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Simon Lam Wins 2018 World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Festival Main Event

Ice-Cream Shop Owner Wins First WPT Title and $565,055


Simon Lam has won the first-ever running of the World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Festival $5,000 no-limit hold’em main event, outlasting a field of 584 total entries to win $565,055 and a 2018 Mercedes-Benz SLC Roadster. The new car for the champion was not the only extra value contributed by the Gardens Casino in Los Angeles. There was also $200,000 added on to the prize pool, which grew to $2,944,800 as a result of the strong turnout.

Lam owns and operated Rollin Deep Ice Cream in Orange County. Although he is not a full-time poker player, this latest win has brought his lifetime live tournament earnings to more than $1.9 million.

Lam came into the six-handed final table of this event as the chip leader, but he had plenty of tough competition to deal with including 2017 WPT L.A. Poker Classic third-place finisher Jared Griener (6th – $115,885), 2018 World Series of Poker $565 pot-limit Omaha event winner Craig Varnell (4th – $201,615) and seven-time WSOP bracelet winner Men “The Master” Nguyen (3rd – $270,430).

Nguyen was in second chip position with three players remaining but ended up making a move that saw him hit the rail in third place. Lam raised to 600,000 from the button and Nguyen moved all in from the big blind for 7,675,000 (roughly 30 big blinds). Lam made the call with ADiamond SuitKSpade Suit and Nguyen revealed the 10Diamond Suit7Diamond Suit. The board ran out KHeart SuitJSpade Suit8Heart Suit5Club Suit6Club Suit and Lam paired his king to win the pot, sending Nguyen to the rail to take roughly a 4-to-1 chip lead into heads-up play against 28-year-old poker pro Jake Schindler.

This was Schindler’s 22nd final-table finish of 2018, with four titles won and more than $4.9 million in earnings so far this year coming into this event. Schindler was not able to overcome Lam’s big lead, though, and just ten hands into the heads-up match it was all over.

In the final hand, Lam raised to 600,000 from the button with blinds of 125,000-250,000 and Schindler called out of the big blind. The flop brought the JSpade Suit7Club Suit2Club Suit and Schindler check-raised Lam’s 500,000 bet to 1,500,000. Lam then three-bet all-in, having Schindler’s 4,675,000 well covered. Schindler called with JDiamond Suit8Diamond Suit, only to find out that Lam had him pipped with the JClub Suit9Spade Suit. The turn was the 3Heart Suit and the river the 2Diamond Suit. Lam’s kicker played, earning him the pot and the title.

Schindler took home $366,740 and 1,400 Card Player Player of the Year points for his runner-up showing. With 6,378 total points and $5,288,811 in year-to-date earnings he has taken control of the third-place spot on the 2018 POY leaderboard.

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

Place Player Earnings (USD) POY Points
1 Simon Lam $565,055 1680
2 Jake Schindler $366,740 1400
3 Men Nguyen $270,430 1120
4 Craig Varnell $201,615 840
5 Saya Ono $151,995 700
6 Jared Griener $115,885 560
7 Jesse Yaginuma $89,360 420
8 Tuan Phan $69,705 280
9 Steve Sung $55,010 140

Winner photo credit: WPT / Joe Giron.