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Shawn Cunix Wins World Poker Tour Jacksonville BestBet Open

Shawn Cunix

The World Poker Tour Jacksonville BestBet Open concluded Wednesday after Shawn Cunix defeated the likes of Will Failla and Tony Dunst and took home the $400,600 first prize and a $25,500 WPT Championship seat.

Cunix began the day as chip leader and never let up on the gas as he quickly dispatched Failla, the WPT Player of the Year points leader, on Hand #40. According to the WPT Live Updates Team, with the blinds at 20,000/40,000 and a 5,000 ante, Cunix raised to 100,000 from middle position, and Failla thought about it for a minute before calling from the big blind. The flop came down {10-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{7-Clubs} and Failla quickly moved all in for 265,000. Cunix insta-called with {J-Clubs}{10-Spades} for top pair and a gut shot straight flush draw, while Failla turned up {Q-Clubs}{J-Diamonds} for a higher flush draw and straight draw.

The {A-Spades} turn changed nothing, and neither did the {5-Diamonds} river, giving Cunix the win with a pair of tens. After that pot, Cunix moved up to 4,710,000 in chips, and Failla was eliminated in sixth place for $57,704. It may not have been the fairytale ending Failla wanted, but his performance secured his place atop of the WPT POY leaderboard.

Dunst, whom you may recall from the WPT's Raw Deal segment, was the next to go later in that same level. On Hand #48, Dunst moved all in from the button for 515,000 and Darren Elias called him from the big blind. Dunst showed the {K-Hearts}{3-Hearts} and needed help against Elias’ {A-Clubs}{9-Hearts}.

The board ran out {10-Diamonds}{6-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}{Q-Spades}{2-Diamonds} and Dunst was out in fifth place for $66,532. Meanwhile, Elias moved up to 1,530,000 in chips.

Daniel Buzgon fell shortly thereafter on Hand #73. With the blinds then at 25,000/50,000 with a 5,000 ante, Buzgon shoved all in from under the gun with {K-Hearts}{Q-Hearts} and James Calderaro thought about it for a moment from the big blind before making the call with {A-Spades}{J-Clubs}.

The flop gave Calderaro a bit of a sweat as it came down {A-Clubs}{J-Hearts}{9-Clubs}, giving him top two but also giving Buzgon outs to a straight. The {7-Hearts} turn gave Calderaro even more of a sweat as it gave Buzgon extra outs to a flush. But the {4-Clubs} river was a blank, sealing the deal and eliminating Buzgon in fourth place for $94,624.

It was around this time that Calderaro went on a massive heater and eventually picked up the chip lead in a three-way pot. On Hand #89, with the blinds at 30,000/60,000 with a 10,000 ante, Elias raised to 125,000 from the button, Calderaro called from the small blind, and Cunix called from the big blind.

The flop came down {9-Hearts}{7-Spades}{3-Clubs} and both Calderaro and Cunix check-called a bet of 160,000 from Elias. The turn was the {6-Diamonds}, and Calderaro checked again. This time, Cunix fired out a bet of 500,000. Elias tank-called and Calderaro thought for about 30 seconds before he check-raised to 1.1 million. Elias and Cunix quickly folded and Calderaro took down the 2,385,000 pot and the chip lead.

Twenty hands later, Elias was eliminated in third place when he raised to 150,000 from the small blind, Calderaro reraised to 375,000 from the big blind, and Elias shoved all in. Calderaro insta-called with {10-Diamonds}{10-Hearts} and Elias turned up his {A-Clubs}{K-Clubs}.

Then the board ran out {9-Spades}{5-Hearts}{2-Hearts}{7-Spades}{6-Clubs} offering Elias no help as he exited in third place for $147,850, leaving Calderaro and Cunix to battle heads up.

Here’s how things looked when heads up play started:

PlayerChip CountBig Blinds
Calderaro5,610,00093 BBs
Cunix3,970,00066 BBs

On hand 138, Cunix retook the chip lead when he three-bet preflop and got Calderaro to fold. On hand 143, Cunix increased that lead even more. With the blinds at 50,000/100,000 and a 10,000 ante, Cunix limped and Calderaro checked. Both players checked the {A-Spades}{9-Hearts}{7-Spades} flop, but then Calderaro fired out a bet of 200,000 on the {6-Hearts} turn, which Cunix called. The river was the {7-Hearts} and Calderaro bet 200,000, only to be raised to 500,000 by Cunix. Calderaro didn’t think long before calling, but was disappointed with Cunix showed {7-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds} for rivered trips.

It was on hand 154 when all the money went into the middle. Cunix moved all in for 8.1 million with {3-Hearts}{3-Spades}, and Calderaro thought briefly before calling with {J-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds}. The board ran out {7-Spades}{5-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}{9-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}, giving Cunix a set of threes and the $400,600 first prize; meanwhile, Calderaro’s runner up finish earned him $236,000.

Cunix’s win came with a $25,500 buy-in to the season ending WPT World Championship later this month at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, as well as his name engraved into the WPT Champions Cup.

WPT Jacksonville BestBet Open Final Table Results

1stShawn Cunix$400,600 (includes $25,500 WPT World Championship seat)
2ndJames Calderaro$236,560
3rdDarren Elias$147,850
4thDaniel Buzgon$94,624
5thTony Dunst$66,532
6thWill Failla$54,704

*Hands referenced from the WPT Live Updates Team.

*Photo courtesy of BJ Nemeth at

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