Daniel Weinman Wins WPT Season XV Tournament of Champions
Daniel Weinman won the World Poker Tour (WPT) Season XV Tournament of Champions Sunday, marking his place in poker history in the prestigious season-ending event. The Atlanta, Georgia native and Georgia Tech grad nabbed $381,500 for the win. He also seemingly won the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right, as in addition to the money, he received a 2018 Audi S5 Coupe, Rose Gold Wireless Over-Ear Element Headphones from Monster, a Hublot King Power Unico Carbon and Red watch, a BBO Poker Tables custom poker table, a seat in Tiger’s Poker Night Presented by World Poker Tour, and a one-week stay with Wyndham Extra Holidays.
There were only 66 players in the tournament, but that is because only people who had previously won a WPT event qualified to enter. The upside is that it makes it one hell of a competition, as every seat is filled with a formidable opponent. The downside is obvious: the field is small and the payouts are low for such a major event. This is the second year that the WPT Tournament of Champions is the season-ender. For the thirteen previous seasons, it was the WPT Championship (with most seasons having a $25,000 buy-in, changed to $15,000 for Season XII.
For comparison, the last WPT Championship had the smallest first prize in its history and even that was only just shy of a million dollars. Back in Season V, Carlos Mortensen won nearly $4 million for his WPT Championship triumph and the field was 639 players. Clearly, the culminating tournament of the World Poker Tour is not anywhere close to what it used to be, but it still carries some weight.
Daniel Weinman qualified for the WPT Tournament of Champions by winning the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City in January, the only other “major” live tournament win of his career, though he did win a WSOP Circuit event in late 2015.
Mainly a cash game player, Weinman had some very candid thoughts on his standing in poker right now when he spoke with WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage after the tournament.
“I guess I’m a tourney pro now, this is kind of weird,” Weinman said. “I’ve always said I play cash, and that’s how I came up, and I kind of viewed these tourney players as sub-poker players to me. But there are a lot of good tournament poker players, and I’m proud to consider myself one now.”
So if you CAN beat ‘em, join ‘em? Or “loldonkaments?”
Weinman now has $2.6 million in live tournament earnings and is 83rd in the Global Poker Index.
As to his emotions, Weinman said, “It feels incredible. I think I played some awesome poker today and I came out on top so I can’t really ask for anything more. It was a long three days, I was very sick the first day, I was kind of lucky to get through. But then I feel like I was able to focus on the last two days.”
I can totally relate. I was sick when I played in a tournament on a poker cruise once, but fought through it and managed to finish in third place. Highlight of my poker career.
Going into heads-up against Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, Weinman had a sizable lead, 2.745 million chips to 555,000. Mizrachi made a run, but Weinman held him off, never relinquishing the lead.
On the final hand, Mizrachi shoved pre-flop with pocket Fives and Weinman called him with A-8 offsuit. The flop of Q-J-3 was good for Mizrachi, but I think you know what’s coming. An 8 landed on the turn, giving Weinman a better pair, and the river was of no help to Mizrachi.
The $381,500 was a nice cash prize, but Weinman seemed particularly excited about winning the new Audi. “It’s going to be a nice upgrade from the dirty Kia I have sitting at home right now,” he said.
Wait…I have a Kia. The Sorento is a nice family SUV.
The WPT Tournament of Champions was the culmination of an rather odd final week of the World Poker Tour season, as the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale, WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, and WPT Tournament of Champions all ran successively at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino & Hotel. In addition to Weinman winning the TOC, Benjamin Zamani won the WPT Player of the Year race. When Pat Lyons was eliminated in 23rd place in the Finale, Zamani clinched the title mathematically.
It was Zamani’s start to the season that really did it for him, as he made three of the season’s first six final tables, with runner-up finishes at WPT Choctaw and WPT Legends of Poker and a fifth place finish at WPT Maryland Live!