The final table was set in the Monster World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions on Saturday with Jonathan Jaffe leading the way with 996,000 in chips. The last six players will return on Sunday at 4 p.m. local time to play down to a winner in the inaugural event, and what a final table it is going to be.
WPT Tournament of Champions Final Table
Day 2 of the tournament took place on Saturday with 31 of the 64 entrants returning to action. The top eight spots were set to pay out, and after the elimination of Justin Young in 10th place, the final nine joined at one table to burst the bubble. The last person to go home empty-handed proved to be Ravi Raghavan, earning the unwanted title of "bubble boy."
On his final hand, Raghavan was all in with the and racing against the of Noah Schwartz. The flop and turn kept Raghavan in the lead, but the on the river nailed Schwartz with the winning hand to bust Raghavan out on the bubble.
With his elimination, the top eight finishes reached the money, with a minimum payout worth $38,160. Yevgeniy Timoshenko was the first to bust, falling in eighth place to Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi. Then, to finish out the day and set the official WPT final table, Andy Frankenberger short stack finally succumbed and he busted in seventh to Schwartz, earning $47,700.
Winning that final hand of the day allowed Schwartz to bag up 532,000 in chips, which was good enough for third place on the leaderboard heading into Sunday's finale.
"It's amazing," Schwartz said of reaching the final table of this event. "I already won one tournament in this actual room, an Alpha8, so I'm really excited. It's my hometown, so it really means a lot. Plus, it's the Tournament of Champions, and the first one ever. I know I've got stiff competition to play against, but it's nothing I can't overcome."
Joining Jaffe and Schwartz on Sunday will be Mizrachi, Darren Elias, Farid Yachou, and Vlad Darie. Mizrachi and Elias are both two-time WPT winners.
"It's different, and it's versus people I know," Elias said when asked about reaching the final table in this event and where it ranks amongst his other WPT successes. "I wouldn't say it ranks higher than winning an open WPT event, and it's just got a different feel to it. It's really cool to have an event like this, an invite-only event with a lot of tough players, so it's different in that way. If I were to win the event then that would rank up there with my other wins.
"I feel good going into tomorrow's final table. I had the chip lead on the bubble, and I lost a big pot to Jonathan, then a big pot to Grinder, but I'm happy where I am. I'm feeling good and I know these players, so I should be all right."
For Yachou, this performance is truly helping to put him on the map, and he's a unique competitor amongst this group. While his five opponents have many cashes each, Yachou has only one cash on his live tournament résumé and it's his WPT title win from Amsterdam in May 2015. Not only that, but Yachou is making his first-ever trip to America. He's already guaranteed $58,300 on his maiden voyage to the States, and the dream could really come true if he's able to climb out from the bottom to earn a victory.
The winner of this event is set to earn $381,600 and a plethora of other prizes, including a 2016 Corvette, courtesy of Monster. The winner will also receive a Hublot King Power Unico Titanium watch, an Aurae® Solid Gold MasterCard, a pair of gold Monster® 24K Headphones, a custom premium poker table from BBO Poker Tables, a seat in Tiger's Poker Night Presented by World Poker Tour, and a round of golf for you and two guests at the world-class Shadow Creek Golf Course with Matt Savage. All told, the additional prizes are estimated to be worth more than $150,000.
As mentioned, the final table will have the cards in the air at 4 p.m. local time at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Stay tuned to PokerNews.com to find out who takes down the inaugural WPT Tournament of Champions.
*Photo courtesy of Joe Giron/WPT.