Darren Elias Goes for Second WPT Title of the Week, Leads TOC Final
Darren Elias will attempt to make World Poker Tour history twice in one week.
He broke the record for most WPT titles on Wednesday when he won the Bobby Baldwin Classic for number four. On Saturday, he will try to capture back-to-back titles in the same season for the second time at the WPT Tournament of Champions final table, which will be held at the Esports Arena Las Vegas at the Luxor.
He already accomplished that very feat in 2014 after winning WPT Borgata Poker Open followed by WPT Caribbean and was the first to do so. He’s hoping to carry the momentum he has right now through to get another win this week.
"hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow and get another one."
“I hope it keeps going like today," he said. "Wins kind of come in bunches in poker I think and when you’re winning, you’re more confident and maybe you’re playing better, so hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow and get another one.”
Elias had started Day 2 seventh in chips out of 29, and got short multiple times in the first half of the day. He proceeded to win every all in to stay alive each time he got in the danger zone, including a key one through Erik Seidel when there were 13 players left, three spots from the money. Elias got it in with king-seven of clubs in the big blind after Seidel completed in the small blind with ace-eight and a seven on the flop gave Elias the double.
After that, he ran pure, eliminating Seidel with ace-queen against Seidel’s jack-ten, then sending Nam Le home in ninth place. He had a healthy middling stack at dinner break with eight left and proceeded to rapidly grow his stack at the unofficial final table, going from 551,000 to 1.4 million in the final 1.5 levels before bagging.
Elias had a healthy middling stack at dinner break with eight left and proceeded to rapidly grow his stack at the unofficial final table, going from 551,000 to 1.4 million in the final 1.5 levels before bagging.
Here’s a look at the seating and chip counts to start the 4 p.m. televised final table Saturday.
|Seat||Player||Country||Chip Count||Big Blinds|
|2||Darren Elias||United States||1,400,000||140|
|3||Matthew Waxman||United States||554,000||55|
|4||Nick Schulman||United States||447,000||45|
Day 2 Action
Leading up to the final table, the eliminations went rather quickly in the first part of the day. Stefan Schillhabel, Ryan Tosoc and recently-crowned Hublot WPT Player of the Year Art Papazyan were all eliminated in the first level. Before the first break, Harry Arutyunyan, Griffin Paul, Pete Chen, Mike Del Vecchio, John Hennigan and Mohsin Charania all followed them to the rail.
With two tables left, Noah Schwartz, Erik Seidel and Eric Afriat all fell before the money bubble, and start of day chip leader Dennis Blieden was the unfortunate bubble boy. He got his last 27 big blinds in after limp-calling for his stack with ace-queen in the small blind, up against the of Matas Cimbolas in the big blind. A jack on the turn ended Blieden’s bid for back-to-back tournament wins, the LAPC he shipped on March 1 being the last one he played.
Before dinner break, Justin Young (10th - $39,840) and Nam Le (9th - $39,840) were the first two to bust in the money, and things were quiet for a bit after dinner.
A flurry of activity ended the night though, starting with Sam Panzica’s exit in eighth place ($45,175) when his ace-king was no match for the kings of Cimbolas.
The hand that propelled Elias into the overnight chip lead was the last one of the night immediately after Panzica's exit, where he eliminated both Ryan Riess (7th - $53,985) and J.C. Tran (6th - $67,800).
With blinds at 5,000/10,000/10,000, Riess shoved 180,000 in the cutoff with ace-jack, Tran re-shoved around 400,000 with ace-king and Elias woke up with kings in the big blind to put both at risk. No ace to be found meant a double-elimination and five players heading to the final.
"it helps that I’ve played with a lot of these players before."
The final five are guaranteed a payday of at least $89,290, with the winner walking away with $463,375. To snag his second title of the week, chip leader Elias will have to overcome some serious poker talent in Cimbolas, Matthew Waxman, Nick Schulman and David Benyamine, but he’s up to the challenge.
“With the Tournament of Champions, it helps that I’ve played with a lot of these players before,” said Elias. “So maybe I’m more familiar with their game or I can try to pick up on some things, where in the other tournaments, it’s more random people.”
|6||J.C. Tran||United States||$67,800|
|7||Ryan Riess||United States||$53,985|
|8||Sam Panzica||United States||$45,175|
|9||Nam Le||United States||$39,840|
|10||Justin Young||United States||$39,840|
Photos courtesy of WPT