Last year the World Poker Tour (WPT) introduced its prestigious Tournament of Champions (TOC), inviting only those players with their name etched on the WPT Champions Cup to attend.
And while that inaugural event crowned a true Cinderella as the champion of champions, this year’s edition was claimed by a consummate professional.
Atlanta-based poker pro Daniel Weinman overcame a field stacked with 65 poker superstars to earn $381,500, along with an array of additional prizes awarded by WPT sponsors. To finish the feat off, Weinman was forced to withstand a feverish comeback by Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi during the pair’s heads-up duel.
According to the WPT Live Updates coverage, after entering the final table 1-2 in the pecking order, Weinman and Mizarchi began heads-up play sitting on 2,745,000 and 555,000 chips, respectively. The blinds were set at 15,000/30,000 with a 5,000-chip ante, making it 92 big blinds for Weinman and just 19 for Mizrachi.
At just under 5:1, the stack advantage appeared to give Weinman a shot at ending the match in short order. But following his third-place finish at the first TOC, “The Grinder” was seeking redemption, and he gave himself every opportunity to climb back into contention.
On just the fifth heads-up hand, Mizrachi doubled through when his K-J offsuit spiked a king on the river to best Weinman’s A-6 offsuit, following the latter’s open-shove before the flop. That pot made it 2,020,000 to 1,280,000 in favor of Weinman, and Mizrachi began closing the gap even further with a series of small wins.
On the 14th hand of heads-up play, however, Weinman used a big river bluff to regain his traction in the match. With the board reading 10h-6c-3h-6h-8c, Weinman checked – slowing down after a lead-out on the turn. Mizrachi overbet the 260,000-chip pot with a wager of 400,000, prompting a shove by Weinman for effectively 1,050,000 on top.
To speed the game up, the TOC employed tournament director Matt Savage’s “Action Clock,” giving players 30 seconds to act on their hands, along with a few 30-second extensions via Time Chips.
Mizrachi was out of Time Chips and couldn’t tank it out, eventually folding what he said was a flush as the 5h accidentally flipped face up.
Weinman turned his 8h-9s, for just a middling two pair made on the river, face up for the world to see. And as Weinman later recounted to PokerNews, with that pivotal pot won, he had his swagger back for good:
“I really felt in control until he doubled, and then he won the next few pots.
There’s a chance that he could have said call, and it would have been over.”
Mizrachi couldn’t pull the trigger on a call though, and just four hands later Weinman won a flip with A-8 over 5-5 to win it.
He described the experience to PokerNews, mentioning the huge WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open victory in January that stamped his ticket to the TOC:
“I feel incredible. This is such a tough tournament; to come out on top is super special.”
To have a $900,000 score in February and then follow it up with this, it’s incredible.”
With titles from the European Poker Tour (EPT), WSOP-Circuit, Aussie Millions, and of course, the WPT, already on his resume, Weinman has been grinding the global tournament circuit since 2010. He now has just over $2.68 million in reported live tournament earnings, with what are by far his two largest scores occurring on the WPT in less than three months.
In addition to his seven-figure cash prize, Weinman was also awarded a bevy of sponsorship prizes, including a 2018 Audi S5 Coupe, gold wireless headphones from Monster, a luxury Hublot watch, and even a seat in the Tiger Woods’ Poker Night event.
Full final table results, including placement and payout, can be found below:
2017 WPT Tournament of Champions Final Table