The buy-in for the Main Event was $3,500 with a $2 million guarantee on the prize pool.

The first starting day brought in 423 entries with only 151 players making it through with chips. Day 1B added another 420 entries with 167 of them finishing with chips. That set the tournament numbers as:

–Total entries:  843

–Total prize pool:  $2,697,600

–Total paid players: 106

–Minimum payout:  $5,666

Day 2 started with more than 300 players but whittled that number down greatly, into the money and through to just 54 survivors. Former WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event champion Brian Altman was the chip leader, hoping to become the first player to win the same WPT Main Event twice.

Day 3 played down to 13 players, as names like Jason Young, Joe McKeehen, Lee Markholt, Femi Fashakin, Mike Vela, Anthony Zinno, Darren Elias, Matt Affleck, Mukul Pahuja, and Jake Schwartz busted along the way. Josh Dollinger was that night’s chip leader, but Altman was not far behind.

The next day saw Sam Soverel and James Calderaro exit the field early. Scott Droves ultimately finished in seventh place for $76,078 to end the day. Altman was the chip leader going into the final table on the final day.

When action resumed, Altman started strong and climbed consistently. Dollinger busted Peter Walsworth in sixth place nearly two dozen hands into the day, and Dollinger went on to claim the chip lead. Nadeem Hirani then doubled through Altman, but Altman busted Hirani soon after. Altman then took out Nadya Magnus in fourth place, and he and Dollinger continued to battle for the lead. Chanracy Khun was playing a shorts tack but doubled through each of his opponents to stay in play. Dollinger finally busted him in third place.

Going into heads-up play, Altman showed 12,875,000 chips to the 20.85 million of Dollinger. Altman took the lead and showed a lot of momentum during the match. When Dollinger put his tournament on the line with A-8, Altman called with aces that held up to give him the win and a place in history.

Altman became the first WPT player to win the same event twice, the first Lucky Heart Poker Open win happening back in 2015. But he has numerous other poker titles to his name and more than $4 million in live tournament winnings alone. Altman had deep runs in several WPT events in Season XVIII to that point, even making the final table of the WPT Maryland for a third-place finish and final tabling several events before the WPT Lucky Hearts Main Event.

The final results for this tournament were:

1st place:  Brian Altman ($482,636)

2nd place:  John Dollinger ($311,751)

3rd place:  Chanracy Khun ($230,086)

4th place:  Nadya Magnus ($171,642)

5th place:  Nadeem Hirani ($129,438)

6th place:  Peter Walsworth ($98,686)

WPT Russia

The European team then took the World Poker Tour to Casino Sochi in Russia for the WPT festival of tournaments. The Main Event was a partnership with PartyPoker LIVE, which offered players a chance to play their starting flights online. The ₽210,000 buy-in event offered a ₽95,500,000 guarantee.

That guarantee was forced into place and set the event with these numbers:

–Total entries:  489

–Total prize pool:  ₽95,500,000

–Total paid players:  71

–Minimum payout:  $3,097.19

Day 2 took the players into the money and reduced the field to 69 players, and Day 3 took it down to 12. On the final day, PartyPoker ambassador Anatoly Filatov busted in 11th place, and Vlada Stojanovic led the final table when it was set with nine players. Ultimately, the results of that table were:

1st place:  Aleksey Badulin ($261,571.56)

2nd place:  Vlada Stojanovic ($185,831.25)

3rd place:  Ernest Shakaryan ($135,833.63)

4th place:  Vahe Martirosyan ($102,488.75)

5th place:  Sergey Kharlamov ($78,837.50)

6th place:  Roman Timergazin ($60,254.38)

7th place:  Egor Voitusenko ($46,176.25)

8th place:  Vladimir Lappo ($36,040.00)

9th place:  Dmitriy Ponomarev ($28,719.38)

WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

One of the staples on the WPT Main Tour started on January 26 at the Atlantic City Borgata Casino. Amidst the entire series of Borgata Winter Poker Open events, the Main Event offered a $3,500 buy-in and a $3 million guarantee.

The first starting day delivered 382 entries with 199 surviving the night with chips, and the second day brought in another 683 entries. Quite a few more registered – or reentered – at the start of Day 2, which produced these final tournament numbers:

–Total entries:  1,290

–Total prize pool:  $4,129,290

–Total paid players:  162

–Minimum payout:  $5,886

Day 2 reduced the field to just 174 players, which left it up to Day 3 to burst the money bubble. And when that day turned to night and wrapped up, there were 28 players left with Patrick Serda in the lead and Brian Altman third on the leaderboard.

Day 4 started with the eliminations of Ari Engel and Donald Maloney, followed later by Matthew Waxman and Patrick Serda to the cashier cage. Altman ultimately busted Peter Vitantonio in seventh place for $110,338 to set the final table.

This was the second delayed final table of 2020, so the six remaining players were paid $143,264. They will head to Las Vegas at the end of March to play out their final table on April 1 at the HyperX Esports Arena. Altman will be going for his second WPT title of the year, but Vareeb Zakarian holds the chip lead.

Chip leader:  Vereeb Zakarian (11,990,000 chips)

2nd place:  James Anderson (10,040,000 chips)

3rd place:  Brian Altman (9,865,000 chips)

4th place:  Bin Weng (8,890,000 chips)

5th place:  Andrew Hanna (6,730,000 chips)

6th place:  Nathan Russler (3,990,000 chips)


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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