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Asher Conniff Wins 2015 World Poker Tour Championship At Borgata

Brooklyn-Based Poker Pro Misclicks His Way To Biggest Score Of His Career

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Jun 10, 2015

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Asher Conniff

For the second year running, the World Poker Tour Championship was held at the Borgata Casino Hotel and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 2015 
WPT Championship $15,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event drew a total of 239 entries, and, in the end, 26-year-old poker pro Asher Conniff emerged victorious, earning $973,683 and 1,152 Card Player Player of the Year points.

The Brooklyn, New York native was fresh off a win in the $1 million guaranteed $560 buy-in kickoff event at the Borgata Spring Poker Open two weeks prior. In that event, he outlasted a field of 2,408 entries to win $203,231 and 540 POY points. As a result of the two title runs Conniff has climbed into 14th place in the overall Player of the Year race standings with 1,692 total points and $1,176,914 in year-to-date earnings.

Incredibly, Conniff never intended to play the $15,000 buy-in main event. Under the screen name “misclick” on a regulated New Jersey online poker site, he accidentally registered for a satellite into the WPT Championship while attempting to play a weekly Sunday event with a similar buy-in. When he won a seat into the WPT Championship, he had to cancel a European vacation he had originally planned with his family.

It all worked out for the best, though, as Conniff made his way through the field and came into the televised final table of six players in second chip position. He was up against several top players, including Ray Qartomy, three-time WPT winner and all-time WPT money leader Carlos Mortensen, former WPT champion Tony Dunst (who finished third in this same event last year) and two-time WSOP bracelet winner Brian Yoon. Keven Stammen, who won this event in 2014, made another great run, finishing ninth for $69,549 this year and coming incredibly close to defending his title.

Also among the final six was Alexander Lakhov, who came into the final table as the chip leader. He and Conniff survived to heads-up play, with Conniff taking a more than 3-to-1 chip lead into heads-up play, which lasted only 12 hands. On the final hand, Conniff raised, and Lakhov moved all in for his last 20 big blinds with 10Heart Suit 6Heart Suit from the button. Conniff instantly called with ASpade Suit QHeart Suit. The board ran out 7Heart Suit 5Diamond Suit 2Spade Suit 4Spade Suit KSpade Suit to secure the pot for Conniff’s ace-high and send Lakhov to the rail as the runner-up.

Conniff was one of four players who qualified for the event through an online satellite. The Garden State’s regulated online poker market is down almost 30 percent in the last year, falling to revenues of $2.2 million compared with $3.2 million in March of 2014.

While online poker has been slumping, overall internet-gaming revenue is strong. Revenue from the other authorized online casino games in March was $10,937,994, up from $8,667,711 a year ago.

The WPT Championship’s field of 239 entrants was down significantly from the 328 who entered in 2014. Part of the decline can be explained away by the tour’s decision to remove the re-entry format and only offer one starting flight, as well as being scheduled right before the EPT Grand Final in Monaco. Atlantic City’s continuing struggles may also have played a role in the sluggish numbers.

Final Table Results

1. Asher Conniff — $973,683
2. Alexander Lakhov — $573,779
3. Brian Yoon — $330,358
4. Carlos Mortensen — $267,764
5. Ray Qartomy — $208,644
6. Tony Dunst — $173,873

A Talk With The Champ

Card Player spoke to Conniff just days after his big win to find out more about the 26-year-old poker pro from Brooklyn, New York.

Julio Rodriguez: By now most people know that you accidentally won a satellite into the WPT Championship. Can you elaborate on how that happened?

Asher Conniff: BorgataPoker.com was running the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOP) tournament series for two weeks. The Sunday after my event no. 1 victory in the Spring Poker Open at Borgata, I was obviously riding a poker high and feeling great, so I decided to play online. I was apparently a little too relaxed. I was trying to buy into the $1,000 high roller event and accidentally entered a $1,600 satellite to the WPT Championship. Some would call it a misclick, which seems super appropriate as my username on BorgataPoker.com is actually “misclick!” I won the seat and was unable to get a refund, so I had to play, and now I’m a WPT champion! I was definitely wildly relaxed during the tournament, having just come off the win in event no. 1. It gave me a ton of confidence, financial freedom and happiness.

JR: How long have you been playing poker? What did you parents think when you chose to pursue poker as a profession?

AC: I’ve been playing live poker full time for three years, and have been playing on and off for about seven years. I took a nice chunk of time off after Black Friday and eventually rediscovered my love of the game. I honestly have the most supportive set of parents possible. My father is a freelance musician who totally understood the struggle of breaking through in a non-traditional field, and my mother is just the greatest, most supportive and positive human on this earth.

JR: The WPT Championship is one of the most prestigious tournaments in poker. How does it feel to be among the elite group of players who have won it? How do you feel about tournament titles in general? Do you enjoy the prestige of winning or is it all about the cash?

AC: I’m beyond overjoyed to be among the group of WPT champions. At this moment, two days after the win, it still hasn’t sunk in even a little bit. Seeing my name next to the past champions is obviously super surreal and exciting at the same time. I’ve been playing tournaments for a pretty long time, so on one hand I’ve learned to appreciate the magnitude of winning a live tournament and how special and cool it is, but on the other hand, I’m totally cognizant of the luck and confluence of big hands holding up, hands getting there, and everything else involved in winning this tournament.

JR: You won just under $1.2 million in the course of just a few weeks. How does the money change your life? Do you plan on playing more poker for higher stakes or are you comfortable with where you are at in your career?

AC: I think the money changes my life in less ways than people would expect, and probably less ways than I expected from winning this much money. I’ll still largely go to the same places and play a good amount of the same stuff. I’d rather spend my time around my friends, even if that means I have to play some smaller buyins, than spend my time traveling alone to expensive, less enjoyable tournaments. I’ll never have to sell action, which is obviously great. I’ve never been a big live cash game player because the hourly investment needed and the swings are more than I can enjoy. But most importantly, I don’t plan on my poker bankroll growing that much. A lot of that money is going towards investments, retirement accounts, and things of that sort. I’m looking to set myself up for life. ♠