The tournament was played in parallel to a rather racy debate on social networks. Jared Jaffe and Matt Savage became embroiled over an FT bubble decision.
Qing Liu poses with her first title. WPT
Qing Liu I knew for a few days that this week I was going to be playing a final table of the World Poker TourMaybe winning it, why not, but he thought it would be the one at WPT Gardens postponed in January last year and held hostage by the pandemic for a whole year.
He has ended up celebrating a title, yes, but that of another tournament, the WPT Venetian. A measured celebration, because less than 24 hours separate him from the second final table, the one he has been waiting for since 2020.
While the six finalists were in the casino, fighting for a $ 752,880 prize, WPT tournament director Matt Savage and Venetian Tommy LaRosa were fighting a parallel showdown on social media, on account of the tournament structure.
Before the expansion of COVID, the WPT made extensive use of the ten-player tables to gain seats in tournaments with large fields and, especially, to avoid short table play in final table bubbles. Each eliminated accelerates the rate of blind posting of the remaining players and has a direct effect on the variance that the hopefuls have to endure. Since there are 16 players left in the tournament, it is inevitable that the tables will be left with less and less occupants. The minimum number previously accepted by the WPT was five, and as soon as the 11th classified was eliminated, a final table of 10 was made..
With the sanitary measures required to organize a tournament in the midst of a pandemic, tables of 10 are not an option. The separation between the players and the installation of isolating screens limit the number of players that can fit at a table to eight, and it is inevitable that in the final table bubble a table of four players will be generated.
The controversy arose because in the structure proposed by the WPT for its post-COVID tournaments, the final table redraw does not occur when there are eight players left, but when there are seven left. Players are forced to continue playing at two tables of four when the ninth-ranked player is eliminated, despite being totally feasible to reunify the field.
Jared Jaffee aired on Twitter the discontent that the players showed at such a measure, and had very harsh words against both sides of the organization, the Venetian and the WPT. When it was tried to agree with the direction of the tournament on a change on the fly, neither of the two top managers, neither the WPT tournament director nor the top person in charge of the poker room were present at the tournament. His subordinates referred to higher orders to close the discussion, with the ensuing general disgust.
Matt Savage snapped at Jaffee, hinting that the protests were due to Jared’s precarious situation at the tournament, which angered the pro-American immensely. Sergio Aido, who ended up being the 7th classified, made a point in the discussion to confirm that Jaffee was not lying, that the eight players present at the time of the discussion with the management wanted to go to a single table and that the subject began to ruminate when Jared was the third classified of a group of 10 players.
That’s true. I was playing too and everybody at my table was advocating to go 8handed
– Sergio Aido (@petgaming) March 10, 2021
Neither Jaffee nor Sergio had a say in the final table of six. There the boss was former WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen, which had every possible advantage over its rivals. The experience, the chips, everything made him the big favorite of the game, and there was no doubt about that until Qing Liu snatched the lead from him for the first time heads-up.
- Joe McKeehen 10,850,000 (87 bb).
- Roland Rokita 8,450,000 (68 bb).
- Trace Henderson 5,925,000 (47 bb).
- Qing Liu 5,725,000 (46 bb).
- Kou Vang 3,550,000 (28 bb).
- Jack Hardcastle 3,025,000 (24 bb).
Both McKeehen and Rokita earned points in the first few orbits of the game. The biggest loser was Trace henderson, who won 1.5M points before being eliminated by Qing Liu, who paid him 10bb of push in a blind war. Henderson had a hand, two nines, but any broadway flips against her, and Liu had QT.
The positions remained more or less fixed, especially at the top of the table, until McKeehen began to break the game at hand 79. The leader paid a 20bb re-theft to Vang and he won the flip, and shortly after sealed the fate of Jack Hardcastle in a hand very similar to that of the first elimination of the FT, in a blind war against the shortstack.
A timely fold from Rokita put the table of three uncertain. McKeehen managed to maintain his lead margin on consecutive winning streaks, but when a pot formed that threatened to give way to heads-up, the middle stacks had their way. McKeehen was patient and let one of his rivals wear out enough to open up the call range without risk to his lead. The one who fell was Rokita.
Liu marked HU’s effective stack at 43bb, to McKeehen’s 82bb, but the future champion was able to turn the tables on five hands. Three of them ended up with McKeehen’s folds on the river after betting on multiple streets. The fall of the favorite did not stop until he reached the push or fold zone, and there Liu knew how to maintain the pressure until the first all-in and call was made. Liu was dominated, with against But he hit his kicker on the flop and there was no prolongation of McKeehen’s agony.
- Qing Liu $ 752,880
- Joe McKeehen $ 491,960
- Roland Rokita $ 363,235
- Jack Hardcastle $ 271,050
- Kou Vang $ 204,430
- Trace Henderson $ 155,865
Liu starts from fifth place in the final of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship, another table in which all factors are combined with the figure of Chance Kornuth to create a clear favorite for the title.