Ankush Mandavia, Anselmo Villarreal Chop CPPT Venetian

Ankush Mandavia hit a big live score for the first time in over a year.

In a sign of the times, Ankush Mandavia wore a Georgia Bulldogs mask rather than his old reliable UGA hoodie, but some things stayed the same as he still found his way to the winner's photo in a Las Vegas tournament.

This time, it didn't quite come from an outright victory as Mandavia made a heads-up deal with Anselmo Villarreal at Card Player Poker Tour Venetian $2,500 Main Event. Each player earned a handsome payday — Villarreal pulled in $253,441 while Mandavia did slightly better with $260,000.

Official Final Table Results

1Ankush Mandavia$260,000*
2Anselmo Villarreal$253,441*
3Timothy Capretta$132,030
4Kristen Bicknell$90,954
5Derek Gregory$60,147
6Alex Foxen$45,477
7Yosif Nawabi$35,208
8Qing Liu$24,939

The tournament pulled in 652 entries for a prize pool of $1,467,000, according to CardPlayer's own reporting. That made it one of the bigger poker events held since the onset of COVID-19 all but shut down live poker last spring.

Notables at the Final Table

Some notable names advanced to the final table, namely Alex Foxen and Kristen Bicknell. The dominating pair wasn't sharing Venetian final table real estate for the first time. While they ended things in victorious but also controversial fashion before, things were less lucrative here as Foxen busted in sixth for $45,477 while Bicknell took fourth for $90,954.

Also making the final table was Qing Liu, who has been one of the most prolific players in the Venetian tournaments since they made their return in 2020. Liu has racked up 16 previous cashes since last September, including six other final tables and an outright win worth $83K, according to The Hendon Mob. However, he settled for eighth place this time around for $24,939.

Villarreal and Mandavia Outlast the Rest

According to Card Player's reporting, Bicknell had a promising chip lead four-handed but ultimately wound up with a fourth-place finish when she doubled up Mandavia and then couldn't win a flip against Villarreal for her remaining chips.

Timothy Capretta, who opened the final table with the chip lead, then bluffed off his stack into Villarreal's pair plus flush draw, failing to hit any of his four live outs to the river with {k-Diamonds}{10-Clubs} on {a-Hearts}{a-Diamonds}{9-Hearts}{3-Spades} against {q-Hearts}{9-Hearts}.

That left Mandavia and Villarreal, with the former at a slight deficit.

Anselmo Villarreal
Villarreal, pictured at a different event.

While Villarreal can't match Mandavia's millions in cashes, he does have $400K in his own right. However, the best of those was still $22,700, and he respected Mandavia enough to let him negotiate the higher payout while still locking up a lifetime-best score of his own. They flipped for the trophy with Mandavia the lucky winner.

Mandavia, for his part, has been very active in reported WSOP events on both GGPoker and with several cashes on each in 2020, but he told Card Player he was grinding live for the first time in a year.

“When I went to register and got a player’s card they told me it had been exactly one year since I last played here," he said. "That’s kinda crazy, but it feels good.”

Lead photo courtesy of Cardplayer

  • A heads-up deal ended the latest huge live poker event at Venetian.

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