Matthew Wantman Wins First WPT Title in $10K Aria Summer Championship ($443,475)
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The final event of Season XVII of the World Poker Tour wrapped up on Friday with Boston native Matt Wantman lifting the trophy in the $10,000 WPT ARIA Summer Championship for his first WPT title and his biggest live career cash of $443,475.
On his way to victory, Wantman eliminated five of his final six opponents which included some top poker talent in Ryan Laplante, Jim Collopy, Igor Kurganov, and two two-time WPT champs in Kevin Eyster and last year's WPT POY Art Papazyan. The tournament attracted 192 entries, bringing the total prize pool to $1,824,000 with the top 24 getting paid.
After eliminating Noah Schwartz in seventh place on Day 4 when he picked up pocket aces to take down ace-jack, Wantman went into the final table of six with a healthy chip lead and very deep-stacked with 202 big blinds, according to the WPT live updates. Before his win, the East Coast poker pro had over 100 live cashes including three six-figure scores and one previous WPT final table, but was yet to claim a major championship title. Now he can check that box.
WPT ARIA Summer Championship Official Final Table Results
*Includes entry into the $15,000 Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions event starting June 1.
The $10k field was packed with big names in the game and among those who made it into the money but fell short of the final table were Dominik Nitsche, Jeremy Ausmus, Chance Kornuth, Seth Davies, Tom Marchese, Jason Koon, Justin Bonomo, Kitty Kuo and Steve Zolotow.
WPT ARIA Summer Championship Final Table
WSOP bracelet winner Ryan Laplante was Wantman's first victim at the final table. As the shortest stack coming in, Laplante got it in early in the day with ace-king and couldn't catch up to Wantman's pocket jacks. He then kept his tear going, taking out Collopy and Eyster in succession, holding pocket queens in both cases.
Three-handed play was deep and it lasted for quite some time with the shortest of the three, Kurganov sticking around and doubling through Wantman with queens against jacks. The stacks eventually evened out, all players within about 25 big blinds, and Papazyan took over the chip lead for a short period until Wantman clawed his way back on top.
Papazyan would be the next one out, an elimination claimed by someone other than Wantman for a change of pace. Papazyan four-bet shoved queen-jack and Kurganov had the dominant ace-queen and held up to narrow it down to two contenders.
Wantman led at the start of heads-up but not by much. The two did battle and Wantman grinded Kurganov down to under 20 big blinds before snapping off Kurganov's ace-six shove with ace-jack.
The runner-up finish adds $285,650 to Kurganov's $17.3 million in live earnings, but the Russian high roller will have to shelve his hopes to add a WPT title to his impressive resume for the time being.
As for Wantman, he'll be taking a shot for another WPT title this weekend in the $15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions that kicks off Saturday.
Photos courtesy of WPT.