Following a ten-month long hiatus caused by the Covid-19, the live World Poker Tour Main Tour action returned to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida for the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open (LHPO) that ran 26 events across its 13-day schedule. The biggest highlight of the series, the $1 Million GTD $3,500 Championship Event, saw Ilyas Muradi navigating his way to the top of a 1,573-strong field that became the third-largest field in the WPT’s eighteen-year-old history and created a mind-boggling prize pool of $5,033,600, more than five times of the listed guarantee.
Muradi is the first player to win a live WPT title since the COVID-19 outbreak that began in 2020. He reportedly missed a flight out of town and decided to compete in a $400 buy-in satellite into the $3,500 buy-in WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event. He won a seat into the event and managed to outlast the massive field to win his first WPT title and a top prize worth $605,000 (3-way deal). In addition to the top prize, he also received a ticket to the 2021 WPT Tournament of Champions (TOC).
“This is amazing, it’s making me want to cry,” Muradi told WPT reporters after coming out on top. “Anyone’s dream can come true.”
This tournament had a $1,000,000 guarantee which was absolutely blown away with 1,573 entries coming across two starting flights. Top 197 finishers made the money in this event, with a min-cash being $6,150. There were plenty of notable names who made a deep run in the event but fell short of the final table, including four-time WPT main event champion Darren Elias (10th place for $79,455) and Andy Hwang (7th for $115,630) who was the first to fall on the final day of action in this event.
Hwang’s A-K failed to beat pocket sevens of Francis Margaglione. Hwang earned $115,630 for his 7th place finish. Tsz Shing was the next to hit the rail after he ran K-Q into the pocket queens of WSOP bracelet winner Ronnie Bardah. He took home $168,990 for his 6th place finish in the tourney.
Bardah scored his second knockout of the day after his pocket kings bested pocket tens of Jesse Lonis. The superior pair remained the best hand through the river and Lonis exited in 5th place for $223,895. Exiting in 4th place was Francis Margaglione who spent much of the day as one of the big stacks. He got all-in with Qc 9s and got a caller in Bardah who held Ad Kc. Bardah made a pair of aces on the flop and held from there to bust Margaglione with $293,510 for his 4th place finish.
Down to the three-handed play, all the remaining three players struck a deal. Bardah was the first of the three to exit. His run came to an end when he got his last 13 big blinds into the middle with As 2s. Robel Andemichael made the call with Ac 9d. The board ran out Kd 4c 2h 10s 9s and Bardah was eliminated in third place for $566,135*, which happens to be his career’s largest tournament cash.
The heads-up began with Andemichael having a slight advantage over Muradi. However, the latter was able to extend his lead and eventually ship it. On the final hand, Andemichael moved all-in with Ad 6d and Muradi called with 4h 4d. The board ran 10c 9c 8s 3c Qs where Murad’s pocket pair held, winning him the title. Andemichael eventually settled for a runner-up finish worth $545,500*.
Final Table Payouts
1. Ilyas Muradi – $605,000* + WPT Tournament of Champions seat
2. Robel Andemichael – $545,000*
3. Ronnie Bardah – $566,135*
4. Francis Margaglione – $293,510
5. Jesse Lonis – $223,895
6. Tsz Shing – $168,990