It is about that time of the year when registration opens and live satellites begin for this year’s World Series of Poker tournaments, but before we get to the next biggest poker event, we needed to see the World Poker Tour through to the end. And so it ended on Sunday with renowned poker player, Matthew Waxman won the World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions. Darren Elias had shown a great deal of promise but even though he ultimately only managed to come in third, he did put on a great show that was defined by superb gameplay.
The World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions kicked off in 2016 as an invitation-only tournament, something that set significantly it apart from the former World Poker Tour Championship that was considered by many to be the more open and even more prestigious event. The only players who are allowed to play are poker pros who have won a World Poker Tour Main Event title – the season’s current winners get a free seat at the tournament tables while the winners of the previous tournaments have to part with a $15,000 buy-in to play.
Matthew Waxman qualified for the World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions by winning the WPT Grand Prix de Paris Main Event in 2011. Since then, the poker pro has had a several years’ worth of cashes that included the World Series of Poker bracelet, a number of final tables as well as a couple of six-figure rake ins. Interestingly though, Waxman nearly opted not to register for this particular tournament citing a bit of self-doubt.
“I was thinking about not playing because it’s a big buy-in and I wasn’t too confident in my game, but I jumped in there after feeling pretty good lately. It’s just a great tournament. You’re playing with a lot of these big faces that you’re used to seeing on TV and you’re just playing these big pots. Although there were only 80 players, the atmosphere – you can just feel the tension. It’s a real treat to play, and to be able to win this thing is amazing,” he said.
The Tournament of Champions marked the end of the 16th season of the poker series and features a prize pool of a whopping $1,365,000 that was split among the top 10 poker players with the minimum player payout being $39,840. What made the tournament an even bigger deal was the fact that it involved 80 WPT Main Tour Main Event champions going toe-to-toe with each other for a shot at the first position that played out in 3 days (May 24-26) and was watched by millions of poker fans from all around the globe.