While many players dream of having just one WPT victory, Darren Elias made history by becoming the first player to win a fourth WPT title. Elias overcame a field of 162 entries at the inaugural WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic in Las Vegas, denying runner-up Kitty Kuo her chance at a first WPT title. For his remarkable achievement, Elias pocketed the US$387,580 first prize and a seat to the upcoming WPT Tournament of Champions.
Somuchpoker was at the scene to witness this momentous occasion even stealing away the champ for a few words
“It’s great! To do something no one else has done, I like that. Feels special. There was so much pressure for me to win that now I feel relieved. Now I can relax. It feels good.” Elias expressed.
This victory will surely fuel Elias for his next task at hand, the season-ender WPT Tournament of Champions taking place from May 24 -26 at ARIA Resort and Casino. Despite being aware of the tough competition ahead, one that will likely be quite similar in caliber to the event he just championed, Elias looks forward to enjoying the game.
“That tournament is going to be fun because everyone kinda knows each other. It’s a friendly vibe. Then there’s the shot clock. It’s a really fun tournament.”
A quick review of Elias’s WPT poker journey
Like many young players today Elias grew up playing poker online. “Online is where I learned most of my poker and where I figured out how to play. Since there is no online poker in the United States like there used to be, I don’t play online too much anymore.”
Elias’s online endeavors are as equally superb to his live stats. Under PokerStars alone, he had a profit of over US$1.3M up to 2011, average ROI at 87%, with stakes at an average of US$359. By then, he was already making waves in the live scene running deep and winning a few events.
Between 2012 – 2017, he collected several WPT titles, three of which were major events with a combined total of US$1.3M in earnings.
Final Table action
Prior to today’s final bout, Kuo wasn’t the only player Elias denied a WPT title. Backtracking to Day 3’s last hand, Elias eliminated Phil “the Poker Brat” Hellmuth in 7th place. Throughout Hellmuth’s long-time poker career, the WPT title is one that has continued to elude Hellmuth.
The official final table of six kicked off at the state-of-the-art PokerGo Studio. The impressive set up was befitting to the lineup of decorated players ready to slug it out. Sitting sweet up top was Elias with nearly half of the chips in play while everyone else divvied the rest.
From the get-go, action took flight very quick with players dropping fast. Two-time WPT titleists Jonathan Little (6th )and Sam Panzica (5th) were first to fall, followed by one of the hottest running German heavy-hitters Dietrich Fast in 4th. This left Elias, Kuo, and WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen at three-handed.
On an unlucky spread of cards, McKeehen fell to Elias in 3rd giving the triple title-holder ⅔ of the chips in play at heads up. But despite the big advantage, Elias had difficulty putting out the Taiwanese fire. He would grind her down to 10:1 then she’d double back up. This happened three times until she was close to par with kings over ace-king. After three hours, it finally ended. Elias found the nail to hammer down Kuo and claim the inaugural WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic title.
During the awarding ceremony, Elias shared,
“Kitty played tough the whole time. She never gave up. Definitely a tricky player, trying to trap me, things like that. Tough player.”
As for Kuo, her impressive runner up finish earned her US$248,380 which now becomes the single largest score of her career. In our brief interview with Kuo yesterday, she expressed how badly she wanted to win a major title. She got very close today but since she missed, she will be fiercely hunting that down especially at the upcoming WSOP.
Final Table payouts
1st Darren Elias – US$387,580
2nd Kitty Kuo – US$248,380
3rd Joe McKeehen – US$178,610
4th Dietrich Fast – US$120,895
5th Sam Panzica – US$97,795
6th Jonathan Little – US$74,520
The WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic saw 162 entries pony up the US$10,000 entry fee for a prize pool of US$1,555,200. A total of 21 players earned a cut.
Article by Tricia David