Darren Elias Etches Name in WPT History Books
As the attention of the poker world is focused squarely on the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas over the next two days as we wait to see who will make history as the next champion of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, Darren Elias decided to steal a little thunder and make some history of his own on Friday. In winning the World Poker Tour (WPT) Caribbean Main Event, Elias became the first player ever to win back-to-back main events in the same WPT season.
Despite his recent success in winning the WPT Borgata Poker Open in September and being present at the WPT Caribbean six-handed final table, Elias was a longshot to win, as Christophe Rosso enjoyed an overwhelming chip lead. With 1.932 million chips, Rosso had more chips than everyone else at the final table combined. Elias was in second place, but his 495,000 chips were only about a quarter of Rosso’s holdings. It would require quite the uphill climb for Elias to take the title.
Elias all but sat out the proceedings early on, as four players were eliminated in just 37 hands. Naturally, it came down to him and Rosso and Elias’ stack was nearly unchanged from the beginning of the final table. Now behind 2.922 million to just 619,000, it looked like Rosso would have the tournament wrapped up quickly.
But Elias had other plans. He was content to take it slow, waiting for his spots, not panicking and trying to make everything up in a desperation play. By Hand 83 of the final table, Elias had grown his stack by about half and then doubled up to nearly pull into a tie: 1.8 million to 1.7 million. From there, it was a back-and-forth match with both players taking over the lead on more than one occasion.
It was on Hand 134, though, that the tide turned permanently for Darren Elias. With the board reading J-7-5-T on the turn, Elias decided to commit all of his chips, calling an all-in by Rosso. Elias was well-served in doing so, revealed 9-8 for a straight, while Rosso had J-8 for top pair. Another Ten on the river gave Rosso two pair, but it was not enough (obviously) to beat the straight and Elias had doubled-up to 3.2 million, nearly ten times Rosso’s 350,000 chips.
Rosso was able to double-up a couple of times himself, but it was not long before Elias finished the match. On the final hand, Rosso limped pre-flop, Elias raised, and the Rosso re-raised all-in with just 7-6. Elias made the easy call with pocket Aces. The flop was T-6-5, giving Rosso a pair and some hope. When a 7 was dealt on the turn, it seemed like a miracle; Rosso had made two pair and took the lead with one card to go. That card, though, was another 5, giving Elias a better two pair, all the chips, and the WPT Caribbean crown.
Here is a look at the final table standings:
1: Darren Elias – $127,680
2: Christophe Rosso – $64,900
3: George Griffith – $42,100
4: Mike Linster – $28,950
5: Ziga Jamnikar – $22,280
6: Dan Murariu – $17,370
Normally, a small tournament like the WPT Caribbean Main Event (there were only 118 entrants) would not garner that much attention, even though it is still a WPT event. But because Darren Elias had just won the WPT Borgata Poker Open, he became the first player to win consecutive WPT titles in a single season.
In 2012, Marvin Rettenmaier accomplished a similar feat, becoming the first player in history to win back-to-back WPT titles, but those crossed seasons; he won the Season X WPT World Championship and the the opening event of Season XI, the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic.
Elias is also the first player to win more than one Main Event in a WPT season since Season III, when both Tuan Le and newly-inducted Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu accomplished the feat.
Elias has now earned just over $2.7 million in his live tournament career, a career which now includes seven WPT cashes and sixteen WSOP cashes. The $843,744 he won at the WPT Borgata Poker Open was the biggest cash he has ever had, easily beating his previous best of $230,610, earned at that same tournament in 2011, when he placed fifth. Elias now ranks 53rd on the Global Poker Index. He is also a very strong online tournament player with nearly $3.5 million recorded lifetime earnings, according to PocketFives.com.
*WPT Caribbean tournament info courtesy WPT.com.