By Sean Chaffin
The final table in the WPT Gardens Poker Championship with the remaining six players battling it out in Las Vegas on March 12 at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel and Casino. The action in Sin City will be taped for broadcast on FOX Sports Regional Networks and will be the first WPT final table played at the arena.
The final six players will be battling it out for $548,825 in first-place cash, the Gardens championship belt, and the chance to add their names to the WPT Champions Cup. The champion also locks up a $15,000 seat in the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions along with 1,200 points toward the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. Here’s a look at the final players heading to Vegas and hoping for the title.
Seat 1: Shannon Shorr – 1,710,000
With 17 WPT cashes, $1.1 million in tour winnings, and three WPT final table appearances, Shorr is looking to break through and add his name to the Champions Cup. On the tournament scene since 2006, he’s amassed $6.7 million live tournament winnings. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, and now living in Las Vegas, Shorr’s first major score came in 2006 when he took fourth in the A$10,500 Crown Australian Poker Championships for $199,126. Two big scores followed that year, where he won a $1,080 event for $126,585 and a $10,300 event for $960,690, both at Bellagio Cup II.
He came close to a WSOP bracelet in 2008 after finishing runner-up in a $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $349,142. He added a win in a $3,200 event at Bellagio Cup IV in $247,555.
Shorr’s list of accomplishments runs as deep as almost anyone in poker and included a deep run last summer in the WSOP Main Event – 39th for $189,165. In WPT events, his best finish came in Season XII with a runner-up finish in the Lucky Hearts Poker Open for $190,039. His other final table appearances came in Season VII in the WPT World Championship (fifth for $408,550) and in Season IX in the Southern Poker Championship (fourth for $144,985).
The 33-year-old has been playing poker for 13 years and now lives in Las Vegas. He’s engaged to be married, and enjoys the outdoors, fitness, and traveling. He learned to play poker in $5 games while in college, where he earned a degree in business management at the University of Alabama. Will he add a WPT title to his resumé? He’s not a player to take lightly and will be looking to cash in on a deep run.
Seat 2: Frank Stepuchin – 4,065,000
Stepuchin entered Day 4 as chip leader and continued to accumulate throughout the day. The 59-year-old player and former realtor from Park City, Utah, brings a nice stack into the final table and is looking for the biggest cash of his career. This marks his second trip to the Gardens after playing in the inaugural WPT event here in 2018. After busting out of that event, Stepuchin headed to the Hustler Casino with friend and WPT regular Sorrel Mizzi to play in a $375 event before heading to Las Vegas.
The trip was definitely worth it and Stepuchin won, taking home $149,220. He now has more than $354,000 in live tournament winnings. A player who likes to joke and have some fun at the tables, Stepuchin is now hoping to hoist the Gardens championship belt and win a WPT title.
Stepuchin grew up in Cheshire, Connecticut, and served in the Navy. He’s also worked as a ski instructor and stockbroker. When not playing poker, he enjoys skiing, surfing, and fishing. Additionally, Stepuchin graduated from the University of Massachusetts. Can he get it done in Las Vegas and take home the title? He may have less experience than others at this final table, but he’s not afraid to mix it up, has a big pile of chips, and could be a tough opponent to tangle with.
Seat 3: Brent Roberts – 1,385,000
This rounder from Staten Island, New York, brings plenty of WPT experience to this final table with $632,678 in tour winnings. That includes a WPTDeepStacks title at the Parx Casino in Pennsylvania in 2016 for $202,944. On the Main Tour, Roberts also made some waves including a final table appearance in Season XIV in the WPT Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino, finishing third for $251,035.
On the tournament scene since 2005, the 33-year-old has just over $2 million in live tournament winnings. A few highlights include winning a $1,060 Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza in 2007 for $111,282, and a $5,500 WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City in 2008 for $290,040.
