The World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open 2019 Championship event has finally come to a conclusion roughly six weeks after the Final Table was set.
The $3500 buy-in Championship event kicked off on January 27 at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After five days of action, the tournament was paused to play the finale out at the newly opened HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas for the televised Final Table.
The six-handed Final Table resumed on March 13 after a 41-day break giving the finalists enough time to prepare for the big finale. Dave Farah entered the Final Table with the chip lead and a healthy stack size of 18.85 million (126 bb). He was accompanied by Brandon Hall who was sitting in the second position, followed by Daniel Buzgon—freshly appointed Borgata ambassador, Joseph Di Rosa Rojas, Ian O’ Hara and Vinicius Lima.
After nearly 11 hours of play that spanned 236 hands, it was 24-year-old Vinicius Lima, from the US, who emerged victorious to take down his first-ever WPT title and a career-best score of $728,430. He also won a $15,000 seat to the WPT Baccarat Crystal Tournament of Champions, along with a Hublot Big Bang Steel Watch and the WPT Champions Cup trophy for his efforts.
“Step one was planning on never going broke today,” Vinicius Lima said after his win. “I was very fortunate to have good energy with me and ran good at good times, and when I was all in, I held up. I just battled and was very fortunate to have won this thing. It’s surreal and unbelievable.”
What was even more impressive was that he started the Final Table as the shortest stack with just 24 big blinds. The first elimination went down on just the eleventh hand of play. However, it took six hours of play for the next player to hit the rail. After that, Lima was unstoppable as he knocked out the remaining four players including the 48-year old Dave Farrah who started the day with the chip lead.
“I came in with a short stack, so aside from just a little ICM work there wasn’t too much to be focused on,” he says. “I just focused more on my health and mental aspects of things so I could be prepared for a long session like today.”
Borgata Winter Poker Open WPT History
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The Borgata Winter Poker Open Championship event drew a massive field of 1415 entrants to make it the largest WPT Main Event ever held at Borgata and also the third-largest WPT Main Tour field size of all time. It generated a prize pool of 4.5 million—well in excess of its $3 million guarantee.
The event attracted some of the world’s best poker players including all-time WSOP bracelet leader— Phil Hellmuth, WSOP Main Event winners Joe McKeehen and Scott Blumstein, defending champion Eric Afriat, 2014 Borgata Poker Open winner Darren Elias, former PokerStars Team Pro Victor Ramdin and many other well-accomplished players.
For the first time, the Final Table saw a change in location as a part of WPT’s plan to film several final tables of its tour simultaneously at the new venue. The WPT Borgata Championship event was the third Final Table that was held this week at the Hyper Esports Arena. Earlier this week, David “ODB” Baker took down the WPT L.A. Poker Classic on Monday and Frank Stepuchin won the WPT Gardens Poker Championship on Tuesday.
This week, the World Poker Tour also announced its partnership with leading video streaming service provider Unreel to offer poker fans free OTT (over-the-top) streaming service dubbed WatchWPT.
Next month, Borgata will once again kick off its premier live tournament series, Borgata Spring Poker Open starting April 2. Over $3.5 million is guaranteed including a $1 million Championship event. Online qualifiers and satellites kicked off on March 15.