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The Doctor is In

Dr. Roy Winston Wins Borgata Poker Open and More Than $1.5 Million

by Seth Niesen |  Published: Oct 24, 2007

When selecting a high-stakes casino host, The Bicycle Casino was looking for a respected player, and found him in Dr. Roy Winston. The licensed anesthesiologist and high-stakes cash-game player who had two deep runs in major tournaments, including a 26th-place finish in the 2007 World Series of Poker main event, was happy to take the job. Bike management knew they got a great player, but not even they could foresee their high-stakes host winning $1,575,280 and a World Poker Tour title.

Day One - Feels Like Home
The World Poker Tour made its return to the East Coast for the Borgta Poker Open, the first of two WPT stops at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. The Borgata has been a staple on the WPT circuit ever since season three, and has featured some of the most memorable winners in the history of the Tour, including Daniel Negreanu in 2004. Despite a large contingent of big-name players who were overseas for the World Series of Poker Europe, the event still attracted a record 560 players, creating a prize pool of $5.4 million. The structure also was notably different than most WPT events, as players began with $30,000 in chips and the levels were 75, not 90, minutes long. Professional Kenna James kicked off the event with an a-cappella version of the national anthem, which brought the field to its feet. The rest of day one was a battle of attrition; 210 players did not survive, including David "The Dragon" Pham and Bill Edler, the two top horses in the Card Player Player of the Year race.

Day Two - No Man's Land
A total of 350 players returned to the tournament room for another 12-hour day, with "the money" just a speck on the horizon. Numerous players saw their stacks fluctuate, but none as much as Danny Wong. Early in the day, Wong was down to just $2,400 and it looked certain that he was going to make an early exit. However, he was able to double through "Bodog" Ari Engel, putting himself in position to score a clutch quadrupling of his stack. An unknown player limped in from under the gun for $1,000, Lee Markholt limped, John Davidson raised to $5,000, and Wong called all in from the small blind for his last $3,900. Everyone called, and the flop brought the J 10 9. Action was checked to Davidson, who bet $10,000. Markholt and the other player called, and the turn was the 7. Again, everyone checked to Davidson, and he moved all in for $100,000. Both Markholt and the unknown player folded, sending Davidson the side pot. Attempting to win the main pot, he tabled the A 8 for a jack-high straight, but Wong had flopped the joint with his K Q. At that point, Wong was up to $17,500. He went on a great run and was able to finish the day with $98,200 chips.

Day Three - Bubble Blues
Day three began with 127 players, making it an even 100 eliminations needed to get to day four. Shannon Shorr's unlucky streak in 2007 continued when he lost a huge pot to eventual seventh-place finisher Jon Kranyak. Shorr had Kranyak all in preflop, and Kranyak's A Q was dominated by Shorr's A K. Kranyak spiked a queen on the flop and crippled Shorr, who was eliminated a short time later. Soon after Shorr's exit, the field entered the first of two lengthy bubbles. Play was tight, and in one instance a player folded the A K faceup, driving Abe Mosseri to quip, "I've been waiting forever for hands like that, and you guys put a third of your stack in with 'em and then fold to a reraise." After an hour and a half, Full Tilt pro Steve Brecher was the eventual bubble boy, and play closed at 27 players, with big-name pros Victor Ramdin, Mike Matusow, Haralabos Voulgaris, and Eugene Todd still alive in the field.

Day Four - Seventh Man Out
After three full days of play, the remaining 27 players came out firing in their bids to make the final six. Nine players were eliminated in the first level, and it looked as if the TV table would be established quickly. That wasn't the case, however, as the final seven players battled for more than seven hours and 152 hands to determine who was going home. Heung Yoon's tight short-stack play paid off, as he doubled up numerous times to stay alive, and it was the most aggressive player at the table, Kranyak, who eventually departed. After doubling up Yoon in a previous hand, Kranyak moved all in from the button with the K 9 and was called by Roy Winston with the A 4. Kranyak failed to improve and was eliminated in seventh place, which was good for $217,280.

