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Zachary Smiley Wins 2016 World Poker Tour Maryland Live! Main Event

Med-School Dropout Wins $356,536 and WPT Title With First Cash In Major Live Event


The eyes of poker fans everywhere were on Maryland Live! casino as four notable professional players were set to battle it out for the latest World Poker Tour title at the six-handed final table. The big-name players included two-time WPT winner Darren Elias, former Online pro Mario Silvestri, WSOP bracelet winner and current WPT Player of the Year race leader Benjamin Zamani and Cate Hall, who was at her fourth final table on the tour in the last 12 months. Even with all of those seasoned pros, the title was ultimately contested between IT salesman Ryan Belz and recent medical school dropout Zachary Smiley, neither of whom had ever earned a cash on the WPT. In the end Smiey emerged victorious as the 2016 WPT Maryland Live! $3,500 no-limit hold’em main event champion, earning his first major live tournament title and the $356,536 first-place prize.

Smiley came into the final table as the second shortest stack. Short stack Cate Hall was the first to hit the rail in sixth place ($68,554). Shortly afterwards Smiley tripled up when his ADiamond Suit10Diamond Suit outran Belz pocket queens and Benjamin Zamani’s pocket eights. The board ran out ASpade SuitKHeart Suit3Club Suit9Diamond Suit9Club Suit and Smiley rocketed up the leaderboard from short stack to second in chips behind Belz. Zamani hit the rail in fifth place for $85,429. This was his third main event final table on the tour this season, with two prior runner-up finishes. The 525 Card Player Player of the Year points he earned were enough to move him into 19th place in the POY race with 3,015 points and year-to-date earnings of $868,843.

Mario Silvestri sent Darren Elias to the rail in third place ($113,905) but he followed Elias to the rail not long, as just a few orbits later he ran AHeart SuitJClub Suit into Smiley’s AClub SuitQClub Suit and failed to catch up. Silvestri was eliminated in third place, earning $153,983 and setting up the final showdown between Belz and Smiley.

Smiley began with just over a 3-to-2 chip advantage over Belz. The two played just over 40 hands of heads up, with Smiley slowly extending his lead. In the final hand Smiley four-bet all in preflop with the 5Heart Suit5Diamond Suit and was called by Belz’s ADiamond SuitQClub Suit. The board ran out 10Club Suit9Club Suit6Diamond SuitJHeart Suit4Spade Suit and Smiely’s small pair held up, securing him the title and sending Belz to the rail in second place ($239,412).

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at this final table:

Place Player Earnings (USD) POY Points
1 Zachary Smiley $356,536 1260
2 Ryan Belz $239,412 1050
3 Mario Silvestri $153,983 840
4 Darren Elias $113,905 630
5 Benjamin Zamani $85,429 525
6 Cate Hall $68,554 420

Winner photo courtesy of WPT.