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Markus Gonsalves Wins Long-Delayed 2020 WPT Gardens Poker Championship

The San Diego Resident Earned $554,495 and His First WPT Title 422 Days After The Final Table Was First Set

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It took 422 days for the final table to reconvene again after first being set on Jan. 13, 2020, but after a lengthy delay caused by COVID-19, a winner has finally been decided in the 2020 World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Championship $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event. On Mar. 10, 2021 Markus Gonsalves emerged victorious from the field of 257 total entries to secure his first WPT title and the first-place prize of $554,495.

“I think I’ve come close once or twice before so it feels nice to finally win one. All my friends have them. That’s going to be great to troll Phil [Hellmuth], that’s for sure," Gonsalves told WPT reporters after coming out on top.

“It feels good to get it over, it feels good to win," continued Gonsalves waiting more than a year to play this tournament out.

In addition to the title and the money, Gonsalves was also awarded 1,020 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. As a result, he climbed into 12th place in the 2021 POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker.

The WPT Gardens Poker Championship was one of three final tables that were set in early 2020 with the intention of being played out and filmed for television from March 31 through April 2 of that year in Las Vegas. The COVID-19 outbreak shut down the entirety of the live tournament scene just weeks before these events were scheduled to be completed, putting the tournaments on an indefinite hiatus. In early March of 2021, the newly-scheduled dates for the final tables were announced, with this particular event being the first on the agenda.

Qing LiuTwo-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Chance Kornuth held the chip lead when play resumed, with Gonsalves sitting in second on the leaderboard. Qing Liu came into the day as the second shortest stack but was riding high after having won the WPT Venetian main event for $752,880. Liu was ultimately the first to be eliminated in this event, though. He got all-in with 5Heart Suit3Diamond Suit for a low two pair on a QSpade Suit5Spade Suit3Club Suit2Diamond Suit board. He was ahead against the KHeart SuitKClub Suit of Tuan Phan, but the QHeart Suit on the river counterfeited his hand to see him sent home in sixth place. He earned $111,795 and 340 POY points for his strong showing. He now sits with a sizable lead in the 2021 POY race, having made seven final tables and won two titles already this year.

Straton Wilhelm was the next to fall. In the following hand he got all-in with ASpade Suit10Heart Suit and found himself up against the pocket aces of Tuan Phan, who had been dealt monster pocket pairs in back-to-back hands. Wilhelm was unable to come from behind and settled for $146,655 as the fourth-place finisher.

Chance KornuthWith that Phan supplanted Chance Kornuth atop the leaderboard. Kornuth, who recently clashed with Phil Galfond in his high-stakes pot-limit Omaha heads-up challenge, steadily slid down the leaderboard as four-handed play continued. In his final hand, Kornuth limped in from the small blind with pocket sixes. Gonsalves noved all-in with ADiamond Suit5Club Suit and Kornuth called for 990,000. His pocket pair was unable to hold up, as Gonsalves spiked an ace on the flop to take the lead and held from there. Kornuth was awarded $195,085 as the fourth-place finisher.

Three-handed play lasted four orbits. It was brought to an end by a preflop cooler, with Jonathan Cohen getting all-in holding pocket nines against the pocket tens of Gonsalves. The superior pair held up through the river and Cohen was knocked out in third place, earning $263,090 for his deep run in this event.

Gonsalves entered heads-up play with nearly a 5:1 chip lead over Tuan Phan. While this disparity might have made it appear that the final showdown for the title might be a quick one, the two ultimately battled it out for more than three hours, with Phan actually overtaking the lead briefly late in the match. Gonsalves was able to regain the advantage by doubling up just a few hands before the tournament came to a close.

In the final hand of the event, Gonsalves picked up 10Heart Suit4Heart Suit and limped in from the small blind. Phan checked with 5Diamond Suit3Diamond Suit and the flop came down 9Heart Suit5Heart Suit3Heart Suit. Phan check-called a bet of 200,000 and the turn brought the QSpade Suit. Phan checked again and Gonsalves bet 600,000. Phan moved all-in for 3,075,000 total and Gonsalves called with his flopped flush. Phan had outs to a full house, but the JSpade Suit on the river was of no help and he was eliminated as the runner-up ($359,650).

Here is a look at the payouts awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Markus Gonsalves $554,495 1020
2 Tuan Phan $359,650 850
3 Jonathan Cohen $263,090 680
4 Chance Kornuth $195,085 510
5 Straton Wilhelm $146,655 425
6 Qing Liu $111,795 340

Photo credits: Joe Giron / WPT.