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This Week's Big Winner: Aaron Mermelstein Wins WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event

A Hand-By-Hand Breakdown Of Mermelstein’s First Major Tournament Victory

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Mar 18, 2015


In late January, the $3,500 buy-in 2015 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open drew a huge field of 989 entries, creating a total prize pool of $3,263,700. In the end, the lion’s share of the cash went to 27-year-old Aaron Mermelstein, who outlasted a tough final table to earn his first major tournament victory.

For the win, the Philadelphia native collected $712,305, by far the biggest score of his career. Mermelstein’s previous best finish was a win in a $300 buy-in preliminary event at the 2014 Borgata Fall Poker Open for $39,663. He’s also recorded cashes at the World Series of Poker, Parx Big Stax, and WSOP Circuit stop in Atlantic City.

Here’s a look at the five biggest hands that propelled Mermelstein to victory.

The Tournament: WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event

Buy-In: $3,500 • No. of Entries: 989 • First Place: $712,305

Hand No. 1 – Mermelstein Wins Critical Flip On Final Table Bubble

The Action

Shawn Cunix raised to 125,000 in middle position and Aaron Mermelstein reraised to 310,000 on the button. Kevin Calenzo then moved all in for 1,160,000 in the big blind. Cunix folded and Mermelstein though it over for a few minutes before calling with 6Club Suit 6Diamond Suit. Calenzo showed ADiamond Suit QSpade Suit, making him a slight underdog in the race for a substantial stack at the final table. The board ran out JClub Suit 5Heart Suit 2Heart Suit 6Spade Suit QClub Suit and Mermelstein’s set took down the pot to give him more than 3 million in chips going into ten-handed play.

Hand No. 2 – Mermelstein Moves Into Second Place By Getting Value On The River

The Action

At the ten-handed unofficial final table, Barry Leventhal raised from under the gun to 130,000 and Aaron Mermelstein reraised to 300,000 from middle position. Leventhal called and the flop came down QClub Suit 7Heart Suit 6Spade Suit. Leventhal checked and Mermelstein continued for 260,000. Leventhal called and both players checked when the 8Club Suit hit the turn. The river paired the board with the QHeart Suit and Leventhal checked for a third time. Mermelstein bet 500,000 and Leventhal tank called. Mermelstein showed ASpade Suit AClub Suit and Leventhal mucked. The pot gave Mermelstein the second biggest stack at the table, which he then made even bigger by busting Leventhal just five hands later.

Hand No. 3 – Mermelstein’s Boat Versus Trips Gives Him Chip Lead

The Action

During five-handed action at the televised final table, Aaron Mermelstein raised to 260,000 on the button and chip leader Shawn Cunix called in the big blind. The flop came down 9Heart Suit 8Spade Suit 5Diamond Suit and Cunix led for 325,000. Mermelstein called and the turn was the QClub Suit. Both players checked and the river paired the board with the 8Club Suit. Cunix bet 625,000 and Mermelstein raised to 2.2 million. Cunix made the call with JClub Suit 8Diamond Suit for trips, but Mermelstein’s 8Heart Suit 5Heart Suit made a full house, giving him more than 11 million and the chip lead.

Hand No. 4 – Mermelstein Makes Another Boat Versus Trips To Double Up

The Action

After losing his chip lead and seeing the short stacks double up multiple times, Aaron Mermelstein found himself in third of the remaining four players. On the first hand back from a break, he raised to 675,000 from under the gun and the chip leader, Eugene Todd, called from the big blind. The flop came down 6Heart Suit 3Diamond Suit 2Diamond Suit and Todd checked. Mermelstein bet 550,000 and Todd called. The turn was the 5Heart Suit and both players checked. The river was the 3Club Suit, pairing the board, and Todd checked. Mermelstein moved all in for 3,750,000 and Todd made the call with AClub Suit 3Spade Suit for rivered trips. Mermelstein showed 2Spade Suit 2Club Suit, however, for a full house to regain the chip lead.

Hand No. 5 – Mermelstein Finds Dominating Spot To Win Tournament

The Action

Eugene Todd limped in from the button and Aaron Mermelstein raised to 1,600,000. Todd called and the flop came down QClub Suit JSpade Suit 7Club Suit. Mermelstein continued with a bet of 2.7 million and Todd moved all in for a total of 12,050,000. Mermelstein instantly called with ASpade Suit QSpade Suit for top pair, top kicker and Todd was in real trouble with QHeart Suit 8Heart Suit. This pot was worth 92.5 percent of all of the chips in play. Todd would win about 12 percent of the time, but the favorite held up as the turn and river fell 3Diamond Suit AHeart Suit.

Final Table Tournament Results

1 Aaron Mermelstein — $712,305
2 Eugene Todd — $419,467
3 Randy Pfeifer — $253,263
4 Shawn Cunix — $212,108
5 Esther Taylor-Brady — $174,118
6 Justin Liberto — $140,878
7 Casey Yontz — $112,386
8 Philippe Belley — $85,476
9 Michael Wang — $58,567