Thomas Zhang Wins Champions Club WPO $1,500 Main Event for $209,730!

Poker News

The 2024 Champions Club Winter Poker Open $1,500 Main Event has finally come to its dramatic conclusion as Thomas Zhang hoists the trophy after defeating Spencer Champlin in a lengthy heads-up battle. Along with the trophy and the title, Zhang takes home $209,730, while Champlin is awarded the runner-up prize of $164,430.

$1,500 Main Event Final Table Results

Place Player Prize
1 Thomas Zhang $209,730
2 Spencer Champlin $164,430
3 Andrew Esposito $131,540
4 Jerry Yen $78,750
5 Adam Hendrix $59,910
6 Cedrric Trevino $48,180
7 David Diaz $40,000
8 Chris Staats $31,920
9 Charles Sinn $24,020

“It honestly feels like I’m in a dream,” Zhang said after the grueling two-hour heads-up battle,” It’s kind of crazy, actually, because the only tournament I won was ten years ago in Macao, and I told myself at the end of last year that I really wanted to win another one before I die, and I just feel like I manifested this.” This was prevalent throughout all of the stages of the tournament, as he was heard saying that he could just feel like he couldn’t lose.

The UK-born Shanghai resident did not even plan on playing in the tournament this week, but the private equity broker just happened to be close in Missouri City, where he was tending to a property. “Yeah, 99% of the time, I just play cash, but I saw there was a $1 mil tournament going on, so I just decided to flick it in.” This was his biggest recorded cash ever, according to The Hendon Mob, and this win quadrupled his tournament winnings from $70,000 to $280,000.

Thomas Zhang
Thomas Zhang

This tournament was one for the books here in Houston as 1,033 players took their shot in the six starting flights. The $1 million guarantee for this event was hit early on the last flight and was then blown out of the water as there were 418 entries to bring the total prize pool to $1,363,560.

Of these entries, 125 of them (12%) made the money and returned on Day 2 yesterday, where they played down to 11 after hitting the hard stop at 2:30 a.m. Those 11 players returned today at 2:00 p.m. and the action heated up right out of the gate, especially for Champlin who knocked out both David Mzareulov and Tony Bunch within the first 20 minutes of play.

The Final Table

Once the players got to the final table, it was Charles ‘Big Cat’ Sinn who was the first casualty as he exited in ninth when he got it in with king-jack against the ace-queen of Jerry Yen and failed to improve. Next to go was Chris Staats, who exited in gross fashion when he got it all in with pocket aces against the ace-king of Cedrric “Poker Traveler” Trevino. A king appeared on the flop, and another came on the turn to send Staats out in eighth place.

Yen then claimed another victim in the form of David “Lefty” Diaz when Diaz got it in with king-eight but fell to the four-five suited of Yen when a five appeared on the flop to send him out in seventh. Next to go was Trevino, who had gotten short after Zhang bluffed him in a big pot to leave him with less than ten big blinds. Trevino got it in good with king-queen of clubs versus Adam Hendrix with jack-ten of the same suit, but a jack appeared on the flop to spell the end for Trevino, and he hit the payout desk in sixth. Hendrix himself was then eliminated in fifth when he ran his pocket sevens into the ace-ten of Zhang. His bust was especially nasty as the board double-paired with jacks and eights, leaving him with only seven-high while Zhang held ace-high to win the pot.

After a while of trading chips, It was Yen who was sent out in fourth when he became short and jammed it in with king-queen but was dominated against the ace-queen of Zhang, much to the disappointment of his massive rail. After Yen left, Zhang, Champlin, and Andrew Esposito, who were all pretty even in chips, agreed to take $25,000 off of the first-place prize and added it to third.

Jerry Yen's Rail
Jerry Yen’s Rail

Even with this deal in place, it was still over two and a half hours before Esposito hit the rail after doubling up Zhang and losing some other pots before getting it in with king-queen against the ace-queen of Champlin and failing to improve.

Then the real battle began, an almost three-hour grudge match between Zhang and Champlin as they started dead even at the beginning of heads-up. Each player then took turns having a 2:1 and even greater chip lead against one another, with the sides flipping every level. There were multiple instances where it looked like they would surely get the stacks into the middle, but both players were playing very cautiously and avoided making polarizing plays. It wasn’t until Zhang flopped trip kings and his big river bet got paid off by Champlin, who had made two pair on the turn.

Not too long after, Champlin moved in with pocket deuces, and Zhang made the call with ace-five offsuit. It even looked like Champlin was going to double once more on the turn, but a five smacked down on the river to give Zhang a pair of fives to send him out as the runner-up.

At the conclusion of their arduous battle, the two players congratulated each other and shook hands before Zhang hoisted the Main Event trophy and took his winner’s photo.

That does it for the PokerNews coverage here at Champions Club in Houston, Texas, but be sure to keep up with them as they are planning very exciting things in the near future!

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