WPT Champions Club member Yevgeniy Timoshenko and reigning WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen highlighted the partypoker WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open final table on Friday, but it was local pro Chris Leong who outlasted them all, earning $816,246 and a seat in the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.
Leong started out with a deficit against Rafael Yaraliyev in the heads-up battle at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, but the New Yorker quickly battled back to take the lead. The two players then traded punches as a raucous rail cheered them on with enthusiasm. Leong lasted longer in the end, and wasn’t afraid to let his emotions show while his friends and fellow professionals celebrated with him at center stage.
Final Table Results
1: Chris Leong – $816,246
2: Rafael Yaraliyev – $487,288
3: Liam He – $297,995
4: Joe McKeehen – $249,267
5: Yevgeniy Timoshenko – $206,160
6: Matthew Wantman – $166,803
There were more than four orbits of play to start the final table before the first all-in confrontation. Matthew Wantman was all in with pocket queens against the A-K of chip leader Rafael Yaraliyev, and the board brought an ace to send Wantman home in sixth place ($166,803). Chris Leong and Yevgeniy Timoshenko then both took a turn doubling up.
The next elimination was claimed when Timoshenko moved all in with pocket fours, but he was behind the pocket queens held by Leong. The board changed nothing and Timoshenko was our fifth-place finisher ($206,160). The elimination of Timoshenko ensured we would have a new WPT champion here at Borgata, but it was not going to be reigning WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen. He was all in with K-Q against the suited A-10 of Yaraliyev, and the board was dealt A-K-J-9-7 to send McKeehen home in fourth place ($249,267).
Just one hand later, Liam He was all in with pocket sevens and he was in a good spot to double up against the pocket fives of Leong. That was until the board fell 9-5-3-2-K and Liam was eliminated in third place, good for $297,995. In less than 100 hands, the heads-up battle was set.
When cards were in the air on the 93rd hand of play Yaraliyev held the lead with 21,725,000 over the 14,275,000 held by Leong. On just the second hand of play between them, Leong stole the chip lead by winning the largest pot of the tournament – a 20.4 million-chip monster.
Leong raised to 450,000 to open the action preflop, and Yaraliyev reraised to 1.2 million. Leong tanked before making it 3.7 million to play. Yaraliyev then tanked before calling. The flop was dealt and Yaraliyev bet 3.7 million. Leong called and the turn fell . Both players check and the river delivered the . Yaraliyev bet 2.8 million and Leong tanked before calling. Yaraliyev said nice call as Leong turned over . Yaraliyev mucked and he was down to 11,975,000 after the hand, while Leong was up to 24,025,000.
The heads-up match was just getting started at that point. It turned out to be longer than the entire playdown period that preceded it at the final table, lasting for more than 100 hands. Yaraliyev would double up two times to fight back to the lead before Leong doubled up to charge to the front again.
On the final hand, Leong moved all in and Yaraliyev called all in for 10,100,000 with . Leong turned over , and Yaraliyev needed his hand to hold to stay alive. The board came , and Leong won the pot — and the WPT title — with a pair of aces. Yaraliyev finished as the runner-up, earning $487,288.
Leong won the partypoker WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, earning $816,246, which includes his entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Leong also received a WPT Champions Trophy, a Borgata trophy, and his name will be enscribed on the one-and-only WPT Champions Cup.
That concludes our coverage from the partypoker WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. Thanks to the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa for hosting another great event. The next stop on the tour takes us to Canada for the partypoker WPT Fallsview Poker Classic in Niagara Falls. The WPT live reporting team will be there to bring you the action just over two weeks from now.