6 Mins Read
When young Will Pengelly (cover image), a student of University of North Texas reached the final table of WinStar River Poker Series $2,500 Main Event, he was faced with the dilemma of having to choose between his classes for the day or returning to the final table action. Pengelly chose the latter and it turned out to be a fateful decision for the 20-year old, who topped the 807-strong field and claimed the title along with $249,310 in prize money following a five-way chop!
Pengelly has been a regular at cash games and has been playing at WinStar since he turned 18. The win is also his first cash ever in a live tournament. “This is why you play tournaments,” Pengelly said, when asked the question by a friend after his victory.
“I think of tournaments kind of like the lottery,” he continued. “Many people enter and one player wins a lot of money. Today, that happened to be me.”
Pengelly had a swingy ride to the final table and lost several crucial pots to edge dangerously close to elimination. He was reduced to one of the shortest stacks but got back into business after winning a big pot through Deas with his flopped top set against Deas’ pocket fives on a jack-high flop. The rest as they say is history.
“I really want to buy a nice car but it will most likely be going into the bank,”said the Finance major, talking about how he plans to spend his payout.
The tournament kicked off with two starting flights and guaranteed a $2 Million prize pool. Many poker stars entered the field that saw 378 entries in the opening flight. WinStar ambassador Maria Ho, DJ Alexander, Rainer Kempe, Mike Wang, David ‘The Dragon’ Pham and Anthony Spinella entered through Day 1A but ran dry. Wang and Spinella re-entered and managed to carry a stack for Day 2.
Johnny Deas topped the leaderboard among the 46 survivors of Day 1A with 543,000 chips while Day 1B saw another 429 entries added to the field, and of them, 52 players advanced to Day 2 with Joe Elpayaa carrying the biggest stack of 768,000.
Overall the total field swelled to 807 and Elpayaa held the maximum chips amid the 98 players who returned to the felts on Day 2, all of them in the money.
Notables to take home a payout included seven-time WSOP bracelet winner Men Nguyen (14th for $24,040), Mark Fisher (16th for $19,280), Elpayaa (18th for $19,820), Wei Zhang (21st for $16,520), Alex Greenblatt (41st for $6,980), Spinella (48th for $6,280), Wang (79th for $4,840), Allen Kessler (89th for $4,460) and Ben Keeline (96th for $4,100).
Fast paced play saw the field whittle down rapidly to the final table towards conclusion of play on Day 2.
Larry Hirons’ (10th for $29,500) elimination was the last one for the day before the remaining nine players bagged their chips. Leading the finalists was Deas (4,725,000), followed by Ricky Green (3,880,000) while Pengelly (2,555,000) was third in chips.
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Johnny Deas – 4,725,000
2. Ricky Green – 3,880,000
3. Will Pengelly – 2,555,000
4. Jeff Banghart – 2,545,000
5. Ekrem Bozkurt – 2,435,000
6. Matthew Bray – 1,945,000
7. Dean Baranowski – 1,100,000
8. Alan Cummins – 845,000
9. Brian Green – 590,000
Final Table Recap
Minutes into the final table play, Brian Green faced risk when Jeff Banghart opened for 125,000 from early position and Green moved all in from his left for 550,000. Banghart got a rough count and made the call. He tabled against Green’s . Banghart flopped a flush draw on the flop and locked it up on the turn, while the river brought no relief for Green who made his way out in ninth place.
Despite entering the final table as the chip leader, Johnny Deas suffered big setbacks and soon after Green’s elimination, left for the rail at eighth place. Banghart opened for 125,000 and Pengelly 3-bet to 350,000 from the cutoff. Deas called from the button and Banghart called as well. The flop ran and Banghart checked to Pengelly who led in 350,000. Deas instantly announced all in for 1,400,000, prompting Banghart to fold, while Pengelly snap-called. Pengelly tabled for a set of jacks while Deas was trailing with , with no sign of relief on the turn and the river, he was relegated to the rail at eighth place.
Alan Cummins was then eliminated in seventh place in a hand where he tangled with Banghart who opened for 180,000 from the cutoff, to which Cummins moved all in from the big blind for 1 Million. Banghart turned over against Cummins’ . The flop favored Banghart who hit a two pair on the turn. Cummins also grabbed an extra out but the river bricked out.
Banghart then sent Matthew Bray to the rail in sixth place. He raised to 250,000 from the small blind and Bray announced all in from the big blind. Banghart snap called and turned over and a shocked Bray tabled . Banghart’s hand held on the runout ending Bray`s dream run.
The five finalists then paused the clock to discuss a possible deal. A straight ICM chop was agreed upon and Pengelly was to get the biggest payout, while payout amounts were also locked in for the other four. The race for the title and the bracelet then resumed on a turbo structure, and the levels were shortened to 30-minute duration.
Shortly thereafter, Dean Baranowski was eliminated when Green raised to 250,000 and Pengelly called from the button. Baranowski re-raised all in for his last 1,350,000 and Green folded. Pengelly called and said, “Let’s gamble!” Pengelly tabled vs. Baranowski’s . The flop came and Pengelly flopped a pair of sevens to the take the lead that won him the pot on the turn and the river while Baranowski bounced out in fifth place.
Jeff Banghart sent many players to the rail in the tournament but went short-stacked after losing a hand to Green. He did manage to triple up through back to back hands but then lost stream when he moved all in with 1,000,000 from the button and was called off by the small blind Pengelly. The cards were on their backs, with Pengelly tabling against Banghart’s . Pengelly’s ten-high held up on the board and Banghart was eliminated in fourth place.
Next up, Pengelly raised to 300,000 on the button and Ekrem Bozkurt made it 1 Million to which Pengelly responded by moving all in. Bozkurt instantly called and tabled Ax 5x. Pengelly announced he had “Johnsons” and tabled . The board came and Bozkurt lost the pot, also ending his tournament run in third place.
Pengelly remained an overwhelming chip lead and several hands into the heads-up play, Ricky Green was eliminated in runner-up place when Pengelly called a bet of 500,000 from Green. Both players checked the flop to see the turn. Pengelly check-called a bet of 500,000. On the river, he moved all in and was called by Green. Pengelly tabled for a flush, Green had Qx9x. Losing the hand, Green also lost the bracelet to Pengelly.
Final Table Results (USD)
1. Will Pengelly – $249,310*
2. Ricky Green – $205,710*
3. Ekrem Bozkurt – $215,170*
4. Jeff Banghart – $206,570*
5. Dean Baranowski – $144,000*
6. Matthew Bray – $75,440
7. Alan Cummins – $58,580
8. Johnny Deas – $46,060
9. Brian Green – $36,640
*denotes five-way deal