Heng Zhang: "No Pressure" with Chip Lead Entering WPT bestbet Scramble Final Table
Three long days of play are complete in the $5,000 buy-in World Poker Tour (WPT) bestbet Scramble and the original 365-entry field has dwindled down to the final table of six.
Day 3 on Monday was intense as the pressure mounted given the pay-jumps at stake from start to finish. The money bubble burst on Sunday (Day 2), but it wasn't until midway through Monday's session when the money started to become serious. At the final table, it will really be serious when the remaining players, all guaranteed at least $70,400, will be chasing the $351,650 first place prize.
Plenty of Experience at the Final Table
The players at the final table might not be household names yet, although one of them is about to be, there are some accomplished pros with impressive The Hendon Mob resumes, starting with Ian O'Hara who has over $4 million in live tournament cashes. But he'll start the final table with 1,050,000, less than 20% of chip leader Heng Zhang's stack (5,780,000).
Zhang and Frederic Normand (5,000,000) have some separation between the other four players. Normand told PokerNews after Ethan Cahn busted in seventh place ($53,800) that he acknowledges he'll be facing some tough competition at the final table.
"Ian is very good, I think Toby is very good, I'm not too sure about the others, I think Heng is a very good player too," Normand said of what he knows about his opponents. "We'll see how things go tomorrow."
There is a large drop-off in the chip count rankings from Zhang, Normand, and Michael Frierson (3,460,000), with the bottom two — O'Hara (1,050,000) and Brian Senie (995,000) — around 20 big blinds.
"They can't be too overly aggressive," Normand, a Canadian with nearly $600,000 in live tournament cashes, said of what he anticipates from the small stacks early at the final table. "I think I'll just wait for their spots and try to take advantage of that."
Normand will have one advantage over Zhang and that is position at the table. But Zhang, who acknowledged Normand is a strong player, isn't concerned he'll be out of position against the other big stack.
"The shortest stack, he's a good player, he doesn't really have ICM pressures," Zhang said. "So, I feel he knows how to play the range properly. Pretty much everybody left knows how to play properly.
The pay-jumps will be huge and Zhang is now the favorite to win the title and join the WPT Champions Club, something none of the six players at the final table can currently claim. Does he feel any pressure given his situation?
"I feel no pressure," Zhang responded.
All six players appeared to be calm and relaxed on Monday as they exited bestbet Jacksonville at around 7 p.m. local time. We'll find out at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday when the WPT live-stream begins to see if they're as calm and relaxed when the cards are in the air for the final session.
Final Table Chip Counts
*Images courtesy of WPT/Drew Amato