The WPT returned to live action in Sin City with the 2021 WPT Venetian. It played from the start to finish the last few days on the Strip. The final table included three-time bracelet winner of former Main Event champion Joe McKeehen and Jack Hardcastle, who was seeking a second WPT title.
The 2021 WPT Venetian had a $5,000 buy-in and a $1.5 million guaranteed prize pool. The first major live tournament in Las Vegas attracted 937 runners and they boosted a prize pool worth $4.3 million. Only the top 118 places paid out in the WPT Venetian with most of the cheesecake set aside to the top two places including $753K set aside to the winner.
Joe McKeehen, the marquee name at the WPT Venetian, came into the final table with the big stack. He had final tabled four events but never went the distance. McKeehen bagged the lead with 10.8M. Roland Rokita was second with 8.5M. Trace Henderson (5.9M) and Qing Liu (5.7M) were both stuck in the middle together. The small stacks were Kou Vang (3.5M) and Jack Hardcastle (3M). Hardcastle came into the final table as the shortest stack remaining and would need a lot of work if he expected to ship a second WPT crown.
It took 36 hands before someone busted at the final table at the Venetian. Trace Henderson made a final stand with pocket nines against Qui Liu's . Liu took the lead on the turn when the hit. Henderson busted in sixth place which paid out nearly $156K. With five to go, McKeehen chipped up to 14.2M and Roland Rokita moved up to 10.7M. Qing Liu moved into third with 6.7M.
It took 43 hands before someone else hit the bricks. Kou Vang got it all-in with Big Slick against McKeehen's pocket eights. McKeehen flopped a set, which held up against Vang's pair of Aces. Vang took home $204,420 for a heady fifth place. With four to go, McKeehen chipped up to 18.5M.
Short-stacked Hardcastle busted next in fourth place when McKeehen took him out. Hardcastle banked $271K and missed a chance at a second WPT title. The rich got richer and McKeehen padded his stack to 23.8M with three to go.
Three-handed lasted 58 hands before Roland Rokita busted in third place when his pocket fives lost a flip against McKeehen's Jack-eight. Rokita banked $383K for third place. With his elimination, the heads-up battle was set.
With two to go, McKeehen held almost a 2-1 lead over Qing Liu. But it didn't take long before Qing Liu snagged the lead. Heads-up went somewhat fast and lasted around 22 hands before Liu emerged victorious.
Joe McKeehen banked $491,960 for a runner-up finish. Not too shabby, eh?
Qing Liu took down his first WPT title and also added $752,880 to his bankroll. One final table down, another one to go!
Notables who went deep and cashed in the WPT Venetian included... Jared Jaffee, Sergio Aido, Justin Young, Aaron Van Blarcum, Kevin Eyster, Nick Shulman, Sam Panzica, Tony Sinishtaj, ben Palmer, James Carroll, Neil Patel, Adam Hendrix, Aaron Massey, Stephen Brown, Jeff Hong, Matt Bond, Steven Sarmiento, Ralph Yong, Dustin Dirksen, Ryan Depaulo, Dave Alfa, Jose Wong, Danny Wong, Matt Stout, Mike Sowers, Brandon Hall, Upeshka De Silva, Ryan Laplante, Dan Jones, Scott Stewart, Alex Keating, Amnon Filippi, David Jackson, Joe Cheong, Joey Weissman, Brock Wilson, Ali Imsirovic, David Liu, Dan Colopys, Jake Schwartz, Jared Griener, Sean Yu, Lily Kiletto, Rachel Dardon, Vuong Duo, Rachel Dardon, Jacob Haller and Dapo Ajayi.