Craig Varnell Wins WPT500 at ARIA, $330,000

A few days after making a WSOP final table, Craig Varnell cruised to victory at the WPT500 at the Aria, earning a reported $330,000.

A few days after making a WSOP final table, Craig Varnell cruised to victory at the WPT500 at the Aria, earning a reported $330,000. (Photo credit Joe Giron for World Poker Tour)

In the last few weeks of the summer, players are scrambling to save their summers with a big result and head out of Las Vegas as a big winner. After a couple of decent cashes in June, Craig Varnell peaked at just the right time by winning the second annual WPT500 at ARIA for $330,000.

Varnell beat Lucio Antunes heads-up to seal the victory, his second major result in three days. He was fresh off finishing third in the first ever WSOP.com online bracelet event Saturday, and Varnell made the most of bouncing back and forth between various venues and mediums to push his earnings for the summer to over $600,000; Varnell made Day 2 early in June by bagging one of the top stacks on Day 1C, and he made the most of his opportunity more than a month later.

The World Poker Tour’s return to the Aria in Las Vegas for the second running of the partypoker WPT500 was a successful one, as the $565 buy-in event beat its projected $2,000,000 prize pool over 10 starting flights. When the final numbers were tallied, a field of 5,113 entries generated a prize pool of $2,556,500 paid out to the 253 players advancing past Day 1.

The final day of the tournament started with 18 players in contention for the WPT500 title. The elimination of 2014 WPT Championship winner Keven Stammen in tenth place brought the field down to the final nine players:

Seat 1: Brent Berger – 2,325,000
Seat 2: Milan Harper – 5,500,000
Seat 3: Lucio Antunes – 8,850,000
Seat 4: Nick Binger – 4,225,000
Seat 5: Craig Varnell – 18,375,000
Seat 6: Chad Roudebush – 8,900,000
Seat 7: Brett Mueller – 6,450,000
Seat 8: Hunter Cichy – 13,150,000
Seat 9: Alexander Lakhov – 9,075,000

The first elimination at the final table happened on hand 27 as Hunter Cichy opened and Milan Harper moved all in with A Q and Cichy called with 44. Cichy’s hand held up as Harper exited in ninth place. A few hands later Brent Berger gathered his belongings and left the final table as his pocket nines ran into the pocket aces of Alexander Lakhov. The two-outer didn’t arrive as the field was reduced to seven.

The eliminations continued as the A K of Brett Mueller ran into the pocket nines of Chad Roudebush, flopping a third nine and making a full house on the river to leave six in contention for the title. Hunter Cichy finished second in the WSOP.com bracelet event but he couldn’t improve on that result as he finished in sixth as his pocket sevens ran into the pocket jacks of Lucio Antunes.

The final five players played twenty hands before deciding to take an extended break to negotiate a deal. The quintet agreed on splitting up the prize pool via an undisclosed method, setting aside the balance to the winner. The pace of the final table quickened with most of the prize pool determined. Chad Roudebush finished fifth when he shoved with A 8 against the A Q of Lucio Antunes. Roudebush didn’t catch up as four remained. The last time Nick Binger cashed in a poker tournament was back in 2013. He made up for lost time when he finished fourth when Craig Varnell called with A Q against Binger’s K Q.

Previous WPT winner Alexander Lakhov fell in third when he shoved with A 5 and Varnell called with K 9. Varnell moved from way behind to way ahead on the K K J flop. Lakhov didn’t improve, leaving Craig Varnell and Lucio Antunes battling for the trophy.

Heads-up play between Varnell and Antunes came to an end within fifteen hands as Antunes shoved with A 5 and Varnell called with K 6. The flop came down K K Q as Varnell once again came from behind. The 4 turn and J river clinched a second huge result for Craig Varnell in less than a week, after he finished third in the WSOP.com bracelet event Saturday.

The next stop on the World Poker Tour brings them to the Choctaw Resort in Durant, Oklahoma for the first time. The Main Event features a $3,700 buy-in and a $2,000,000 guaranteed prize pool.

WPT500 Final Table Results:

  1. Craig Varnell – $330,000*
  2. Lucio Antunes – $223,000*
  3. Alexander Lakhov – $150,700*
  4. Nick Binger – $100,000*
  5. Chad Roudebush $75,000*
  6. Hunter Cichy – $60,000
  7. Brett Mueller – $50,000
  8. Brent Berger – $41,000
  9. Milan Harper – $33,000

*Reflects deal made five-handed

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Kevin Mathers

Widely known by his twitter handle "Kevmath", many consider Kevin a go-to source for news and information in the poker community. Kevin finished on the bubble in the 2014 edition of the BLUFF Power 20.
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