Final Table
The fifth and final day came down to a mix of hardened pros and one admitted amateur. Pro Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, with more than $5 million in lifetime tournament earnings, was among them, as was Heung Yoon, with a self-calculated $148 in lifetime tournament winnings. Eugene Todd and high-stakes cash pro Haralabos Voulgaris also made the final table, and the chip counts were as follows:

Mike Matusow - Sixth Place
It took little time to decide the fate of sixth-place finisher Mike Matusow. On the 23rd hand of play, Roy Winston raised from under the gun to $230,000 and Matusow called from the button. The flop came A Q 4 and Winston checked. Matusow stared down Winston for 15 seconds before he bet $325,000. Winston raised to $1.2 million, and Matusow moved all in. Winston called, tabling the A 7 for a pair of aces with the nut-flush draw, while Matusow showed the A Q for top two pair. Matusow was almost a 2-1 favorite in the hand, but the turn card was the 2, and Winston hit the nut flush to take the lead. The river bricked for Matusow, and he was eliminated for a $271,600 payday.

Eugene Todd - Fifth Place
On the next hand, Eugene Todd, with two WPT final tables and more than $1.4 million in tournament earnings, was eliminated by Yoon. Todd, who was earlier crippled after running into Voulgaris' aces, said, "Since I just made some money, I'm all in," and he pushed his last $470,000 into the middle. Yoon called from the small blind with the A K. Todd showed the 3 3 and needed to win the coin flip to stay alive. Things looked good for Todd when the flop came J 9 7 and the turn was the 2. However, the river brought the K, eliminating Todd in fifth place for $325,920.

Mark Weitzman - Fourth Place
Mark Weitzman, who during his 20-year poker career has made six WSOP final tables, was the next to be eliminated. Weitzman moved all in from the big blind for his last $1,890,000 and Winston called with the A Q. Weitzman's A 8 was dominated, and the board brought no help. Weitzman was eliminated in fourth place, earning $380,240.

Haralabos Voulgaris - Third Place
After Weitzman's departure, Voulgaris was the next to go. With more than $1.2 million in career tournament earnings, a second-place finish in the 2005 WPT L.A. Poker Classic, and TV time on High Stakes Poker, he was by far the most notable player remaining at the table. On Voulgaris' final hand, he raised to $250,000 from the button and Winston reraised to $750,000. Voulgaris moved all in for around $2.2 million, and Winston immediately called. Voulgaris showed the Q 9 against Winston's A 4. The board provided no help for Voulgaris and he was sent to the rail in third place for a $434,560 cash.

Heads Up
Winston's experience and commanding chip lead made him an odds-on favorite to win the tournament. Entering heads-up play, the chip counts were as follows:

Winston was no lock, however, as Yoon had demonstrated considerable ability in playing the short stack through the TV bubble, and would not lie down. Both players used caution in picking their spots, and twice, seemingly huge hands were checked down. Ultimately, it took Winston 84 hands to make the final elimination. On the last hand, Winston limped in for $300,000 from the button, and Yoon raised to $1 million. Winston made the call and the flop came Q 6 4. Yoon checked, and Winston bet $1 million. Yoon thought for a minute and then raised to $3 million. Winston moved all in, and Yoon immediately called with the A K. Winston showed the 4 4 for a set of fours, and Yoon was drawing runner-runner perfect to a straight. The turn card was the 2, and Yoon was drawing dead. His second-place finish was good for $832,725.

In an interview shortly after his victory, Winston said, "Going into the day as the chip leader, I felt like this was my tournament to win. The cards flowed right early, and I got my money in good almost every time. He [Yoon] gave me a tough time … every time I made a move on him, he came right back over the top." Winston's WPT Borgata Poker Open title earned him $1,575,280 and an entry into the $25,000 buy-in season-five WPT Championship.