The 2023 World Poker Tour Choctaw final table is set, and in most instances, this story would be about two former champions and a former WPT Player of the Year being in contention to return to the winner’s circle.
But Bin Weng‘s unbelievable two-week stretch has overshadowed it all.
Fresh off bagging a major chip lead heading into the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown one week ago, Weng repeated that feat in Choctaw and became the first player in WPT history to book back-to-back appearances for delayed final tables at HyperX Arena Las Vegas at Luxor. He’ll take the chip lead into a final table that also features Season 17 WPT Player of the Year and two-time WPT champion Erkut Yilmaz and previous WPT champion Jared Jaffee.
There was nearly a third WPT Champions Club member in the mix, as Alex Foxen ran pocket aces into Mike Vanier’s pocket tens, falling just short of the TV final table in 9th place.
The final six players will play everything out in Las Vegas on May 26, with $400,740 up top for whoever emerges as champion.
Seat 1: Bin Weng | 8,800,000 (big blinds, 1/6)
Home Country: China
Currently Resides: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $3,203,466
Biggest Lifetime Cash: 1st, 2023 $5,300 Borgata: The Return Main Event for $1 million
Other Prominent Scores: 1st, 2023 $1,700 WSOP Circuit Las Vegas Main Event for $227,344; 6th, 2021 WSOP $50,000 High Roller for $202,236
There’s not much about Bin Weng that we haven’t already said over the last two weeks. With two major titles under his belt in 2023 before he ever set foot in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. Then he bagged a massive chip lead in the WPT Main Tour stop after four days of poker. With just a couple of days to rest, Weng flew to Texas, drove to Oklahoma, played three more days, and repeated the feat. He rarely dipped out of the top 10 chip counts from the end of Day 1 on at Choctaw.
Weng will play for one title on May 25, and then his second on May 26. Should he win both, he’ll instantly become the favorite for WPT Player of the Year honors for 2023.
End of Day 1 chips: 435,000 (6/187)
End of Day 2 chips: 2,000,000 (3/28)
Seat 2: Dojie Ignacio | 4,225,000 (42 big blinds, 4/6)
Home Country: Philippines
Currently Resides: Bedford, Texas
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $18,091
Biggest Lifetime Cash: 6th, 2014 Card Player Poker Tour $450 No Limit Hold’em for $6,296
Dojie Ignacio is one of two players who has already multiplied his career earnings by locking up a final table appearance at WPT Choctaw. The Philippines-born, Texas-based Ignacio has locked up $81,700 for his efforts in this tournament, more than 12 times his previous best result. At 53 years old he’ll be the oldest player at the table, but the overall age range among the final six is just 14 years.
Ignacio eliminated Spencer Champlin in seventh place to end Day 3 and lock in the final table.
End of Day 1 chips: 260,000 (26/187)
End of Day 2 chips: 1,275,000 (9/28)
Seat 3: Rusty Farrin | 1,900,000 (19 big blinds, 6/6)
Hometown: Pocahontas, Arkansas
Currently Resides: El Dorado, Arkansas
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $19,827
Biggest Lifetime Cash: 2nd, 2019 RUNGOOD Poker Series $180 No Limit Hold’em for $4,601
Rusty Farrin nearly went out on the TV final table bubble, as his trailed Weng’s . The flop offered little assistance, but the turn saved his tournament.
By making this final table, the 39-year-old Farrin has already won more than four times his previously recorded lifetime live tournament earnings, according to The Hendon Mob. This is the first-ever WPT cash for the father of three, who is a lifelong Arkansas resident.
End of Day 1 chips: 391,000 (9/187)
End of Day 2 chips: 850,000 (16/28)
Seat 4: Mike Vanier | 5.3 million (53 big blinds, 3/6)
Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $1,216,627
Biggest Lifetime Cash: 2nd, 2022 WPT $5,200 Venetian Main Event for $595,000
Other Prominent Scores: 5th, 2019 WSOP $3,200 Online High Roller for $85,449; 98th, 2015 WSOP Main Event for $55,649
Mike Vanier may well be the dark horse heading into this final table. He’ll start six-handed play well within striking distance, and he’ll be eager to best his previous best on the WPT, a runner-up finish at Venetian one year ago.
Vanier is a former pro golfer and a University of Nebraska graduate who has called Lincoln, Nebraska home since birth. He also has a pair of Goldendoodle dogs, named Wynn and Cosmo.
End of Day 1 chips: 252,000 (31/187)
End of Day 2 chips: 740,000 (19/28)
Seat 5: Erkut Yilmaz | 3,150,000 (32 big blinds, 5/6)
Home Country: Turkey
Currently Resides: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $2,180,981
Biggest Lifetime Cash: 1st, 2018 WPT Borgata Poker Open for $575,112
Other Prominent Scores: 1st, 2019 WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event for $303,920
Only seven players have won three (or more) WPT titles, and Erkut Yilmaz hopes to join that exclusive club later this month. Yilmaz won the WPT Borgata Poker Open in September 2018, and then locked up POY honors by winning WPT Rolling Thunder in March 2019.
After making Day 2 on a single entry, Yilmaz lingered in the middle or bottom of the chip counts for large stretches of the tournament until he made a run on Day 3.
End of Day 1 chips: 205,000 (48/187)
End of Day 2 chips: 595,000 (22/28)
Seat 6: Jared Jaffee | 7,225,000 (72 big blinds, 2/6)
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
Currently Resides: Las Vegas, Nevada
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $5,988,479
Biggest Lifetime Cash: 1st, 2014 WSOP $1,500 Mixed Max No Limit Hold’em for $405,428
Other Prominent Scores: 1st, 2013 WPT Jacksonville bestbet Fall Poker Scramble for $252,749
Jared Jaffee is nearly 10 year on from his first career WPT title, which he won at bestbet Jacksonville in 2013. The Staten Island-born pro, who also owns a World Series of Poker bracelet, cleared $6 million in lifetime earnings by locking up a final table spot here at Choctaw.
He’ll start six-handed play in second place, although he will be directly to Weng’s right. Jaffee and Weng mixed it up in a big pot during seven-handed play, with Jaffee three-bet shoving the turn of a board. When Weng folded, Jaffee positioned himself well for a shot at a second WPT title.
End of Day 1 chips: 114,000 (121/187)
End of Day 2 chips: 935,000 (13/28)