Chris Leong took down defending champion Aaron Mermelstein – along with 1,170 other entrants – at the World Poker Tour Winter Poker Open Championship at the Borgata last weekend.
Just six players survived to the final day and Leong, a New York Native, was the short stack entering the final table. But he fought his way to the title and a payday that more than doubled his previous lifetime earnings. Before this big score ($816,246), Leong won the Borgata Spring Poker Open Event #7 $300 No-Limit Hold’em Deep Stack for $52,151 and placed third in the Phamous Poker Series $100L Maker for $66,171.
The first elimination of the final day came during Level 31. Matthew Wantman held Q♢, Q♡ and called when Rafael Yaraliyev raised with A♢, K♢. Yaraliyev hit a pair on the flop (A♤, 8♤, 7♧) and the rest was history. Wantman hit the rail with $166,803 for his efforts.
From there,Yevgeniy Timoshenko (2009 World Poker Tour champion) fell in fifth. Joe McKeehen followed when he went all-in with K♢, Q♡ after Yaraliyev’s pre-flop, 400,000 bet under the gun. Yaraliyev (A♤, 10♤) again hit a pair of aces on the flop (A♡, K♧, J♤), which held up against McKeehen’s kings. .
Liam He went out in third, pitting Yaraliyev and Leong in heads-up play. Yaraliyev held 21.8 million of the 35 million chips in play and it took nearly 200 hands for Leong to earn the title. On hand #199 of the final table, Leong (A♧, 8♤) shoved all-in and Yaraliyev called with a Q♧, Q♡. The flop gave Leong the ace (A♢, 6♢, 4♤). A J♢ on the turn meant Yaraliyev needed a queen on the river. Unfortunately for him, a 5♧ sent him home with the consolation prize.
Final table results:
(Photo credit: Grant Guarino, Creative Commons).
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