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If it wasn’t enough for Darren Elias (cover image) to win three World Poker Tour (WPT) titles in the past, the American has done it again! In the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic that was hosted at Aria in Las Vegas from May 20-23, Elias flamboyantly dominated a 162-player field and shipped the tournament for $387,580 in prize money.
Along with the title Elias has earned a $15,000 seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions that will be subsequently hosted in the Aria. With titles at the WPT 2017 Fallsview Poker Classic, WPT 2014 Caribbean and WPT 2014 Borgata Open to his credit, this win takes his overall career live tournament cashes to $6 Million.
Elias has also created a benchmark in the history of WPT with the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic adding to his previous record 28 WPT cashes.
The tournament, with a $10,000 buy-in and a prize pool of $1,555,200 witnessed participation of many poker heavyweights including Sam Panzica, Stephen Chidwick, Joe McKeehen, Phil Hellmuth, winner of 2 WPT titles Jonathan Little, one-time WPT champion Dietrich Fast and WPT 2015 Main Event winner Joe McKeehen.
Kitty Kuo who had recently final-tabled the AU$25,000 Aussie Millions High Roller also jumped into the fray. On the final table she was pushed to the second position slot after a long heads-up duel with Elias.
Final Table Recap
The final table began at the PokerGo Studio and Elias maintained a dominant streak right from the beginning, holding 44% of the total chips in play.
Stephen Chidwick (9th for $37,255) and Ray Qartomy (8th for $45,975) were the first players to hit the rails. Elias eliminated Phil Hellmuth in seventh place for $57,935. Most players had relatively moderate stacks that worked to his favor.
On the 15th hand, Jonathan Little shoved with from the small blind and was busted at sixth place when Panzica tabled and the flop opened :9h with the turn and river not bringing any favorable card for the former.
McKeehen who was struggling with a short stack shoved with and doubled up through Panzica who called with ace-queen. The flop brought McKeehen a set and Panzica lost chips with the turn bringing . Then, Panzica raised under-the-gun and shoved against Elias’s three-bet. Here, Elias called with pocket sixes and Panzica showed ace-queen. A ten-high flop eliminated the latter in fifth place.
Dietrich Fast was relegated to the rail in fourth place when he called with pocket aces against Kuo’s nut-flush draw and the turn got her the flush.
Elias soon opened with 45,000 from the button at 10,000/20,000/3,000 on which McKeehen three-bet 180,000 from big blind. Elias first used one-time bank and then went all-in with to which McKeehen’s called with . The board ran out and Elias won the pot shunting McKeenen out at third place.
What came next was the final battle between Elias and Kuo, with both having a near-even chip count in the beginning but Kuo saw her fortunes dwindling along with her stack. Elias claimed a clear victory after a sweaty run of 103 hands and Kuo finished second in the event cashing $248,380.
“She was short most of the time. With the strategy she was playing, if I didn’t get good cards it was going to take awhile. We were both limping. She was limping a ton. I didn’t really want to press the action if I didn’t have to. The blinds kept going up and she just wouldn’t die. She played tough”, recounted Elias, after the tournament.
Final Table Results
1. Darren Elias – $387,580
2. Kitty Kuo- $248,380
3. Joe McKeehen- $178,610
4. Dietrich Fast – $130,895
5. Sam Panzica – $97,795
6. Jonathan Little – $74,795
7. Phil Hellmuth – $57,935
8. Ray Qartomy – $45,975
9. Stephen Chidwick – $37,255