Bin Weng put himself on the cusp of history by winning the $3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown that came to an end on the massive set at Luxor’s HyperX arena last night. It was the first of three delayed WPT final tables that are taking place this week. The $3,800 main at Choctaw wraps-up today, and the $5,200 Gardens Poker Championship tomorrow.
“(Winning a WPT title) was one of my main goals, when I started to play poker (full time) back in 2019,” Weng said. “It means a lot to me, definitely.”
He won $1.1 million, and is playing for another possible $400,740 today.
Weng, 40, already made history by making final tables in back-to-back events for delayed tables by cracking the top six in both the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown that was held April 28 to May 2 and at WPT Choctaw, which started only three days later.
Weng entered the final table with 40% of chips in the match and seemed to be unstoppable as he took out player after player to build a 4-to-1 advantage for the heads-up match with online specialist Sri Sangannagari, but he saw the script flipped into a grueling battle that took longer than the first four eliminations.
Coming in, Weng was minted table boss simply by the massive stack of 154 big blinds that sat in front of him, and things kept getting better as took out the first four players in about the first two hours of play on the WPT set.
Starting stacks at final table
- Bin Weng — 46,050,000 (154 bb)
- Sridhar Sangannagari — 19,100,000 (64 bb)
- Mitch Garshofsky — 18,550,000 (62 bb)
- David Mzareulov — 13,350,000 (45 bb)
- Jack Thu — 13,250,000 (44 bb)
- Rafael Farah — 4,275,000 (14 bb)
The first elimination should have put the kind of doom in the hearts of the other players when running into a man who is not only supremely skilled, but who seems to have gained possession of some sort of magical lucky amulet.
Only a few hands after the players were introduced and play started, he called Rafael Farah’s short-stack all-in with pockets threes. Farah had two jacks, but was sent back to Peru when a three hit the flop. Farah’s sixth-place finish paid $238,000, his biggest score.
Yep, that’s how good things have been going for Weng in 2023. He started the year with his first $1 million cash at The Borgata: The Return. A month later he won his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring in Las Vegas for $227,344. On May 12, he finished second in a $25,000 events at The Lodge in Texas for $145,000.
In between those major pops, he cashed in another 20 tournaments in events of all buy-in values, like the $350 tourney at the Live! Poker Classic in Maryland, good for $875. This guy plays volume live. In 2023, he’s averaging a poker tournament cash about every six days.
So it was no surprise that he took out the players, one by one. After Farah, Weng eliminated Jack Thu with a better ace. His $312,000 win is nearly 10 times more than his lifetime total.
Weng knocked out David Mzareulov next by winning a race, which gave him 70% of chips in play. Mzareulov’s $413,000 payday pushed him over the $1 million lifetime winnings mark.
Next to go was Mitch Garshofsky, the affable Las Vegas resident who also scored his best poker tournament cash in this event. The $550,000 payday pushed him over the $2 million mark. Weng was a 60/40 favorite in this hand after Garshofsky shoved with his short-stack with 6 5 against Weng’s A Q.
But Sangannagari, behind 143 big blinds, would not relent and at one point was an 80% favorite to put his name on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup, but luck wouldn’t have it.
Trouble at the head
The heads-up match began with Weng holding 186 bbs to Sangannagari’s 43. But Sangannagari, dressed in a PokerStars hoodie pulled up over his head, chipped away at Weng’s stack until a bluff going wrong nearly changed the outcome.
With blinds at 300K/600k/600k, Sangannagari called out of the small blind with K 5. Holding J 6, Weng checked and the flop came 7 K 4. Weng checked, and Sangannagari min bet. After a moment, and maybe sensing trepidation, Weng check-raised to 2.15 million. He was called.
This misread nearly cost Weng the day.
With an A on the turn, Weng continued his charade with a 5.35 million bet. Sniffing something funny, Sangannagari called with Weng drawing dead.
The river was a 9. Shortly after using one of his time extensions, Weng made a nearly pot-sized bet of 16.45 million. Within 30 seconds, Sangannagari flipped a chip in the middle, snapping his eyes toward his opponent. Weng shook his head and slumped as he turned over his cards.
For the first time in almost a month, there was a new chip leader of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.
Sangannagari now had 65.7% of the chips (75,250,000) to Weng’s 34.3% (39,325,000). Weng was in trouble.
A short time later, a golden example of how brutal and straight-up odd the game of poker can be came in a hand that Sangannagari will carry with him forever.
With 7 7, Weng limped in only to be raised 2.4 million by Sangannagari and his two queens. Livestream commentator Jamie Kerstetter noted that the raise was small enough to allow Weng to avoid an all-in conflict in this spot, and that’s exactly what played out when he called.
Have you ever ran hotter than the sun? Yeah, me neither. It’s like Weng called a waitress in the sky right there from the table and he ordered himself the hand.
“How do you like you pocket sevens, sir?” said the shimmering voice on the other end.
“How about with a flop of 827 against a man holding two ladies,” Weng replied to the Universe.
It could have been over, but instead, the players were about even. Within a few hands, Sangannagari gained a slight lead that wouldn’t last.
With J 10 on the button, Weng raised and was called by K 4. The flop came a very dangerous K 9 3 for Sangannagari, who check-called a bet. With a 2 on the turn, Sangannagari checked again.
With a flush and a gunshot straight draw, Weng fired his third barrel. Sangannagari check-raised and Weng made the call. A Q on the river gave Weng his straight. Instead of taking his foot off the gas, Sangannagari went all-in and drove directly into a wall.
The coup de gras came a few hands later, with Sangannagari holding eight big blinds, finding himself all-in with J 3 against Weng’s K 9. The hand held and Weng’s first leg of his exacta was complete.
WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown top six payouts
- Bin Weng — $1.1 million
- Sridhar Sangannagari — $745,000
- Mitch Garshofsky — $550,000
- David Mzareulov –$413,000
- Jack Thu — $312,000
- Rafael Farah — $238,000
Weng returns to the HyperX Arena today (May 26) to try to finish the WPT Choctaw the same way. Fans can view the entire final table strarting at 4:30 p.m PT Starting today on the WPT YouTube channel, Twitch channel, and Facebook, as well as OTT platforms WatchWPT, Plex and DistroTV.
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