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A day after Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen’s reported inappropriate antics drew attention in Event #10: $4,700+300 NLHE Main Event at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Gardens Poker Festival, American pro Simon Lam (cover image) emerged the champion and banked $565,055 in prize money including a $15,000 ticket into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. And that’s not all! Lam also took home a brand new Mercedes-Benz SLC Roadster valued at $50,000.
This is the second career title for the New Yorker and his highest tournament score till date. His first title win came at the $700+70 NLHE Main Event in the 2009 Superstack Hold‘em Series, Verona where he pocketed $34,215. His previous best tournament score was from the $3,300+200 NLHE WPT Main Event in the 2016 WPT Borgata Poker Open Atlantic City where he had collected $250,970 from his fourth place finish.
WPT Gardens Poker Festival was the opening series for the year’s WPT edition and featured 12 events that were all hosted at the Gardens Casino in Los Angeles from July 13th to July 26th.
A total of 584 runners entered the Main Event and the top 46 hopefuls returned on Day 4. With the massive entry-field combining to create a prize pool of $2,944,800, 73 places made it in the money.
Among the notables who fell short of the final table were Marvin Rettenmaier (18th for $24,040), Alex Lynskey (35th for $14,705), Benny Glaser (53rd for $11,295), Ari Engel (55th for $11,295), David ‘The Dragon’ Pham (59th for $10,095) and Jon Turner (66th for $9,145).
Closing down action on Day 4 was the elimination of Tuan Phan (7th for $89,360) with the six finalists bagging chips to come back the next day to play down for the title. By then, Lam held the biggest stack of 6,115,000 with Jake Schindler (4,045,000) and Nguyen (3,935,000) close behind.
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Simon Lam – 6,115,000
2. Jake Schindler – 4,045,000
3. Men Nguyen – 3,935,000
4. Jared Griener – 3,875,000
5. Saya Ono – 3,445,000
6. Craig Varnell – 1,955,000
Nguyen, whose infractions that included announcing incorrect raise amounts and letting his time expire before folding without committing a time-extension chip, was at his sober best on the final day where the six finalists returned to compete for the top prize. In fact, the old hand at poker even dozed off for a while and missed a good few hands before he was woken up!
Final Table Recap
The final six players maintained relatively consistent stacks for the first few hours of play. Schindler had taken an early lead but lost his momentum towards the end.
The first one out was Jared Griener, who had chipped down after losing a flip to Craig Varnell. Griener moved all-in with his pair of jacks against Varnell’s ace-king for 15 big blinds. However, Varnell found one ace on the flop and then another on the river that sent Griener packing in sixth place.
Not long thereafter, the short-stacked Saya Ono moved all in with but ran into Nguyen’s whose clubs sent Ono reeling out in fifth place.
Schindler then doubled up through Lam with top pair against the latter’s flush draw and overcard. For a short while, Varnell moved into the chip lead and though Lam found an ace-king against Nguyen’s ace-queen, the queen-high board sent the pot in Nguyen’s direction denying Lam an opportunity to regain control.
By now, 2018 WSOP $565 PLO bracelet winner Craig Varnell was struggling with a dwindling stack. Varnell crammed from the small blind with . Schindler looked him up from the big blind with and flopped a ten, sending Varnell back to the rail in fourth place.
The three-handed play between Lam, Men Nguyen and Schindler played out over the next few hours. Finally, it was Nguyen who bowed out first in third place. Nguyen open shoved from the button holding and Lam called off with . As luck would have it, Lam found a king on the flop while dodging a gutshot straight draw to eliminate Nguyen.
The heads-up match between Lam and high stakes MTT crusher Jake Schindler was a brief encounter and on the final hand, Schindler got it in with jack-eight against Lam’s jack-nine on a flop. Lam’s hand held up with a higher kicker after the turn and the river blanked out declaring him the champion!
Final Table Results (USD)
1. Simon Lam – $566,055*
2. Jake Schindler – $366,740
3. Men Nguyen – $270,430
4. Craig Varnell – $201,645
5. Saya Ono – $151,995
6. Jared Griener – $115,885
*includes $15,000 Tournament of Champions seat. Does not include 2018 Mercedes valued at over $50,000