A graduate of Binghamton University, Roberts has been playing poker professionally for 15 years and now lives in Las Vegas. Summer camp proved to be poker camp for Roberts when he was younger, and he learned to play from camp counselors. He’s a fan of playing tennis and racketball when not playing poker, and also loves to travel. Roberts is a talented player with plenty of big finishes throughout his career. He’ll be looking to make use of some of that talent at this tough final table.
Seat 4: Jonathan Abdellatif – 555,000
This marks the first WPT final table appearance for this player from Aalst, Belgium. Abdellatif has four previous tour cashes for $61,291, but this certainly becomes the biggest. If he can keep the big run going here at the Gardens, the 34-year-old has an opportunity not only for a nice six-figure score but a WPT title.
With $1.7 million in live tournament winnings, Abdellatif has a wealth of experience and cashes in European events. His first nice win came in 2009 in a €1,000 event at Casinos Austria for $70,147. More wins and cashes in smaller buy-in events followed and then in 2017 he notched the biggest win of his career, taking down a £2,700 partypoker MILLIONS event in Nottingham, U.K., for $ 275,655. Last summer, Abdellatif came close to winning a World Series of Poker bracelet after finishing fourth in a $3,000 Nol Limit Hold’em event for $163,404.
Abdellatif now lives Sofia, Bulgaria, and plays poker full time. He previously worked in the insurance industry and has a master’s degree in business. When not playing cards, he enjoys working out, traveling, and has an interest in astronomy. He’ll be looking for a big start to 2019 with a major cash when play resumes in Las Vegas. On the short stack at the final table, Abdellatif says he’ll be working “to try and crawl out of the hole.”
Seat 5: Ray Qartomy – 820,000
A familiar face to WPT fans, Qartomy has $713,605 in WPT winnings including three final table appearances. This will be his second final table of Season XVII after finishing fourth at the WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble for $95,684. In May at ARIA, Qartomy finished eighth for $45,975 in the Bobby Baldwin Classic to close out Season XVI. His best WPT finishes both came in Season XIII at the WPT Borgata Poker Open (sixth for $174,637), and in 2015 at the WPT World Championship (fifth for $208,647). He’s now hoping to improve on those performances and snag that sought-after WPT title.
Beyond the WPT, Qartomy, from Sugar Land, Texas, has $3.2 million in live tournament winnings including a plethora of titles and six-figure scores. His biggest cash came in 2013, when he finished fourth in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open for $639,925. He scored a runner-up finish in that same series in August in a $10,000 side event for $206,297.
While he may be a regular at the card playing, Qartomy works as a businessman and owns his own granite company in Houston. He was born in Amman, Jordan, and has been playing poker for 12 years. If he can build on his chip stack, Qartomy has the experience and desire to bring home a title.
Seat 6: Steve Sung – 1,580,000
A regular on the tour for years, this player from Torrance, California, has $1.9 million WPT winnings including three final tables. This marks Sung’s fifth cash and first final table appearance this season. The first of his three final table appearances came in Season VI (2007) when he took fourth at the Spanish Championship in Barcelona for $166,438. That same season he finished runner-up at the Bay 101 Shooting Star for $585,000. In Season VII, Sung finished fourth at Bellagio in the Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $396,205.
Sung, 33, has found plenty of success away from the WPT as well with $5.5 million in live tournament winnings. That includes two WSOP bracelets, the first of which came in 2009 in a $1,000 event featuring a field of 6,012 and a $771,338 top prize. The second came in 2013, where he won the $ 25,000 Six-Handed event for $1.2 million. There were other near misses including one runner-up, two third-place finishes, and two more in fourth-place. As part of his stellar career, he’s accumulated three WPT eight-place finishes and two finishes in ninth.
Sung loves playing basketball and credits a coach with teaching him how to play poker. He’s now been playing professionally for 12 years. He’ll be looking to add to his trophy case if he can make some moves in HyperX Esports Arena and can continue to accumulate chips.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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