The WPT Seminole Main Event came to a conclusion as Mark Davis captured the million-dollar top prize at the expense of the most successful player in WPT history, Darren Elias. With six weeks between the penultimate day of the event and the six-handed final table, the event acted as a perfect pre-cursor to the start of the 52nd World Series of Poker which is due to begin on Tuesday.

Barfield Battles Up the Ladder

With just six players remaining from the mammoth field of 2,010 players, the $3,50-entry event concluded at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas at Luxor, rather than back in Florida where the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown had run all the way to the final table, which Darren Elias led when it was reached.

The first player to depart was not the man with the shortest stack when play began. That dubious honor belonged to Andrew Barfield, but it was another of the five Americans at the final table who was eliminated first. Michael Laufer was out in the sixth hand of play after losing a flip for his tournament life. Laufer was all-in with pocket threes, but they couldn’t hold against the ace-nine of Mark Davis and Laufer hit the rail for $215,000.

Next to go was Barfield, who had managed to ladder to fifth and a payday of $280,000. Barfield committed his stack with pocket sevens after almost three dozen hands and couldn’t hold as David was once again the caller, this time with king-queen. The board didn’t have a card lower than a ten as it came A-K-J-A-T to give Davis a Broadway straight and another scalp.

Brazilian Busts, Misses All-American Heads-Up

Half a dozen hands later, the field was down to the podium places with little over an hour has elapsed. Viet Vo moved all-in on the flop of A-J-7 and was called by Darren Elias. Elias turned over ace-four of diamonds, but Vo was in good shape with ace-eight, with only one diamond on the board. Unfortunately for Vo, a diamond came on turn and river to give the four-time WPT Champion Elias a flush and see him take the chip lead overall. Vo cashed for $370,000, the third-biggest score of his tournament career.

Elias, who won his record four WPT titles between 2014 at the WPT Borgata Poker Open and 2018 when he captured the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic, was looking in a great position, holding 54 million chips to Davis’ 37.6 million and Marcos Exterkotter’s paltry pile of 8.75 million.

Everything was to change heads-up but first, it was the turn of the brilliant Brazilian Exterkotter to exit the event. It was in the 53rd hand of the final table that Exterkotter move all-in with ace-four and was called by the initial raiser in the hand Elias, who tabled pocket sevens. The board of J-9-3-6-2 did nothing to help Exterkotter and he slid out of contention, busting in third for $490,000.

Elias Can’t Seal the Deal for Once

“Davis won the title of his poker life so far.”

Despite his phenomenal record of success, Darren Elias’s incredible drive means he will have woken up disappointed with the runner-up prize of $660,000 being in his possession rather than the $1,000,300 top prize and his name appearing on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup for a record-extending fifth time.

Heading into the last battle, Elias took a lead of 63.7 million against Davis’ 36.7 million and would have hoped to seal victory soon after. Already one clear of three-time WPT winners (in alphabetical order) Eric Afriat, Brian Altman, Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen, Chino Rheem, and Anthony Zinno, Elias was unable to stretch his lead.

Both men held the lead on numerous occasions, but the pivotal hand came when 100 hands after the epic to-and-fro began, Elias’ bluff – called by Davis with king-high to the board – saw the chip deficit Elias face go from 1:3 to 1:6. That proved insurmountable when Davis called with two-pair on the turn of a board showing Q-8-5-T. His eight-five was ahead of Elias’ nine-seven for an open-ended straight draw, and a seven on the river wasn’t enough to give Elias a way back into the match.

For Elias it was a disappointment and a renewed focus on WSOP matters as the man who currently sits 100th on the all-time money list looks to Vegas and capturing a bracelet he has never won. Davis won the title of his poker life so far, though, and in just over a million dollars by far his largest cash, which more than doubles his total career earnings.

WPT Seminole Main Event Final Table Results:

Place Player Country Prize
1st Mark Davis U.S.A. $1,000,300
2nd Darren Elias U.S.A. $660,000
3rd Marcos Exterkotter Brazil $490,000
4th Viet Vo U.S.A. $370,000
5th Andrew Barfield U.S.A. $280,000
6th Michael Laufer U.S.A. $215,000


Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller is a veteran casino writer with decades of experience under his belt. He's played at –and reviewed– countless of online casinos, and has written dozens of casino game guides. His strategy articles, and gambling news updates have been a fixture in the industry since 2004. A native of North Texas, Cliff is a long-suffering Dallas Cowboys fan. He enjoys sports and games of all sorts, including sports betting.

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