In between stops in Hollywood, Florida and a three-event swing through sunny California, the World Poker Tour took an icy detour for its annual stop at Niagara Falls. For Anthony Zinno, a trip into a cold snap that took temperatures south of 0 degrees proved well worth it.
Zinno hoisted the WPT Champions Cup for the second time Monday, after winning the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic. Not only did he take home the $314,629 first place prize, a seat to the season-ending World Championship (at the Borgata, where he won his first title in 2013) and everything else that comes with a WPT title, but Zinno also took over the WPT POY lead from Darren Elias.
The lead passed to Zinno after two players fell in the first two hands at the final table. With five cashes already in Season XIII – 65th in the WPT Borgata Poker Open, 12th at WPT Caribbean, 27th in the WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble, 23rd in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic and 23rd again in the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open – Zinno’s first place finish gives him some breathing room in front of Elias, who won back-to-back titles earlier in Season XIII and also finished 11th at Fallsview.
While Zinno did have the chiplead coming into the Fallsview Poker Classic final table, it was far from cakewalk to the title – although it did seem that way in the day’s first two hands.
Erik Cajelais entered as the shortest stack and wasted little time getting all of his chips into the middle. Corey Hochman opened for a minraise to 100,000 and Cajelais shoved for 615,000 from the big blind. Hochman called with A 8 and had Cajelais in trouble with his A 2; both players flopped a pair but Hochman never trailed as it ran out 8 7 2 6 5, sending Cloutier out in sixth.
Jeremy Halaska tangled with Zinno on the second hand of the day, and it ended just about as well for him as it did for Cajelais. Zinno opened the action with a raise to 125,000 from under the gun and Halaska called on the button. Both players checked a T T 9 flop, but Zinno led out for 80,000 on the K turn. Halaska raised to 175,000, Zinno three-bet all in and Halaska tank-called with A K.
Zinno had T 8 for flopped trip 10’s, and the 7 river was not one of Halaska’s two outs to survive. After two hands at the final table the field was cut from six to four, and Zinno held 5.9 million to his opponents’ combined 12.6 million.
While Mark Bailey treaded water and kept himself in contention, David Cloutier started slipping behind. This was just Cloutier’s third career tournament cash, but it was also his second career WPT final table at Fallsview. His run came to an end on just the 29th hand of the final table, when he three-bet all in with Q 5 and ran into Hochman’s 8 8. The 8 hit on the flop and Cloutier never really had a chance to catch up, causing him to fall in fourth place.
Hochman and Bailey fought back hard, and Hochman soon snatched the lead away from Zinno. At one point Hochman had over 56 percent of the chips in play three-handed, but within 10 hands of his peak he’d find himself on the rail in third place.
His first slip saw him try to bluff Bailey on both the turn and the river of an A 5 3 3 2 board, only for Bailey to snap-call and show 5 5 for a full house. All three players were as bunched up as they would get, but a few hands later Hochman met another big bump in the road that would ultimately derail his title hopes. Hochman three-bet and then five-bet shoved in a confrontation with Zinno, only for Zinno to call with K K. That dwarfed Hochman’s A 5 and the board offered little assistance, giving Zinno the lead back in a big way.
Hochman tumble concluded on the very next hand, when he open-shoved his last 16.5 big blinds with K T and Zinno called with A Q. It ran out A K 2 8 J, and Hochman was out in third.
Zinno and Bailey would go on to play 75 hands heads-up, compared to 70 leading up to that point. The lead was nearly 3-to-1 to start for Zinno, and while Bailey put up a strong fight that lead grew to over 6.5-to-1 as they crossed the table’s 100-hand mark. Bailey earned the first double of their heads-up battle as his A A held off Zinno’s K Q despite a K on the flop, and they played on.
Bailey continued to chip away, and within 20 more hands a river shove drew him to within a 6.5 million to 6.1 million deficit. Despite falling back several times, Bailey had drawn nearly even once again by the time Hand 145 rolled around.
On that fateful hand, Zinno limped the button for 250,000, Bailey raised to 750,000 and Zinno called. The flop came down 8 4 2, Bailey open-shoved for 5,175,000 and Zinno snap-called with K K. Despite holding that overpair, Zinno was far from comfortable with almost all of the chips in play in this pot and Bailey holding A J for the nut flush draw.
The 4 turn paired the board, leaving Bailey in need of an ace or a club on the river. The 7 was all Zinno, however, and with that card he locked up his second spot on the WPT Champions Cup.
That wraps up the WPT’s trip to Niagara Falls, with an 11 day break in the schedule coming up before the LA Poker Classic kicks off the tour’s three-stop California Swing.
2015 WPT Fallsview Poker Classic – Final Results
- Anthony Zinno – $314,629
- Mark Bailey – $209,759
- Corey Hochman – $134,877
- David Cloutier – $99,743
- Jeremy Halaska – $74,882
- Erik Cajelais – $59,995
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