Jesse Sylvia, the perennial runner-up of the poker world, has finally won his first major title by winning the WPT Borgata Poker Open.
The American pro, who finished runner-up at the 2012 WSOP Main Event, took down a first prize worth $821,811.
And while the payout was a fraction of what he earned in 2012’s showpiece, this first big trophy will be well-received.
The WPT Borgata Poker Open has been known for its large fields in recent years, and 2016 was no different. 1,179 runners entered the $3,500 No Limit Hold’em event, all vying for a slice of the cash, their name on the WPT Champions Cup, and entry into the season-end WPT Tournament of Champions.
Oh, and a set of gold-played headphones probably wouldn’t go amiss, either.
Sylvia had made almost $6 million in live earnings prior to the Borgata. And taking it over the $6 million mark for the first time looked remote as he started the final table 6th out of 6th in chips. However, a massive treble-up through Farid Jattin and Simon Lam set him well on his way back.
Tilting from losing a big pot against Zach Gruneberg, Jattin would find himself shoving the rest of his chips in the middle holding 5-4. Jesse Sylvia made the call with A-K and duly flopped an ace. It was enough to complete his see-saw opening final and he took the chip lead.
Jattin would lose the remainder of his crumbs in the next few hands by running into aces, and he was out in sixth. Chris Limo followed soon after, Sylvia again making more ground by finding a set of sevens. Gruneberg managed to dispense with both Simon Lam and Taha Maruf to set up an even-matched heads-up phase against Sylvia.
With stacks fairly even, the heads-up contest was understandably tight. But a flush came at the right time for the West Tisbury man, and he could see that elusive major title honing into view.
Finally finding himself all-in with A-2 against Sylvia’s J-4, Gruneberg thought he had a way back in. However, a jack on the flop was good enough to finish his tournament off and give the former 888 poker pro the title his talent deserves.
It was a remarkable result for a player who has come close so many times before. After winning $5,295,149 at the 2012 WSOP, Sylvia went on to finish runner-up at the 2014 WSOP APAC (Asia Pacific) $25,000 NLHE High Roller.
Another third-place finish followed a year late as he bust in the WSOP $3,000 No Limit Hold’em event. On both occasions, Sylvia was up against tough competition (Mike Leah in Australia and Thiago Nishijima and Sam Rasavi in Vegas) but the exits were frustrating nonetheless.
The spell is truly broken. What are the odds more big tournament scores are coming in the near future?
Season XV World Poker Tour
Borgata Poker Open
Final Table Payouts:
1st Jesse Sylvia $821,811*
2nd Zach Gruneberg $490,617
3rd Taha Maruf $300,031
4th Simon Lam $250,970
5th Chris Limo $207,569
6th Farid Jattin $167,942
*Jesse’s prize also includes gold headphones, Hublot watch, and entry worth $15,000 into Season XV WPT Tournament of Champions.