There's No Birthday Present Like a WPT Title; Daniel Weinman Wins the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open on His 29th Birthday to Earn $892,433

Feb 3, 2017

Champion Daniel Weinman

By Ryan Lucchesi
Photography by Joe Giron /

It’s not every day that you turn 29 years old, but it’s also not every day that you win your first World Poker Tour title. Daniel Weinman accomplished both at the final table of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open on Friday night at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. “I turned 29 today, so this is a pretty awesome birthday present. My girlfriend flew in last minute, you couldn’t have scripted it any better,” said Weinman about his big day.

He topped a massive field of 1,312 players — the most ever for this event — but his toughest battles came near the end of the tournament. He made the call of the tournament when he called an all-in shove from Tyler Kenney on the river of a board reading Diamond 8Spade 5Club 4Heart 10Spade 3 with Club 9Diamond 5, and his lowly pair of fives was enough to top the Kenney’s Heart KHeart 9 (king high). Weinman was never in any danger after that as he cruised to victory.

When it was all over, Weinman said, “I don’t play a ton of tournaments outside of the World Series, so to come here and win against a field this big and a prestigious tournament like this is great.” You can read more of his comments in an extended interview below, including his thoughts on the call against Kenney, and how he came up with the idea to create the fantasyland variation of open-face Chinese poker. Weinman now holds $2,218,710 in career tournament earnings.

Here is a look at the chip counts at the start of play this afternoon in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Seat 1.  Jia Liu  –  6,815,000  (85 bb)
Seat 2.  Tyler Kenney  –  6,030,000  (75 bb)
Seat 3.  Nathan Bjerno  –  12,415,000  (155 bb)
Seat 4.  Nicholas Immekus  –  3,550,000  (44 bb)
Seat 5.  Richard Foster  –  5,130,000  (64 bb)
Seat 6.  Daniel Weinman  –  5,410,000  (68 bb)

The players came into the final table with very deep stacks in relation to the blinds (82 bb average stack), so it came as a surpirse that action started fast. It took just ten hands for the first elimination to transpire. Nicholas Immekus was all in preflop with A-K, and he ran into the pocket queens held by Tyler Kenney. Kenney found a third queen on the board, and Immekus was eliminated in sixth place, good for $184,787.

Play progressed another 16 hands before Richard Foster was all in right before the first break in play. Foster held pocket kings when he shoved on a J-J-5 flop,  but Daniel Weinman was waiting in the wings with pocket aces for the cooler. A third ace hit on the river to seal the deal, and Foster was out in fifth place, good for $228,884.

The final four players returned from the break and just six hands later Jia Liu was the player at risk. He moved all in on a board reading J-10-9-3 with Q-9 in the hole, and Kenney called with pocket queens. The river brought no rescue for Liu, and he was eliminated in fourth place, good for $275,081.

There was an extended period of three-handed play before the most pivotal hand of the tournament took place on the 65th hand of play. A series of bets and raises took place between Kenney and Weinman on a board dealt Diamond 8Club 5Club 4Heart 10Spade 3, when Kenney moved all in for 10.61 million on the river after Weinman checked. Weinman decided to call and Kenney showed Heart KHeart 9. Weinman picked off the bluff with Club 9Diamond 5 in the hole, and Kenney was eliminated in third place, good for $327,578.

That gave Weinman a massive chip lead going into the heads-up final with 33.8 million. Nathan Bjerno held 5.55 million, and that put him at a 6-1 chip disadvantage. Bjerno doubled up three times during the course of heads-up play, but he was never able to even up the chip counts.

The final hand came on the 116th hand of play. Action started when Weinman moved all in preflop, and Bjerno called all in for 3,450,000 with Club AHeart 4. Weinman turned over Diamond ASpade 5, and Bjerno needed to improve to hope for a chop to stay alive.

The board came Spade ADiamond 8Club 6Heart 7Diamond 4 — Bjerno paired his four on the river, but the same card gave Weinman an eight-high straight to win the pot — and the WPT title. Bjerno finished as the runner-up, earning $524,964.

Weinman won the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, earning $892,433. Weinman also won a WPT Champions Trophy, and his name will be inscribed on the one-and-only WPT Champions Cup, along with all previous WPT champions from the past 15 seasons of the World Poker Tour. Weinman’s prize money includes his $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.

Congratulations to Daniel Weinman!


1st: Daniel Weinman – $892,433*
2nd: Nathan Bjerno – $524,964
3rd: Tyler Kenney – $327,578
4th: Jia Liu – $275,081
5th: Richard Foster – $228,884
6th: Nicholas Immekus – $184,787

* First-prize amount includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.



What does it mean for you to win this WPT title?
“It’s huge, I don’t play a ton of tournaments outside of the World Series, so to come here and win a field this big and a prestigious tournament as this is great.”

What does it mean to win this title on your birthday?
“I turned 29 today, so this is a pretty awesome birthday present. My girlfriend flew in last minute, you couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

What was your thought process when you called Tyler Kenney’s river shove with a pair of fives?
“It was actually a really tough spot. I had kind of had it for every single three-bet previously, and I know the guys had been seeing it on the live stream, so I finally went for it with a pretty bad hand with the 9-5. [Kenney] called, the flop and the turn were kind of standard. Then we get to the river and he goes all in for about the pot. It’s a super tough spot between calling and folding, and I remembered reading something yesterday where he said at his other WPT Final Table he had been a little timid to make any moves, so I kind of had this feeling that the first time he really kind of turned up the heat, he might be light. It was close, he didn’t have a ton of hands he could do that with for value. I would either look really stupid, or I’d look like a hero forever.”

You’re credited with inventing the Fantasyland variation of open-face Chinese poker. How did you come up with it, and how does it feel to see so many top pros playing it?
“Open face has been around for a long time. It was popular in Russia and Europe, and when it first got popular in America, before there was Fantasyland, just a couple of pros were really good at it, and it’s such a math-based game that it never really had the chance of getting an amateur in there to gamble. It’s kind of like how people are shying away from no-limit now and playing PLO because there is more gambling. They like the addition of Fantasyland because it adds all of this variance. It stinks for the pros that were great at it, but it got so many people into the game. I lost a big number playing the original game, and I had read something about something that was kind of like Fantasyland, but it seemed kind of far out. So we kind of just tinkered around with it until it made sense, and the game was born.”


With the 2017 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open now in the history books, the World Poker Tour heads north to Montreal, Canada for the WPT Playground main event, a CAD $3,500 buy-in event which runs February 10-15 with a guaranteed prizepool of CAD $1 million. Return to for live coverage of this and all main tour WPT events.

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