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He was in the ‘clubhouse’, not taking part in the final, hoping that either Nick Petrangelo or the overnight chip leader Justin Bonomo would prevail, giving him the $50,000 Championship bonus prize.
In the end, it was not to be for Lin, with Martin Zamani’s victory completing a remarkable comeback from a scandal that threatened to end his career almost a year ago.
With Justin Bonomo leading the final six players to the final table, those half-dozen players were the only players of the 37 entries to make money. Bonomo’s stack of 2.1 million chips dwarfed that of many of his opponents at the final table, with Zamani closest to the lead on 1.8 million.
Behind the top two, Jeremy Ausmus (1.25m) knew only a win would do for him to become champion, and he was also relying on Zamani not being able to make the heads-up battle too. Nick Petrangelo (780,000) only had skin in the game for Event #10 as he couldn’t win the Championship, but both Chris Brewer (678,000) and Dan Smith (651,000) began the action knowing that if they could climb from short stack to winner, the overall title would be theirs no matter who else came where.
The first player to be eliminated was one of the potential Championship winners in Chris Brewer. The American has proven quite the high roller expert over the past 12 months but ran out of luck in spectacular fashion when he pushed all-in with a short stack holding ace-three, only to be called by Martin Zamani with pocket aces. It was a brutal end for Brewer, who, after no luck from the board, cashed for $92,500 in sixth place.
It was no time at all before the remaining five players became the final four. Dan Smith knew that with Brewer on the rail, even second place would guarantee him the Championship victory. Short on chips, ‘The Cowboy’ was in need of a double up to get back into contention and the Double Up Drive charity owner was happy to commit all of his chips with pocket jacks.
Called by Zamani with pocket queens, however, Smith was desperate for help in order to survive. A jack on the flop hinted at the fortune he required, but it came with a ten and after a king on the turn, an ace on the river signified Broadway, the highest straight in the deck for Zamani. Smith was defeated, collecting $148,000, leaving four to fight for the Event #10 top prize of $666,000 – with a devil of a job to get past the other three players.
Down to four, play took another three hours before going down to three-handed action. In the end, it was the overnight chip leader, Justin Bonomo, who busted next, cashing for $203,500 when his eight-ten of diamonds fell to Zamani’s ace-ten of spades, the nut flush arriving by the turn to leave Bonomo defeated. The all-time money list leader, who is the first man past $60m in live tournament winnings, was on the rail, his distinctive pink hair leaving the PokerGO Studio at ARIA a less colorful place.
Jeremy Ausmus started three-handed play knowing that if he could recover some chips and attack the summit, then he would be the Championship winner. That became impossible very quickly, however, when his quest ended in third place for $296,000.
All-in with the best of it, Ausmus saw his ace-six overtaken by Zamani’s jack-seven after a seven on the flop was higher than the six also on board. No help on turn or river meant that play was heads-up, with Zamani enjoying a lead of 4.8 million chips to Nick Petrangelo’s 2.5 million.
Just 20 minutes of heads-up play later, Petrangelo bluffed away a big chunk of his chips, and dropped to having just a quarter of Zamani’s stack. That was when Zamani chose to shove with king-six and Pentrangelo looked down at queen-ten and made the call, hoping his hand could upset the odds that were marginally against him. A flop of K-T-3 gave both players a pair, but Pentrangelo still needed to hit again, and on the four turn and jack river, couldn’t do so. That pronounced Martin Zamani the Event #10 winner and the 2023 U.S. Poker Open champion.
Martin Zamani won Event #10 for $666,000 but until then, his other cashes had left him an outside chance for the Championship. Scraping into the money in the opening event, he finished that 14th place with another placement of 14th in Event #3 at the PokerGO Studio at ARIA in Las Vegas. Zamani’s third-place finish in Event #6 looked promising, but the American drew a blank in Events #7 through #9. That was all forgotten, however, in the final event as Zamani scored the requisite points required to take him past Ren Lin into top spot, earning him the $50,000 Championship bonus and seeing him join former U.S. Poker Open winners Stephen Chidwick, David Peters, and Sean Winter.
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