It’s a rare occurrence on the World Poker Tour® when the chip leader at the start of the final table comes in and holds the lead for a wire-to-wire victory, but that’s what happened Saturday night in the Season XV WPT® Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event. James Romero came in with a 2-1 advantage over his next closest competitor, and he never let anyone get within a few million of him during a dominant win to claim his first WPT title.
The Portland, OR resident was active early and often at the final table, opening the betting action more than any other player on the final day of this six-day $10,400 buy-in tournament. Romero claimed the top prize in the prestigious event thanks to his impressive performance, and the reward was a handsome one at $1.938 million. The event attracted 791 entries, shattering the record for largest WPT Five Diamond Main Event in tour history and tying the all-time record for a $10,000 event in WPT history.
Season XV WPT Five Diamond Final Table Results
1st: James Romero – $1,938,118
2nd: Ryan Tosoc – $1,124,051
3rd: Jake Schindler – $736,579
4th: Alex Condon – $494,889
5th: Justin Bonomo – $345,272
6th: Igor Yaroshevskyy – $268,545
Action started slow at the final table, with the first all-in confrontation not taking place until the 42nd hand of play. That was when Jake Schindler scored the first double up at the final table against Romero. Then a flurry of eliminations kicked off on Hand #59, when Igor Yaroshevskyy busted in sixth place ($268,545) when his ace-ten fell against the pocket queens of Romero.
Just two hands later, Justin Bonomo was all in with pocket fives, but he was behind the pocket sevens of Schindler. No help came on the board and Bonomo was eliminated in fifth place ($345,272). Just three hands later, Alex Condon was all in with the , and Romero had him covered with pocket fives. No help arrived on the board once again, and Condon busted in fourth place ($494,889).
After that rush of activity, the final three players settled back in for a long battle. Romero used this stretch to his advantage, increasing his chip lead to an almost unassailable position. Tosoc slowed down Romero when he scored a double up through him on Hand #102, but Schindler was not so lucky when he moved all in against Romero on Hand #120. Schindler was all in with pocket sixes, but Romero held king-jack in the hole and found another king on the flop. The turn and river changed nothing, and Schindler was out in third place ($736,579).
Romero collected the last of Schindler’s chips to give himself a dominant stack at the start of heads-up play with 20.95 million. Tosoc faced a 7.5-1 chip disadvantage holding a stack worth 2.775 million, and the final match took just 16 hands, with the chip deficit proving too much for a comeback from Tosoc.
On the final hand, Tosoc moved all in for 1.975 million, and Romero snap-called with the . Tosoc turned over the , and he needed to improve to stay alive. The board was dealt , and Romero won the pot — and the WPT title — with pocket kings. Tosoc finished as the runner-up, earning $1.124 million.
With that, Romero won the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event, earning $1.938 million, which includes his $15,000 entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Romero also received a WPT Champions Trophy, a Hublot King Power Unico Carbon and Red watch, and a pair of Rose Gold Wireless Over-Ear Element Headphones from Monster. Romero’s name will be inscribed on the one-and-only WPT Champions Cup, alongside every other WPT champion from all 15 seasons.
The next stop takes the World Poker Tour to Atlantic City, NJ from Jan. 29-Feb. 3 for the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event, which features a $3,500 buy-in and a $3 million guaranteed prize pool.