It's been a crazy 24 hours for Qing Liu. He had a shot at winning two events at the World Poker Tour in consecutive days. Tuesday night, Liu took down the WPT Venetian at the Venetian for a sweet score worth $753K. He advanced to the final table of the 2020 WPT Gardens, a final table which he qualified for 14 months earlier, and had a shot at another big score. However, Liu came up short in his second final table. He was shortstacked and couldn't get anything going and was the first player to bust.
The 2020 WPT Gardens Poker Championship started at the Gardens Casino on the outskirts of Los Angeles last January. The plan was that the delayed final table would play out in Las Vegas at the HyperX eSports Arena at the Luxor... but then the pandemic hit and then the WPT was sold... sorta, almost, maybe. So, 14 months later... the WPT finally played down the 2020 WPT Gardens Poker Championship at the PokerGo Studios at the Aria.
The 2020 WPT Gardens Poker Championship final table included Straton Wilhelm, Markus Gonsalves, Qing Liu, Tuan Phan, Jonathan Cohen, and Chance Kornuth.
Chance Kornuth came into the final table with the lead and a big stack worth nearly 3M. Markus Gonsalves was second in chips with 2.4M, while Tuan Phan bagged up third-most chips with 2M and Jonathan Cohen was fourth with 1.6M. Qing Liu came into the final table with 800K, while Straton Wilhelm bagged up 435K as the short stack.
On Hand #21, Qing Liu outflopped Tuan Phan's pocket Kings with 5-3 offsuit. He flopped two pair and got it all in on the flop. Alas, Phan caught a whiff of luck on the river when the board paired. Phan won the pot and Liu became the first player to exit the final table. For a sixth-place finish, Liu earned $111K. Liu missed out on winning a second WPT title in a 24-hour period, but he was now free to go out and celebrate his big win.
On the next hand, Straton Wilhelm hit the road when his Ace-ten was ambushed by Tuan Phan's A:d. Yup, Phan had Kings and Aces in back-to-back hands... and more importantly... both held up. Phan dragged the pot and Wilhelm busted in fifth place, which paid out $146K. With four to go, Phan seized the chip lead with 3.2M.
On Hand #73, Chance Kornuth made a final stand with pocket sixes but was knocked out by Markus Gonsalves' Ace-five after Gonsalves flopped an Ace. Kornuth banked $195K for a fourth-place finish. With three to go, Gonsalves led with 6.2M and nearly had twice as much as the remaining chips in play.
A dozen hands later, Jonathan Cohen saw his quiet final table end when he made a final stand with pocket nines but Markus Gonsalves woke up with pocket tens. Ouch. For a third-place finish, Cohen banked $263,090.
With two to go, Markus Gonsalves led 8.5M to Tuan Phan's 1.7M. The real fun began. It was like a whole another tournament. The two battled for over 90 hands of heads-up play while Phan hung around and alligator-blooded his way into the wee hours.
On the final hand, the two gentleman got it all-in on the turn. The board was . Gonsalves flopped a ten-high heart flush with , while Phan flopped bottom two-pair with . The river whiffed for Phan and he missed a chance to boat-up and stave off elimination.
Phan banked $359,650 for a runner-up finish. Not too shabby, eh?
Markus Gonsalves won the WPT Gardens Poker Championship 14 months after it started. Wowza. He also added $554,495 to his bankroll.
Nootable players who went deep and cashed (last year) in the WPT Gardens included... David Peters, Byron Kaverman, Joe Cheong, Dan Colpoys, David ODB Baker, Sam Soverel, Sorel Mizzi, Jared Griener, Qi Hu, Sebastiaan de Jonge, Duey Duong, Vlastimil Pustina, Lior Orel, David Miscikowski, Albertin Hernandez, David Lambard, Peter Park, Brendon Williams, Gal Yifrach, Jonathan Depa, Larry Berg, Randall Emmett, Cole Sudeck, Hoang Le, Cory Albertson, and Larry Greenberg.