Sometimes you have to take down one of the top players from Scandinavia to get your named etched on the Mike Sexton trophy. That's when Alexander Yen had to achieve if he wanted to win the latest stop on the World Poker Tour, which was no ordinary Sunday in South Florida.
The latest stop on the World Poker Tour featured the swanky Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, which has become a popular destination in January for locals and grinders on the poker circuit. The 2022 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open attracted 1,982 runners in the $3,500 buy-in Main Event. The prize pool swelled to $6.34 million and the top 241 places earned a cut of the prize pool. First place paid out just short of a cool million with $975,240 set aside to the champion.
The final table of the 2022 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open included Anton Wigg, Alexander Yen, Josh Kay, Daniel Lazrus, Omar Lakdhari, and Nicholas Verderamo. With six remaining at the SHR, Alex Yen bagged the chip lead with a big stack worth 27.5M. Josh Kay headed into the final table with the second-biggest stack with 18.15M. Anton Wigg from Sweden was third overall with a hair under 17M. The three smaller stacks included Daniel Lazrus (7.35M), Omar Lakdhari (4.8M), and Nicholas Verderamo (4.4).
It took 27 hands before we saw the first elimination at the final table. Short-stacked Omar Lakhdari shipped his chips with in a race against Daniel Lazrus' . It was an action flop of with Lazrus flopping a set of nines against Lakhdari's King-high flush draw. The spiked on the turn and Lakhdari picked up a gut-shot straight draw. Lazrus faded a slew of outs when the fell on the river and his set of nines held up. Lakhdari's pair of Kings were no match and he was the first player to bust at the final table. Sixth place paid out $208,025. Lazrus chipped up to 11.7M to get much-needed breathing room.
Josh Kay had his stack under assault from the get-go. On Hand #46, Kay made a final stand with and actually was ahead of Anton Wigg's . Alas, the poker gods can be cruel and the flop was . Wigg took the lead with trip Queens. The turn was the and Kay picked up a nut flush draw. He whiffed on the river with the . Wigg dragged the pot with trip Queens, and Kay was knocked out in fifth place, which paid out $272,830. Wigg padded his big stack and held over 33M in chips.
On Hand #50, Verderamo said farewell to the final table. He made a final stand with , but got ambushed by Yen's . Th pocket queens held up and Verderamo headed to the rail in fourth place, which paid out $361,130.
With three players remaining, Yen chipped up to 38.1M followed by Anton Wigg with 31.8M. Dan Lazrus was the short stack with 9.3M. The trio would fling chips around for another 46 hands before the next bustout.
On Hand #96, Lazrus made a final stand with and Yen accepted a duel with . Yen took the lead when he flopped a pair of Jacks. He turned two pair -- Jackson Five -- and dragged the pot with a better two pair versus Lazrus' sixes and fives. Lazrus banked $482,380 for third place.
With two to go, Wigg railed by over 2-to-1 with 22.6M versus Yen's 57.7M. On Hand #104, Wigg doubled up with Ace-ten vs King-Queen when Wen bluffed at a pot when Wigg flopped top pair. He cut the lead to 43.5M to 35.8M. A couple of hands later Wigg seized the chip lead.
Wen regained the lead with a little aggression. Twenty hands into their heads-up joust, Yen led 44.1M to 35.2M. Three hands later it was all over.
On Hand #119, Anton Wigg woke up with pocket Queens. Yen took into battle. He flopped the joint and a straight flush draw on a flop of . The turn is the and Wigg improved to two pair. The fell on the river and Yen's straight held up. Wigg's Queens up with were no good. Anton Wigg banked $650,180 for a runner-up finish. Not too shabby, eh?
Alexander Yen earned $975,240 for a first-place finish and he's the first big winner on the WPT this year with a victory at the 2022 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open. He also won a freeroll into the season-ending Tournament of Champions.
Notable players who went deep and cashed at the 2022 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open included... Jeremy Ausmus, Cherish Andrews, Ronnie Abro, Andre Esposito, Joe Crowley, Matt Bond, Galen Hall, Shannon Shorr, Dan Beers, James Carroll, Loni Hui, Nitis Udornpim, Mike Lech, Michael Gathy, Bing Weng, Jaime Cervantes, TK Miles, Alex Nguyen, Athanasios Polychronopoulos, Brock Wilson, Jeff Madsen, Eric Afriat, Frank Funaro, Scott Baumstein, Lee Markholt, Erik Seidel, Landon Tice, Frank Stepuchin, Jean Gaspard, JJ Liu, Nick Pupillo, Mike Vela, Chris Moorman, Jesse Lonis, Calais Campbell, Joe Di Rosa Rojas, Jeff Platt, Tim Reilly, Darryll Fish, Chad Eveslage, Ali Imsirovic, and Nick Yunis.