Despite having nearly $1.5 million in live tournament cashes, Simon Lam had yet to take down a major title.
That all changed Thursday night at Gardens Casino in Los Angeles as Lam took down WPT Gardens $5,000 Main Event for a $565,055 first-place prize. The New Yorker had come up just shy a number of times in big Borgata events but this time closed the deal despite a three-handed battle against high roller crusher Jake Schindler and the infamous Men “The Master” Nguyen.
Official Final Table Results
*Includes $15,000 Tournament of Champions seat. Does not include 2018 Mercedes valued at over $50,000
The event, a new one on the schedule this year, drew a healthy 584 runners. Some of those who cashed among the 73 paid places included Jon Turner, Ari Engel, David “The Dragon” Pham, Benny Glaser, Alex Lynskey and Marvin Rettenmaier.
The story in the lead-up to the final table was the antics of Men the Master, as he flaunted rules and swigged beers en route to making the last day of the tournament with a solid stack in third place behind Lam and Schindler.
Final Table Action
Stacks were on the deeper side and stayed relatively consistent for the first few hours of final-table play as Lam stretched his lead a bit, taking control of about 40 percent of the chips six-handed according to the live updates.
Finally, 75 hands in, Jared Griener went out in sixth. Having previously lost a flip to Craig Varnell that would have eliminated the latter if ace-king had gotten there, Griener got in with his own pair of jacks against Varnell’s ace-king for about 15 big blinds. Unlike Griener, Varnell found not just one ace but a second one to ice the cake on the river and bust Griener.
A little after that, Saya Ono was in shove or fold mode with under 10 big blinds and found the . She jammed and ran into the of Nguyen, who turned her dead with clubs and made a queen on the river meaningless.
Schindler then found a double through Lam when top pair held against a flush draw and overcard, moving Varnell into the lead for the first time at the final table. Lam then had a chance to retake command when he found the ace-king in the big blind against a small-blind shove by Nguyen, but a queen-high board sent the pot to The Master’s ace-queen and denied Lam a chance to take half of the chips in play.
Nguyen then flopped a set of deuces and got three streets from Varnell. The former WPT500 champ found himself with just 13 big blinds and crammed from the small blind with . Schindler looked him up with in the big blind and flopped a ten to send the 2018 bracelet winner and LFG Podcast guest packing.
Nguyen held the lead going three-handed but it was anyone’s game as everyone had between 34 and 47 big blinds. It took 40 hands of small maneuvering before anything major happened, but finally, Lam caught Nguyen shoving over his button open for 30 big blinds. Lam’s found a king on the flop and dodged a gutterball to get heads up against Schindler with about a 4-1 lead.
In the process, Nguyen was denied the first WPT crown in a career that’s spanned nearly $11 million in cashes and a slew of other titles.
Schindler made no real headway in the match and found himself pipped when he got his jack-eight in against jack-nine on a flop. The kicker would play after the turn and river brought inconsequential low cards, so Schindler also missed out on a chance at his own first WPT title in his $19 million career.
Photo courtesy of WPT