Saturday, September 22, 2012


$3300 + $200 WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship NLH

Ben Hamnett - $818,847
2012 WPT Borgata Poker Open Champion

Ben Hamnett (Pittsburgh, PA) came to the WPT Borgata Poker Open final table ranked fifth out of six players in chips.  He wasted no time, doubling up through the chip leader Matt Burnitz (Bear, DE) on the third hand of play to take the chip lead.  Even though the final table was six handed, these two continued to clash throughout the day, but when the last cards were dealt, Ben Hamnett came out on top.  He claimed $818,847 in prize money, the WPT Borgata Poker Open trophy, and will have his name permanently inscribed on the WPT Champions Cup.

Hamnett didn't let his starting chip deficit deter him. "A lot of people play with blind aggression and you know if you get in a hand with them, one of you is going to go broke...I don't play like that, but I try to punish people, winning a lot of small pots.  I want people to feel like if they get in a hand with me, its not going to be a coin flip....something bad is going to happen."

That's what happened on the third hand of the day.  Second place finisher Matt Burnitz called Hamnett's all-in on the river on an Ace-high board.  Both players held an Ace, but Hamnett had the better kicker and doubled up.

David 'Lefty' Diaz (Memphis, TN) earned his first WSOP bracelet this summer and was hoping to add another title to his already impressive tournament resume.  He got his chips in ahead of Steve Brecher (Reno, NV) but was run down on the river.  Diaz finished 6th for $167,337.

Steve Brecher's name is already on that WPT Champions Cup from his 2009 win at the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star ($1,025,500).  He was in the hunt for a second WPT title today, but after losing a sizable pot to Ben Hamnett, he became the short-stack and despite doubling up once, he found himself all-in with top pair and a straight draw against Hamnett's flush and straight draws.  Hamnett made the flush and Brecher busted in 5th place ($206,821).

Ofir Mor (Woodmere, NY) made his second final table appearance in this event in two years.  In 2010, he was at this same final table, finishing 3rd ($266,835).  Today he started the table dead last in chips, but moved up to 4th place ($250,065).  He was dispatched by eventual 3rd place finisher Tyler Patterson ($298,950).

Matthew Burnitz was unable to overcome the 2:1 chip deficit he faced when heads-up play began.  It only took about 30 hands and it was over.  His last ~4 million went in pre-flop with JT suited and was trailing Ben Hamnett's KQ.  A Queen on the board sent the pot to Hamnett.  Burnitz took second place and $488,850. 

In an unusual twist, this final table of six was comprised of all professional or semi-professional poker players -- not an amateur in the bunch.  The final two also took advantage of the re-entry aspect of this event.  Both Hamnett and Burnitz played on day 1A, busted out, and re-entered on day 1B.  "I can't even remember that far back"  Hamnett said about his first starting day.  Both turned this five-day-long tournament into a six-day-long event, and were looking forward to getting some rest.

All the entries from days 1A and 1B combined for a total field of 1,181 entries and created total buy-ins of $3,897,300.  In addition to the final 110 players that earned a piece of the prize pool, a $10,000 bonus was paid to the end of day 1 chip leaders.  Day 1A chip leader Robert Boyko (Yonkers, NY) failed to make the money, but walked away with his $10,000 bonus.  Day 1B chip leader Brian Lemke (Norristown, PA) held on and made the money, finishing 67th for $8,762 (in addition to his $10k bonus).

Several former champions turned up for this event.  Last year's winner Bahbak 'Bobby' Oboodi (Morris Plains, NJ) made it all the way to day four, only to bust out 2 spots from the money (112th place).  The 2010 WPT BPO Champion Dwyte Pilgrim (Brooklyn, NY) held on to cash, finishing 109th for $7,070.  2009 winner Olivier Busquet (New York, NY) made it to day two, but didn't make day three.

Other WPT champions who played but did not cash include Carlos Mortensen, Gavin Smith, Barry Greenstein, Andy Frankenberger, Will 'the Thrill' Failla, Jonathan Little, Tommy Vedes, and Matt Salsberg.

The newest WPT Champion Ben Hamnett is only 29 years old and has been playing poker professionally for about seven years.  His largest cash before this event was for almost $40k in the WSOP main event this summer.  For Hamnett, poker is a means to an end.  He's into entertainment and wants to start a film production company.  This windfall may help him make that happen.

Final Table Results
1.  Benjamin Hamnett (Pittsburgh, PA):  $818,847
2.  Matthew Burnitz (Bear, DE): $488,850
3.  Tyler Patterson (Everett, WA): $298,950
4.  Ofir Mor (Woodmere, NY): $250,065
5.  Steve Brecher (Reno, NV):  $206,821
6.  David Diaz (Bartlett, TN):  $167,337

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