By Sean Chaffin
After five days of play, it all came down to a final all-in flip among the final three players remaining in the WPT Borgata Poker Open. Six figures were on the line as well as the prestige of adding a major title. It all came down to one hand, one turn of the cards. With Donald Maloney (pictured) ahead in chips, he and his opponents Uke Dauti and Kevin Albers moved in all their chips before looking at their cards.
The scenario took many in the tournament area by surprise as the three tabled their cards for such an unexpected ending. Maloney, Albers, and Dauti effectively flipped for the WPT title and Maloney came out on top. He becomes the latest player to add his name to the WPT Champions Cup after the fortuitous all-in flip.
“The last hand was pretty interesting,” he says. “The guys had decided that they were exhausted and really didn’t want to play anymore, so we decided to do a flip. It went runner-runner straight, so it was definitely meant for me to get the title and I’ll always remember it, I guarantee.”
After topping a field of 1,156 entries, Maloney takes home $616,186 and earns a $15,000 entry into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal Tournament of Champions. Dauti took home $410,787 as runner-up and Albers won $303,903 for third place.
How does it feel to be the newest WPT champion?
“With a WPT title not only do I feel more accomplished, but it’s literally set in stone that I was a champion at the highest level of poker,” he says. “I’ve definitely had some deep runs these last few years, but I was never a WPT champion. This is feeling really great right now. It hasn’t really set in yet, but I’m super stoked.”
This marks the third WPT cash for Maloney and the biggest cash of his poker career. The previous high mark came last September at the Borgata as well. He finished runner-up in the $600 Kickoff event in the BPO for $170,535 for back-to-back nice finishes in Atlantic City.
Away from poker, Maloney works an entrepreneur with several businesses and now plans to open a restaurant. He grew up in New York and now lives in L.A. Winning and competition is nothing new to the newest member of the Champions Club. His father, Donald Maloney Sr., and uncle, Dave Maloney, both played for the New York Rangers for more than a decade. The 31-year-old also had a considerable career in minor league hockey as a forward. That included time with teams in the ECL, CHL, and other leagues. He also had a stop with the Las Vegas Wrangler before the Golden Knights came to town.
Maloney says injuries plagued him a bit and his last season came in 2015-16 with the Peoria Rivermen in Illinois. However, a return to hockey in some capacity isn’t out of the question at some point.
“I feel like hockey and poker are my two greatest talents,” he says. “I still skate all the time and they are pretty much my two biggest hobbies. I’d like to get back into hockey at some point if I can. I’ve got to not be injured to start a year one time, that would be fun. Other than that, I’d like to get into management potentially just like my dad did.”
At the Borgata, it was quite a hat trick for this former hockey player: a WPT title, an entry into the WPT Tournament of Champions, and some good luck when he needed it most to close things out. Maloney divides his time between L.A., South Florida, and the New York area. He now has plans to play even more and is considering heading to England for the WPT UK, which begins September 30.
“Poker is great and I love playing tournaments,” he says. “I plan to be back – and hope to be back in the winner’s circle.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
Photography by Joe Giron / PokerPhotoArchive
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