Matt Waxman Claims 2018 WPT Tournament of Champions TitleMay 28, 2018 9:20 am
The WPT Tournament of Champions (TOC) is an invitational only tournament consisting of past WPT champions, who can enter the competition for $15k if they wish, or this season’s winners, who automatically receive a free seat, airfare and hotel accommodations through to the end of season finale.
The World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions subsequently kicked-off at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on May 24th, with 80 entries helping to create a prize pool worth $1,365,000. Three days later, and it was Matt Waxman who managed to navigate himself past the field, including Matas Cimbolas heads-up, to claim a top prize of $463,375.
$4 Million in Winnings
Waxman cashed in at his first live tournament in 2008, with his latest victory now pushing his career earnings past the $4 million mark. The pro’s largest cash is still the €500,000 ($721,178) he won back in 2011 after taking down the WPT Rendez-Vous à Paris, though, which enabled him to enter this year’s TOC, and commenting about his impressive performance in Nevada, the Florida pro stated:
“I had a lot of fun playing with these guys and I was thinking about not even playing, just because it’s a big buy-in and I wasn’t too confident with my game, but I just jumped in there, and I’ve been feeling pretty good lately.. To be able to win this thing is amazing.”
WPT Tournament of Champions
Just 10 money places were available at this year’s season-ending Tournament of Champions, and amongst the players booking a cash was Justin Young in 10th ($39,840), Nam Le in 9th ($39,840), and Sam Panzica in 8th ($45,175).
At the end of Day 2, Waxman scored a double elimination over Ryan Riess in 7th ($53,985), and J.C. Tran in 6th ($67,800) to lead the remaining field going into Day 3. Instead of returning to the Aria, however, Matt Waxman, Nick Schulman, David Benyamine, Darren Elias and Matas Cimbolas switched the action to the Esports Arena Las Vegas at the Luxor. Commenting on the venue which only opened its doors for business in March, Waxman said:
“.. I’m just huge on video games, so being into such a center that has big video competitions and I get to play poker here? That was awesome.”
Final Table Action
Elias (7-7) then took care of Nick Schulman (4-4) in 5th, before being dealt pocket fives and getting lucky against the pocket sevens of David Benyamine to see the Frenchman off in 4th. Elias (Q-Q) then almost eliminated Waxman (J-J) in 3rd after the latter called the former’s all-in, but fortunately for Waxman he made a jack-high straight to jump into the chip lead.
“.. it was nice. It was just a spot where the money’s going in and I’m glad that it worked out for me,” said Waxman.
Soon after, Cimbolas (A-K) sent Elias (10-8) to the rail in 3rd, after which the heads-up phase started with Waxman holding a 2-1 lead over his remaining opponent. On the last hand, Cimbolas tried an all-in bluff holding 10-3 on a K-2-Q-4-8 board, but after Waxman made the call with Q-7, Cimbolas exited the competition in a runner-up position worth $265,590.
Waxman, on the other hand, claimed the first-place prize, a WTP Tournament of Champions trophy, and a $15,000 seat for next season’s WPT Tournament of Champions. He also received a Hublot watch, and a JetSmarter membership worth $50,000.
Waxman has recently taken quite a bit of time off playing poker in order to travel around Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. He’s also been helping to develop a poker app and even had time to earn a certification in yoga, which all made him feel a bit worried entering a stacked field at this year’s TOC. All’s well that ends well, though, and as Waxman explained later:
“I definitely feel like throughout my travels I learned a lot of things that helped keep me balanced and composed throughout the tournament and I’m very thankful to have acquired that.”
Final Table Results
1: Matt Waxman $463,375
2: Matas Cimbolas $265,590
3: Darren Elias $177,060
4: David Benyamine $123,045
5: Nick Schulman $89,290
6: J.C. Tran $67,800
7: Ryan Riess $53,985
8: Sam Panzica $45,175
9: Nam Le $39,840
10: Justin Young $39,840