Bin Weng came into Memorial Day weekend with a chance to achieve something historic. The Philadelphia-based poker player had made the final tables of two separate World Poker Tour main events as the chip leader earlier in May, and would play for both titles and up to $1.5 million in prize money on back-to-back days. The first leg of this unique relay for poker glory ended in victory, as Weng converted his chip lead into the title in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown $3,500 buy-in main event. As the last player standing from a massive field of 2,290 total entries, Weng was awarded his first WPT title and a career-best payday of $1,128,250.
“(Winning a WPT title) was one of my main goals, when I started to play poker (full time) back in 2019,” Weng told WPT reporters after coming out on top. “It means a lot to me, definitely.”
Weng secured the win after around five hours of action, giving him roughly 19 hours to rest and prepare to take a seat at his second final table in as many days, with the WPT Choctaw title and another $400,740 up for grabs.
In addition to the title and the money, Weng was also awarded 1,620 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of the WPT SHRPS main event. This was his third title and seventh final-table finish of 2023, with more than $2.5 million in POY earnings accrued before factoring in what he will earn in the WPT Choctaw main event. With this victory, a win in the World Series of Poker Circuit Horseshoe Las Vegas main event, and The Return main event at Borgata for $1,000,000, Weng is now the third-ranked player in this year’s POY standings, which are presented by Global Poker.
This event was held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood in South Florida, but the final table took place inside the HyperX Arena at the Luxor Las Vegas. Weng began with the chip lead, which he soon increased thanks to a knockout spree.
Weng’s first elimination of the day took place four hands into the final table. Short stack Rafael Farah got all-in with pocket jacks leading the pocket threes of Weng. A three on the flop turned the tables, giving Weng a lead that he did not relinquish through the turn or river. Farah earned $238,000 as the sixth-place finisher.
Naing Thu’s run in this event came to an end in fifth place. He three-bet shoved over the small-blind open of Weng out of the big blind for around 26 big blinds with A-4. Weng called with A-Q to put Thu in rough shape. Weng ended up with queens full of aces to add to his already sizable lead. Thu, primarily a cash game player from Florida, was awarded $312,000 for his strong showing in this event.
The next big all-in confrontation began with David Mzareulov open-shoving from under-the-gun for 11 big blinds with K8. Weng isolated from the small blind with 77. Everyone else got out of the way and the flop came down 766 to give Weng sevens full and more than a 99 percent chance of winning the hand. The J on the turn meant that Mzareulov was officially drawing dead, rendering the 10 a mere formality. Mzareulov received $413,000 for his fourth-place finish, more than doubling his previous top score of $205,000 earned as the runner-up in a Millionaire Mayhem Poker Series $1,125 buy-in event at The Lodge Poker Club in 2021.
Mitch Garshofsky was down to fewer than 13 big blinds when he shoved from the button with 65. Who else but Weng called, revealing AQ from the big blind. The board came down AJ8510 to see Weng win with top pair and a queen kicker. Garshofsky secured a career-high payout of $550,000 as the third-place finisher, growing his tournament earnings to more than $2.4 million in the process.
With that, Weng took more than a 4:1 chip lead into heads-up play with Sri Sangannagari. After breezing from six players down to two, Weng’s quest for the title faced its first challenges at the final table during one-on-one action. Sangannagari made a dent in the lead when he semi-bluffed Weng off of a turned ace-high flush with a flopped ace-high flush draw of his own. He then picked off a multi-street bluff with top pair from the flop that became second pair when an ace rolled off on the turn. Sangannagari called Weng’s river bluff to take the massive pot and move into the lead.
Sangannagari had roughly an 8:3 lead of his own when the next key hand arose. Weng flopped middle set with pocket sevens after limp-calling a raise from the button. Sangannagari lead the flop with pocket queens and then three-bet shoved when Weng raised in position. Weng called and avoided a queen on the turn and river to double back into the lead.
After just a few more hands, Sangannagari had battled his way back in front. He had Weng covered by just a handful of big blinds when the decisive pot of the match arose. Weng raised from the button with J10 and Sangannagari called from the big blind with K4. The flop brought the K93 and Sangannagari check-called with top pair. The turn brought the 2 and Sangannagari checked again. Weng fired another barrel with his flush and gutshot straight draw. Sangannagari check-raised and Weng made the call. The Q on the end gave Weng the nut straight. Sangannagari shoved and Weng snap-called to take more than a 26:1 chip lead.
Sangannagari managed two double ups, but was soon all-in and at risk yet again for around eight big blinds. His J3 was trailing Weng’s K9. He picked up a flush draw on an A95 flop, but the 8 turn and A river brought no further help. Sangannagari was eliminated in second place, earning $745,000 for his efforts. He now has nearly $1.1 million in recorded tournament earnings.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
Photo credits: World Poker Tour / Drew Amato.