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Ben Zamani Wins 2017 WinStar River Poker Series Main Event ($347,134)

mnuwwarah • Level 32: 100,000-200,000, 30,000 ante
Ben Zamani wins River Poker Series Main Event

He came into the day short on chips, but long on poker skills and success. In the end, Ben Zamani wouldn't be denied as he conquered his final 11 opponents on Day 3 of WinStar River Poker Series $2,500 Main Event to take down a first-place prize of $347,134.

That adjusted prize came after Zamani made a deal heads up with Chengce Jiang, who came into the day as massive chip leader. Jiang earned $297,760 for his runner-up finish. It's the fourth-biggest live cash for Zamani, a two-time bracelet winner and the reigning WPT Player of the Year. He now has over $4.4 million in total live earnings.

"In a poker tournament, you're just never out of it," he said of his attitude heading into the final day of play. "I kept believing and didn't think about anything else."

While Zamani began the day with less than 10 big blinds but managed to chip up from 535,000 to a solid 2.6 million by the time the final table got under way. He also saw one of his most dangerous rivals, fellow bracelet winner Anthony Spinella, go down in 12th when he ran top pair and the nut flush draw into the two pair of Jiang.

The story heading into the day was Maxx Coleman's attempt at a second WinStar title in three years. The Kansas native has been on a wildly successful run here, taking the lion's share of a three-way chop in 2015 for $750,000 and then finishing in 32nd last year.

Coleman crushed on the first two days of the tournament, bagging a monster Day 1a lead that easily held up through the subsequent flights and then coming into the final day second only to Jiang. However, Coleman lost a flip right away and appeared to go card dead after that, failing to regain even his start-of-day count.

Maxx Coleman
Maxx Coleman

In what proved to be both his final hand and the one that would propel Zamani to victory, Coleman shoved his last 850,000 in at 50,000/100,000/10,000 and Zamani called in the small blind. Big blind Lang Nguyen woke up with kings and jammed, and Zamani called for about 4.5 million with queens. Coleman showed down ace-three of diamonds.

Fortunately for Zamani, a queen hit, and he suddenly found himself within striking distance of the lead with a dangerous player heading for the payout desk.

It appeared Zamani and Jiang were destined for a heads-up confrontation, and though there were a few bumps along the way, that's exactly what happened.

Zamani briefly wrested the lead from Jiang when they were three-handed with Johanssy Joseph, when Jiang called a huge river bet after Zamani hit a wheel on the end. However, it was Jiang who reclaimed the lead when he eliminated Joseph with ace-queen against king-nine all in preflop.

Slightly down in chips, Zamani offered an even split but said he'd also be willing to chop based on stacks and play for a chunk of the remaining pool.

Confident in his game and his small lead, Jiang went with the latter, and the two locked up $297,760 and $287,134 with $60,000 left to battle over.

Zamani dominated early on, sweeping up seemingly every small and medium pot the two played to move into the lead. He then made another huge hand when a combo draw hit for a flush on the river and Jiang again couldn't find the fold button when Zamani bet big.

"I was definitely being more aggressive," Zamani said of the match. "Some things went my way because of my aggression but I also think I made a few mistakes because of that."

Jiang battled back when he picked off an all-in semi-bluff for stacks while holding a straight — perhaps one of the mistakes to which Zamani alluded — and then grabbed the lead by making two pair in a huge pot. However, both players would make trip eights in a pot that all but decided it, with Zamani's ten kicker besting Jiang's four.

Jiang tried his own semi-bluff with bottom pair and a straight draw for the rest of his chips but got picked off when Zamani checked and successfully induced with top pair and a gutshot.

It may not be WSOP gold, but Zamani added yet another bracelet to his collection courtesy of WinStar, and he said he won't be resting on his laurels. He's planning to go trophy hunting once again, as he said he'll be hopping on a plane to the Northeast with the aim of winning the big event coming up at Borgata.

Final Table Results

PlacePlayerPrize
1Ben Zamani$347,134
2Chengce Jiang$297,760
3Johanssy Joseph$188,904
4Dwight Sellars$142,011
5Lang Nguyen$107,968
6Chris Hooper$83,073
7Maxx Coleman$64,650
8Gnana Duddukuru$50,893
9Lawrence Porath$40,537
10Mike Dentale$32,669

Tags: Ben Zamani