Perhaps it’s time to change the World Poker Tour’s name to the Brian Altman Invitational — at least for events in the state of Florida. The reigning WPT Player of the Year picked up right where he left off at the end of Season XVIII, taking the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa title for $613,225.
Altman bagged the chip lead after Day 3 and headed to Tuesday’s final session with a golden opportunity to get to within one World Poker Tour title of Darren Elias, who holds the record with four.
Early in the session on Day 4, he extended his chip lead and forced the rest of the field to play catch-up all day. The only problem for the other players was that they never came close to catching up. Altman completely obliterated the competition on Day 4 prior to the start of the final table, and then extended his lead even further at the final table.
Altman never squandered the lead
When the final table began, Altman had 160 big blinds. Jonathan Jaffe, also a previous WPT champion, was in second place with 55 big blinds. The other four players were short-stacked, though two of them would hang on for quite some time.
Will Berry was the first to go at the final table, busting in sixth place for $129,825. John Haas was next out the door in fifth place, good for $170,275. Jaffe couldn’t hang on any longer and was out in fourth place when his pocket 6’s couldn’t come from behind to beat Altman’s pocket 8’s. The 2014 Partypoker.net WPT Montreal champ received $225,675 for his efforts.
Zachary Smiley, the third previous WPT champion at the final table, nursed a short stack for quite some time before finally taking a stand with Q-3, only to run into Altman’s A-Q. The board ran out 9-6-2-10-2, and Smiley was out in third place, which paid $302,200.
That set up a heads-up match between Altman, who had a 3.5-1 chip advantage, and Gabriel Abusada. Despite trailing by a wide margin, Abusada didn’t back down and surrender. He battled back and closed the gap to about a 1.5-1 disadvantage before running his pocket 6s into Altman’s pocket jacks on the final hand. With the money getting all-in preflop, Abusada didn’t get any help from the K-9-7-10-5 board.
Abusada took home $408,825 for second while Altman received $613,225 for beating a massive field of 1,162 players in the $3,500 event.
The win was Altman’s third career World Poker Tour title — all in the state of Florida. His first two were in the Lucky Hearts Poker Open at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood in 2014 and again in 2020. Over the past two WPT seasons, he’s posted two victories and a pair of third-place finishes. During the 2019-2021 season, he won Player of the Year.