When the final six players in the World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Championship bagged up their chips on January 13, 2020 they knew there was going to be a delay before they got the chance to crown a champion. They just didn’t know it was going to last 422 days.
Originally scheduled to be played on March 31, 2020 at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, the final table was ultimately postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. With live poker slowly opening back up in Sin City, the six players, including chip leader Chance Kornuth, were brought into the PokerGo studio at the Aria Hotel & Casino to resume play on Wednesday night.
It took just an hour of play to go from six players to five and it ended what could have been an historic night. From UTG, Tuan Phan raised to 60,000, Chance Kornuth called from the cutoff, and Qing Liu, who won the WPT Venetian on Tuesday night, defended his big blind. Liu then led for 100,000 after the flop. Phan and Kornuth both called. The turn was the and this time Liu checked. Phan bet 350,000 forcing Kornuth toss his hand into the muck before Liu moved all in for 755,000. Phan called and tabled for an overpaid while Liu showed for bottom two pair. The river was the to give Phan a better two pair and end Liu’s run at winning WPT titles in back-to-back days with a sixth place finish.
On the very next hand, Phan sent another player to the cashier. Straton Wilhelm moved all in from the cutoff for 430,000 with and Phan snap-called from the big blind with . The runout offered Wilhelm no relief and he was eliminated in fifth.
Kornuth started the final table with the chip lead but wasn’t able to turn into his first WPT title. After a little more than 2.5 hours of four-handed action and playing with the shortest stack, Kornuth came out on the wrong end of a battle of the blinds. Action folded to Kornuth in the small blind and he called with . Markus Gonsalves moved all in from the big blind with and Kornuth called. The flop moved Gonsalves ahead and left Kornuth drawing thin. The turn and river were both bricks for Kornuth and he was done in fourth place.
Just 12 hands later, Gonsalves found another victim. Phan opened to 125,000 from the button before Jonathan Cohen moved all in for 1,465,000 from the small blind. Gonsalves re-shoved from the big blind and Phan quickly got out of the way. Cohen showed but got bad news when Gonsalves showed . The flop changed nothing and Cohen could only watch as the turn and completed the board to seal his fate with a third place finish.
Gonzalves was ahead by a 5-1 margin when heads up play began. Phan seemingly refused to play any big pots with Gonsalves and three hours into heads up play, Phan wrestled the chip lead away. It turned out to be all for naught however as Gonsalves quickly took the lead back and then finished Phan off for good. Gonsalves completed his small blind and Phan checked to send both players to a flop. Phan check-called Gonsalves’ bet of 200,000. Phan checked again after the fell on the turn. Gonsalves bet 600,000 and this time Phan moved all in for 3,075,000. Gonsalves called and showed for a flush while Phan had flopped bottom two pair with . The river failed to fill up Phan and he was eliminated in second place, leaving Gonsalves to collect the $554,495 first place prize and etch his name onto the WPT Champions Cup.
“I feel like he ran really well against me heads up. I was getting frustrated, when he took the chip lead from me I started to get frustrated. I was more tired than anything,” Gonsalves said. He also couldn’t help but point out that the win gives him one more WPT title than a certain 15-time WSOP bracelet winner.
“I think I’ve come close once or twice before so it feels nice to finally win one. All my friends have them. That’s going to be great to troll Phil [Hellmuth], that’s for sure,” Gonsalves said.
WPT Gardens Poker Championship Final Table Payouts
- Matthew Gonsalves – $554,495
- Tuan Phan – $359,650
- Jonathan Cohen – $263,090
- Chance Kornuth – $195,085
- Straton Wilhelm – $146,655
- Qing Liu – $111,795