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Aaron Van Blarcum Wins 2019 World Poker Tour Legends of Poker Main Event

The 43-Year-Old Texan Topped A Field of 520 Entries To Earn $474,390

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A total of 520 entries were made in the 2019 World Poker Tour Legends of Poker $5,000 no-limit hold’em main event at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino, surpassing the $2 million guarantee to create a final prize pool of $2,392,000. After two starting flights and three more days of top-notch poker action, it was Aaron Van Blarcum who emerged victorious with the title and the top prize of $474,390. The was the 43-year-old from Dallas, Texas’ first major live tournament win. Prior to securing this massive score of nearly half of a million dollars, Van Blarcum’s best cash was for his 212th-place finish in this year’s World Series of Poker main event for $50,855.

“Normally I just play cash games and that’s it. I go to the tournaments, but never play the tournaments, so I just decided to give it a try,” Van Blarcum told WPT reporters. "At the World Series [Main Event] I got 212th, so I decided to go ahead and do six of these. This was the first stop, so it looks like it turned out pretty well, and I’ll continue to do it.”

In addition to the title and the money, Van Blarcum also earned 1,680 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year, but it alone was enough to see him climb into 129th place in the 2019 POY race standings, which are sponsored by Global Poker.

Van Blarcum entered the final day of this event as the shortest stack with six players remaining. While he was out chipped by all five of his opponents, he was still relatively deep, with over 40 big blinds in his stack when play resumed. He was able to chip up a bit in the first few orbits and had managed to overcome Antonios Roungeris by the time the two got involved in the first preflop showdown of the day. Roungeris three-bet all-in over the top of Van Blarcum’s opening raise with 7Spade Suit7Club Suit. Van Blarcum had been dealt the JSpade SuitJHeart Suit and made the call. Neither player improved from there and Roungeris was eliminated in sixth place, earning $96,955.

Just a few hands after busting Roungeris, Van Blarcum made a royal flush with JSpade Suit10Spade Suit in his hand to win a sizable pot off of Jisup Hwang, who had made trips on the AClub SuitKSpade Suit2Heart SuitQSpade SuitASpade Suit runout. Hwang was ultimately the next player to hit the rail. He ran 3Heart Suit3Club Suit into the QSpade SuitQHeart Suit of start-of-day chip leader Gueorgui Gantchev. Hwang was unable to come from behind and was knocked out in fifth place ($127,165).

Vahan Sudzhyan was the next player to fall. He raised to 200,00 on the button with 6Heart Suit5Heart Suit and Van Blarcum three-bet to 680,000 from the big blind with ADiamond SuitKSpade Suit. Sudzhyan called and the flop came down QSpade Suit7Spade Suit4Spade Suit. Van Blarcum bet 750,000 and Sudzhyan called. The 10Spade Suit hit the turn and Van Blarcum checke to Sudzhyan, who moved all-in for 2,070,000. Van Blarcum called with his second nut flush. The ASpade Suit on the river sent Sudzhyan home with $168,630 as the fourth-place finisher.

Jared Griener was the shortest stack when three-handed play began. Griener was the most accomplished player among the final table, having accumulated more than $1.6 million in prior live tournament cashes. This was his fourth top-eight finish in a WPT main event, with his previous best finish being third in the 2017 L.A. Poker Classic for $431,340. Griener’s run in this event came to an end when he got all-in with 7Heart Suit7Diamond Suit, only to get called by the 9Heart Suit9Diamond Suit of Van Blacrcum. The board came down 8Club Suit5Spade Suit2Spade Suit9Club Suit4Diamond Suit and Van Blarcum made a set to eliminate Griener in third place ($226,040).

Heads-up play began with Van Blarcum holding nearly a 4:1 chip lead over Gueorgui Gantchev. The two battled it out for 28 hands, but in the end both players were dealt pocket pairs and all of the chips got in the middle. Van Blarcum once again held the best of it, with his 10Spade Suit10Club Suit in a dominant position against the 5Spade Suit5Diamond Suit of Gantchev. The QSpade Suit8Club Suit4Club Suit3Diamond Suit2Diamond Suit runout secured the pot and the title for Van Blarcum, while Gantchev earned $306,265 as the runner-up finisher.

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

Place Player Payout POY Points
1 Aaron Van Blarcum $474,390 1680
2 Gueorgui Gantchev $306,265 1400
3 Jared Griener $226,040 1120
4 Vahan Sudzhyan $168,630 840
5 Jisup Hwang $127,165 700
6 Antonios Roungeris $96,955 560
7 Taylor Black $74,740 420
8 Kitty Kuo $58,265 280
9 Jeremy Joseph $45,940 140

Winner photo credit: World Poker Tour / Jamie Thomson.