Matthew Wantman dominates the final table of the World Poker Tour ARIA Summer Championship, beating Igor Kurganov, heads-up, to claim his first major title.
The first time that Matthew Wantman made the final table of a World Poker Tour (WPT) Main Event he was like footprints in the sand washed away by the sea.
Wantman’s sixth-place finish came at the 2016 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, and it’s safe to say he’s exorcised any remaining demons after overcoming a 192-entrant field to win the ARIA Summer Championship.
It’s Wantman’s fourth live tournament win, and this one tops his previous personal best – a runner-up finish to Wenhao Ying in the Borgata Fall Poker Open Championship earning him $172,449 last winter.
As you would expect for a $10,000 buy-in, it was another cracking final table. The Season XVI WPT Player of the Year, Art Papazyan and Kevin Eyster were chasing their third WPT title, and WSOP bracelet winners Jim Collopy, Ryan Laplante and Igor Kurganov were chasing their first.
The (nutshell) action
Laplante was the first to exit stage left when he lost a flip against Wantman AdKh<JhJs, and Collopy followed him when his Ac8d failed to beat the pocket queens of Wantman when all-in pre-flop.
Wantman made it three eliminations on the spin when his pocket queens devoured the KdJc of Eyster when all-in, pre-flop, and that gave him a commanding lead going into three-handed play.
Three handed play
Wantman – 4,830,000
Papazyan – 2,180,000
Kurganov – 670,000
Kurganov doubled through Wantman QcQd>JhJd to give him the chip edge over Papazyan, but the former WPT Player of the Year rallied to take the chip lead, before losing every single one of them to Kurganov QsJh<AhQd.
Wantman – 4,070,000
Kurganov – 3,610,000
$17.5m in live earnings made Kurganov the favourite despite his slim chip disadvantage, and he was eager to add a title to his clip after missing the highest place on the rostrum since taking down a €25k at the PokerStars Championship in Prague for $438,493 back in 2017. However, Kurganov’s title hopes vanished on the back of this hand
Wantman extended his lead when with blinds at 20k/40k/40k, he opened to 120,000, and Kurganov called. The dealer splayed Jd8s5d onto the flop, Kurganov checked, Wantman bet 105,000, and Kurganov called. The turn card was the 9s; Kurganov checked, Wantman bet 280,000, and Kurganov check-raised to 1,050,000 – Wantman made the call. The river card was the Td; Kurganov bet 300,000, and Wantman used a time bank chip before raising to 1,120,000. Kurganov burned through five-time bank chips before folding to give Wantman a 5,665,000>2,015,000 chip lead.
Wantman gobbled up the rest of Kurganov’s stack after calling the Russian’s all-in with AcJs. Kurganov showed the dominated Ad6c and had to make do with a runner-up finish.
Final table results
1. Matthew Wantman – $443,475*
2. Igor Kurganov – $285,650
3. Art Papazyan – $209,980
4. Kevin Eyster – $156,220
5. Jim Collopy – $117,640
6. Ryan Laplante – $89,685
*Includes a seat into the Tournament of Champions
Three other bright sparks who produced lightning in this one included the former WSOP bracelet winner and WPT Champ, Noah Schwartz (7th), the All-Time Money Earner Leader, Justin Bonomo (13th) and the Triton champion, Jason Koon (14th).