Canadian Eric Afriat is the newest member of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Champions Club, winning the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Main Event, the largest WPT event in the tour's history with 1,795 entries!
Afriat defeated WPT Player of the Year leader Mukul Pahuja heads-up for $1,081,184 and a seat in next week’s season-ending WPT Championship event in Atlantic City. Eric will now have his name engraved on the WPT Champions Cup with other Canadian WPT Champions like Daniel Negreanu, Shawn Buchanan, Jonathan Roy, Paul Klann, and Matthew Lapossie.
When heads-up play began, Afriat held a 2.5:1 chip lead over Pahuja with 38,575,000 to Pahuja’s 15,050,000. Seven hands in to the heads-up battle, Afriat grabbed his title.
On the final hand, Afriat min-raised to 1,000,000, Pahuja moved all-in for 10,800,000 and Afriat made the call with . Pahuja held and a classic race was underway for a WPT title. The final flop, turn, and river were laid out and Eric Afriat raked in the last pot of the tournament. Pahuja finished runner-up earning $691,965.
With the runner-up finish, Pahuja now holds a commanding lead in the WPT POY race and with next week’s final event, only Dylan Wilkerson and Shaun Suller can catch him. They will both require a victory in order to do so.
It took only 14 hands to lose the first casualty of the night. James Mackey min-raised from the cutoff to 300,000 and Chance Kornuth moved all-in for 2,625,000. Mackey made the call with putting Kornuth at risk and behind with . The flop gave Kornuth a ray of light, rolling out and hitting his Queen, but the turn left him drawing thin. The river sealed Kornuth’s fate, busting in 6th place for $247,954.
A short while later in hand #30, Matt Stout moved all-in from the button for 3,325,000 and Pahuja made the call after a short tank with . Stout had two live cards holding and needed some help to stay alive. The board ran out and Stout hit the rail in 5th place earning $308,501.
In hand #62, Jacob Bazeley raised under the gun to 525,000 and Afriat called from the big blind. The flop was dealt , Afriat bet 300,000, Bazeley took a moment before raising to 1,300,000, Afriat three-bet to 2,800,000, and Bazeley again tanked before four-bet shoving for 6,125,000. Afriat snap-called with for two pair and Bazeley turns over . The turn and river were no help to Bazeley as Afriat took down the huge pot and eliminated Bazeley in 4th place.
After 86 hands of three-way action, in hand #148, Pahuja min-raised from the button to 800,000, James Mackey moved all-in from the big blind for 6,800,000, and Pahuja snap-called showing . Mackey was in trouble with and needed to improve. The board ran out and James mackey was sent packing in 3rd place for $441,128.
The season-ending WPT Championship will be held at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City next week. The $15,000 Main Event will host the winners of all Season XII’s Main Event champions, who won free entry with their victories, and the top players in the world. The WPT Championship is one of the most prestigious and sought-after titles of the year and we will no doubt witness some amazing action.
PokerNews Canada will be tracking the progress of Afriat and all the Canadian contingent throughout the event and end-of-day recaps of all the action until a new Champion is crowned.
Congratulations once again to Eric Afriat, WPT Champion! Your nation is proud of you!
*Data and photos courtesy of the WPT Blog.