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Mark Davis Denies Darren Elias Fifth WPT Title, Wins Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown

The Alabama Native Overcame A Field of 2,010 Entries To Win $1,000,300 And His First WPT Title


Darren Elias is the World Poker Tour’s end boss. He holds the tour’s lead in titles (4), final-table finishes (12), and cashes (44). On Wednesday, May 25 he very nearly extended his WPT title record, making it all the way down to heads-up from a field of 2,010 entries in the 2022 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown $3,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event. There was only one player remaining between Elias and his fifth title: Mark Davis. The recent World Series of Poker Circuit main event winner from Birmingham, Alabama clashed with Elias in a four-hour heads-up match, with almost 100 hands played between the final two competitors with the title and a seven-figure top prize on the line. In the end, Davis denied Elias, securing the $1,000,300 payday and his first WPT title for the win.

Davis was also awarded a massive haul of 1,620 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. This was his second POY-qualified title and fourth final-table finish of the year. In addition to his $334,678 win in the WSOPC Harrah’s Cherokee main event back in March, he also finished fourth in another WSOPC ring event at that series and second in a $300 buy-in event at the Pearl River Winter Poker Open. With 3,020 total points and more than $1.4 million in year-to-date earnings, Davis has surged up the leaderboard and into sixth place in the 2022 POY race sponsored by Global Poker.

The final table of this event was filmed for television at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas at Luxor. After two starting flights and three more days of action at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood in South Florida, the field was narrowed down to six entries back on April 12. Elias came into the final table with nearly 40 percent of the total chips in play.

It took just six hands for Mark Laufer to find himself all-in and at risk. He three-bet shoved with pocket threes out of the big blind and Davis, who had raised from the button, made the call with A-9. Davis made aces and kings to secure the pot, while Laufer earned $215,000 as the sixth-place finisher.

Andrew Barfield was the next to fall at Davis’ hands. Again, Davis opened and then called a three-bet shove from a pocket pair with two overcards. This time around, Barfield held pocket sevens while Davis had K-Q. Davis flopped a pair and rivered a straight to send Barfield home in fifth place ($280,000).

Viet VoViet Vo finished third in this same event back in 2021. The now four-time WPT final tablist survived to the final four again just one year later but was unable to improve on his previous high finish. Vo got the last of his chips in this time around with AClub Suit8Diamond Suit on a AHeart SuitJHeart Suit7Diamond Suit flop. He was up against the ADiamond Suit4Diamond Suit for Elias. The 3Diamond Suit turn and 2Diamond Suit river gave Elias a runner-runner flush and the pot. Vo settled for $370,000 as the fourth-place finisher. He now has more than $3.7 million in career tournament earnings to his name.

Three-handed play only lasted 13 hands. Elias opened from the button with a min-raise holding 7Heart Suit7Diamond Suit. Marcos Exterkotter three-bet shoved for 13 big blinds with ADiamond Suit4Spade Suit. A jack-high runout brought no held for Exterkotter and he was eliminated in third place ($490,000). This was the largest score of the Brazilian’s career.

With that, Elias took 63,700,000 into heads-up play with Davis, who held 36,750,000 to start. Davis closed the gap considerably in the early going, but all of that progress was lost when Elias took down a sizable pot with pocket queens on the 15th hand of their final battle for the title.

Just shy of 60 hands after Exterkotter was eliminated, Davis took the heads-up chip lead for the first time when his A-7 found a seven on the river, besting the A-10 high of Elias. A few hands later, David turned a ten-high straight. His sizable river value bet after the board paired on the end was paid off to extend his lead. Elias was able to battle his way back on top, and the two then proceeded to exchange the lead a few times before Davis began to pull away. Davis picked off a bluff, calling a chunky river bet from Elias with just K-Q high and winning the hand to take more than a 6:1 lead.

In the final hand, Davis limped in with 8Heart Suit5Heart Suit from the button and Elias checked his big blind with 9Diamond Suit7Spade Suit. Teh flop came down QClub Suit8Spade Suit5Club Suit. Elias check-called a bet of 2,600,000 from Davis and the 10Heart Suit hit the turn. Elias shoved for his last 9,300,000 and Davis made the call with his two pair. The 7Heart Suit on the river did not complete Elias’ straight draw and he was knocked out in second place, earning $660,000 for his runner-up showing. This marked the first time that he had ever lost a heads-up match on the tour, having gone 4-0 in his previous showdowns when a WPT title was on the line.

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

Place Player Earnings (USD) POY Points
1 Mark Davis $1,000,300 1620
2 Darren Elias $660,000 1350
3 Marcos Exterkotter $490,000 1080
4 Viet Vo $370,000 810
5 Andrew Barfield $280,000 675
6 Michael Laufer $215,000 540

Photo credits: World Poker Tour.