$1500 + $150 Mix-Max No Limit Hold'em (Re-Entry)
By far the toughest field of the Borgata Winter Poker Open came down to the hottest player of the series against one of the best short-handed players in the world. In the end Jeff Papola (Monmouth Beach, NJ) beat Mike Linster (Island Park, NY) to win $42,623, denying Linster his third Borgata trophy in less than one week.
On the final hand, Papola's A♠ K♣ held against A♦ 8♦ for his second short-handed Borgata title and solidified his dominance of the game.
It feels good," said Papola, who also has a WSOP 6-max bracelet. "There were a lot of good players and it was a great structure."
"I was tired and I'm not feeling that well," said Linster who won the PLO and Black Chip Bounty tournaments earlier in the series. "We were almost too deep. I wish we wouldn't have started heads up so late after two long days."
Day 2 began with 16 players, only eight from the money, but with deep stacks and one hour long levels, breaking the bubble was no easy task. Four hours later, Daniel Chan (New York, NY) and start of the day chip leader James Weatherman (Bend, OR) busted in 10th and 9th places respectively and missed the cash.
But determining the final eight positions was still a lot of work before the action heated up after the dinner break.
Tyler Patterson (Everett, WA) and Mike Borovetz (Pittsburgh, PA) busted on separate tables at the same time, three hours after the bubble broke. Less than 2k separated the two stacks and Patterson's
slight edge gave him seventh place, while Borovetz was 8th.
Another quick bustout, Vinny Panjua (Hicksville, NY) in 6th, set the final table of five and it was back to the grind.
Linster eventually knocked out Matt Affleck (Seattle, WA) in 5th, when he turned a full house against Affleck's flopped straight for a 500k chip pot. The next two eliminations, Ari Engel (Las Vegas, NV) in 4th and Christian Harder (Annapolis, MD) 3rd, went to Papola to set the heads up stage.
"I played well," said Papola, "but got lucky against Christian." Harder had Papola dominated AK vs AQ, but a river king gave Papola a straight and a 2-1 chip lead against Linster.
"I looked at the clock," said Linster who had 55 bb when heads up play began after midnight, "and knew it could take a while. I decided to be aggressive and hope he would fold a few hands. He happened to have ace-king and I'm almost never folding there. Ace-eight suited is pretty strong heads up."
93 players began the slugfest that featured many pros who didn't make it to Day 2. The list included heavy hitters Dwyte Pilgrim, Dan Buzgon, Brock Parker, Cherish Andrews, Orson Young and Jamie Kerstetter, just to name a few players who put up their piece of the $139,500 total buy-in.
The Mix-Max format played to Papola's strength and he took advantage with one of the big stacks throughout Day 2. "You get to play a lot more hands," said Papola who's first Borgata trophy came
in a 2011 6-max event. "It suits my game because I like to play as many hands as I can."
"Three would have been nice," said Linster, who has combined for nearly $94,000 so far this series, "but I'm not done yet. I'm saving my third for the main."
1st Jeff Papola (Monmouth Beach, NJ) $42,623
2nd Mike Linster (Island Park, NY) $27,063
3rd Christian Harder (Annapolis, MD) $18,944
4th Ari Engel (Las Vegas, NV) $13,532
5th Matt Affleck (Seattle, WA) $11,502
6th Vinny Pahjua (Hicksville, NY) $9,134
7th Tyler Patterson (Everett, WA) $7,104
8th Mike Borovetz (Pittsburgh, PA) $5,413