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Preventing WPT champion Darren Elias from clinching a record-breaking fifth WPT title, Matthew Waxman (cover image) won the season-ending World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions (TOC) Season XVI that was held at ARIA Resort & Casino with the final table hosted at the Esports Arena in Las Vegas. Waxman won the coveted gold WPT TOC trophy and pocketed $463,375 that includes a $15,000 seat to the next WPT TOC.
In addition to the aforementioned, the American pro also won a $50,000 JetSmarter membership, a luxury Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium Ceramic watch, a custom BBO poker table and a Baccarat Crystal Bubble Box.
During the tournament, Art Papazyan was officially declared the Hublot WPT Player of the Year for Season XVI, for securing 2,450 points, two WPT wins and cashing in a third event.
The WPT TOC began in ARIA on May 24 with 80 WPT Champions Club members, making it the largest WPT TOC till date. A lot of WPT champions from earlier WPT seasons joined the ultimate WPT tournament of the year. These included the WPT Season II champ Paul Phillips, Season IV champs Gavin Smith, Nam Le and Nick Schulman, Eli Elezra and Daniel Negreanu from Season III.
Waxman admitted that he was indecisive earlier in the day whether to even play in the tournament that had a high buy-in and a tough player field, but he’s glad he did!
“Although there were only 80 players, the atmosphere – you can just feel the tension. It’s a real treat to play, and to be able to win this thing is amazing,” Waxman said.
Players entered the tournament with a deep 500-big blind stack and 29 players reached Day 2.
The tension in the air was not to be missed and Elias ruled the last hand of the day sending Ryan Reiss and JC Tran to the rails.
Only five players reached the final table. Those who managed to cash in the tournament included JC Tran (6th place), Ryan Reiss (7th place), Sam Panzica (8th place), Nam Le (9th place) and Justin Young (10th place).
Final Table Recap
At Esports Arena, the final table began with Elias in the chip lead. Over the next 48 hands, he maintained his position while other players rapidly changed their positions on the leaderboard but then the eventual champion won a major hand from Elias which propelled him to the top.
The first player to walk out was Nick Schulman whose locked horns with Elias’ . At showdown, the board appeared and Schulman got eliminated in the fifth place.
In the next major hand, WPT Grand Prix de Paris Season II champion David Benyamine’s couldn’t beat Elias’ as the board opened bringing a two-outer for Elias and bouncing Benyamine off the game at fourth position for $123,045.
The next pot witnessed an intense and defining battle between Elias and Waxman. Elias, who was now chip leading again, held and four-bet shoved which got called by Waxman’s called all-in. Had the board not opened Waxman would have busted but he hit a straight to jump back in lead.
Elias’ dream run for a fifth WPT title then ended when he shoved with and here, Matas Cimbolas called with . The flop brought an ace and Elias got relegated to the rail at third place.
Waxman entered the heads-up match against Cimbolas with a 2-1 chip advantage. The next few hands saw them both losing some, winning some but soon, Cimbolas started climbings down and in the final hand, Waxman check-called all three streets with his on a board and called Cimbolas’s bluff. Cimbolas who had shoved all-in with took the runner-up position.
Final Table Results (USD)
1. Matthew Waxman – $463,375
2. Matas Cimbolas – $265,590
3. Darren Elias – $177,060
4. David Benyamine – $123,045
5. Nick Schulman – $89,290