By Sean Chaffin
Reaching the pinnacle of poker is one thing, doing it twice is another. Taylor Black already had one major score on his poker resumé. But he wanted more, a second big title to show that the first win wasn’t just a one-off. Black felt he needed another bullet point to stand out on his poker record. He achieved just that this week. As the final day of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic drifted into Monday’s early morning hours, Black seized the win in one of the tour’s biggest events.
Black now becomes the latest WPT champion after winning more than $1.2 million. In 2018, he scored another $1 million payday in the partypoker MILLIONS Main Event at Playground Poker Club in Montreal. The WPT win adds even more massive results, which includes $3.9 million in overall live tournament winnings.
“Getting another major score always validates the first one,” he said after the win. “The first one can always be chalked up to luck. It feels good. And this is a much more prestigious tournament.
“It’s an honor, I’m very happy to be here. There are a lot of great players, a lot of friends, and I’ve played many, many WPTs.”
Black now adds his name to the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup alongside not just a roster of great players, but also his own friends like James Romero and Kevin Eyster.
“It’s cool to be on the list of Five Diamond winners with guys like them who are my friends and incredible players … it’s just a special tournament,” he says. “You don’t control which tournament you get to run well enough to win so for it to be in this one for all the tournaments I play, it’s surreal.”
After finishing Day 4 as chip leader, Black faced some ups and downs at the final table. Getting to the title wasn’t easy, despite entering the final table with a mountain of chips. His chip stack wavered at times and he found himself lowest in chips at one point with four players left. Black believes he plays best, however, when his back is against the wall and was able to mount a rally quickly.
“I just brought myself back to the moment of being grateful to be here and was able to keep thinking clearly and made some big decisions when the pressure was on,” he says. “I made a couple big folds and am grateful I was able to keep my head on straight.”
Early on in his career, Black dreamed of winning a WPT event and would head to Bay 101 with friends from Santa Cruz, California, playing in $120 daily tournaments. They also hoped to win a satellite for an entry into the Bay 101 Shooting Star. He always dreamed of playing the highest stakes possible and went through years playing at lower levels before reaching the pinnacle of poker success..
“To come from that and build my way through low- and mid-stakes to up to where I am now … it feels really good,” he says.
After an extended final table, heads-up play with Vik Shegal was fairly short-lived. Black had a 2-to-1 chip advantage and was able to extend that as the two battled and he continued applying pressure. For his part, Shegal took home $827,620 for runner-up.
“Vik played extremely well,” said Black, who’s been playing poker for 17 years. “I was super impressed with him. Honestly, coming into today I didn’t know anything about him. I found that he was a better player than I had envisioned before I sat down. Then I realized he was definitely a quality player. He was the person I didn’t want to play heads-up with, but everyone at the table was solid.”
Overall, the Five Diamond produced an unmatched poker moment for Black, one that will stick with him for life.
“It’s going to be hard to top this,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to top this, period, in my life. So I’m just soaking it in.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer based in New Mexico and Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.