Always bet on Black
There was high drama last night in the World Poker Tour (WPT) Five Diamond World Poker Classic as poker pro Taylor Black surrendered one of the biggest final table chip-leads ever seen but dug deep to still claim the title.
a prize pool of $7.16m
A total of 716 players ponied up $10,400 for the prestigious event, generating a prize pool of $7.16m. The lion’s share of $1,241,430 went to Black, while Vik Shegal and Gianluca Speranza won $827,620 and $609,960 respectively for their podium finishes.
The five-day tournament is a highlight of the poker calendar, always boasting a who’s who of poker’s elite. In a fun twist, the first four days of play took place inside the Bellagio main poker room, while the televised final day was hosted at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino.
Show me the money
As is the norm, Day 2 was moving day as the field shrunk to just 105 players. That meant the bubble would burst early on Day 3 and unsurprisingly, the remaining field was jam-packed with talent.
After the requisite 15 eliminations, the defending champion Alex Foxen (90th) exited stage left with a $18,110 min-cash. Next out was FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief and headline guest on a recent episode of ‘The Chip Race’ Nate Silver (89th). David Baker managed a small ladder jump before busting in 79th. Brits Martins Adeniya and Chris Moorman came 75th and 73rd respectively, with the winningest poker live tournament player of all time Justin Bonomo (74th) sandwiched between them.
This year’s breakout poker star Vanessa Kade came 68th.
As the day progressed, more notables hit the rail. Darren Elias (65th), Joseph Cheong (64th), Nick Schulman (60th), and Jason Koon (52nd) all bust outside the top 50. Before the end of the day, there were also the eliminations of Erik Seidel (46th) and Andrew Lichtenberger (32nd).
War of attrition
Day 4 saw a war of attrition. Matt Berkey (27th) fell early. Millions champion Marty Mathis came 20th and WSOPE Main Event champion Elio Fox finished 19th. There were still some big names in the mix but, if anything, the remaining field was thinning. This represented a huge opportunity for the likes of Bryn Kenney and former champion Dylan Linde to flex as the pay-jumps got steeper and the ICM more pronounced.
Black’s pocket aces took Kenney (7th) out by the roots
Kenney won a huge flush over flush hand versus Taylor Black on Day 3 but, undeterred, Black mounted a sizeable comeback and took that momentum into Day 4. Seated together once again, the two men battled relentlessly. When the unofficial final table was set, Linde succumbed in 8th and then Black’s pocket aces took Kenney (7th) out by the roots on the official final table bubble.
Black held a preposterously big chip lead as the remaining players broke for the night. He had 60% of the chips at 17 million, but nothing is ever easy in poker and as the players switched venues, there was still work to be done if he was to add a WPT title to his Millions North America victory from 2018.
Black continued to dominate throughout the first couple hours of the final table before a series of setbacks. In one crucial hand that cost him pole position, he doubled up Day 3 chip-leader Gianluca Speranza, re-shoving Ace-Jack into the Italian’s Ace-King.
David Kim bust in 6th, followed by Mohsin Charania (5th), and Frenchman Lorenzo Lavis (4th). That set up a fascinating battle between Speranza, Shegal, and Black who got himself back to the chip-lead via another huge hand versus Speranza.
Shegal ultimately KO’d Speranza and with both players guaranteed $827,620, the stage was set for a $413,790 heads-up match. Black held a 2:1 lead and after some early tussles, he eventually turned the screws on Shegal. In the final hand, his Ace-King held versus Shegal’s Ace-Eight. That was all she wrote as Black took his spot in the WPT Champions Club.
2021 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Final Table Results:
- Taylor Black ~ $1,241,430
- Vik Shegal ~ $827,620
- Gianluca Speranza ~ $609,960
- Lorenzo Lavis ~ $454,590
- Mohsin Charania ~ $342,645
- David Kim ~ $261,235