Cookies on the PokerWorks Website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the PokerWorks website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.

Continue using cookies

Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Gavin Griffin Wins Borgata Poker Classic & Makes History

Share this
In the first month of the new year, many of poker’s best and brightest players headed out to Atlantic City, New Jersey for the Borgata Poker Classic. Quite a few of them will readily admit that the Borgata tournament structures are the best anywhere, so the World Poker Tour $10,000 buy-in main event ends up being one of the best attended events of the year.

The preliminary events began on January 15th, and twelve days later, a total of 507 players signed up to play the WPT main event. This resulted in an ultimate prize pool of $4,917,900 with a first prize of more than $1.4 million.

At the end of Day 1, some of the most notable players in the field had been eliminated, including some like Erick Lindgren and Tom Dwan who had final tabled in the preliminary events. A gentleman named Lenny Cortellino was at the top of the leader board, followed by John Phan, Joe Sebok, Justin Bonomo, and Vanessa Rousso in that order.

Day 2 began with 313 players but would end with only 99 of them. Phan and Sebok entered the day at the top of the board but hit the rail before it was all said and done, but Bonomo chiseled away at the field and stayed in the top five. Late in the evening, Gavin Griffin would head to bed as the only player over the 500,000 chip mark, though Noah Schwartz, Rep Porter, and David Tran were creeping up on the chip leader.

Day 3 played down to 27 players but it took some time to get there. Action slowed as only 54 of the remaining field would get paid for their performances. David Tran ended the day as the massive chip leader with over two million, and only three players – Scott Blackman, Noah Schwartz, and Gavin Griffin – had over one million.

The fourth day of the event played down to the final six who would sit at the televised WPT table. Blackman, Bonomo, and Men Nguyen all made it to the final ten but were eliminated before the end of Day 4. When play ended for the day, the following players bagged and tagged their chips for final table play that would resume the next afternoon:

Seat 1: Lee Watkinson - 397,000
Seat 2: Noah Schwartz - 1,320,000
Seat 3: Ervin Prifti - 289,000
Seat 4: Gavin Griffin - 5,105,000
Seat 5: Thomas Hare - 2,851,000
Seat 6: David Tran - 5,271,000

It looked as if chip leaders David Tran and Gavin Griffin would battle it out for the title, but as with any final table in which the blinds and antes quickly escalate, anything could happen.

The January 31st final table got off to an active start with short-stacked Ervin Prifti trying to make a move. It was the fifth hand of the day when he reraised David Tran with K-Q, but Tran showed the A-K. The board produced an uneventful J-7-6-9-5, and Prifti – a 34-year old Pennsylvania resident in his first ever WPT event, who satellited in for $2100 no less – was eliminated in sixth place with $233,600.

Less than ten hands later, Lee Watkinson took his relatively small stack into battle with Noah Schwartz and successfully doubled up. But six hands later, the two would battle again. Watkinson moved all-in with pocket 7’s, but he was the underdog to Schwartz’s pocket 8’s. The board showed A-J-10-9-2, and Watkinson couldn’t survive. The tournament pro who most recently made the final table of the 2007 World Series of Poker main event was sent to the rail in this WPT event in fifth place for $282,779.

Play slowed for the next few dozen hands, during which time Thomas Hare doubled through Gavin Griffin to stay in contention. Even so, Tran was the far-and-away chip leader during most of the first part of the final table action.

It was soon Schwartz who decided to move when he woke up to pocket 9’s, and Tran called with K-Q. The toss-up was decided quickly when a K fell on the flop – and no 9’s on the rest of the board – to give Tran the pot. Schwartz, a well-known online player who uses the moniker “fourUhaters” and is only 24-years old, took home $331,958 for his fourth place finish.

At the beginning of three-way action, Griffin and Hare were quite a bit behind chip-leader Tran. But it was Griffin who finally got the upper hand by doubling through Hare. Crippled, Hare tossed the remainder of his stack all-in on the next hand with K-3 after Griffin raised, and Griffin showed K-Q. The cards came Q-J-9-7-8, and Hare – a retired businessman from Philadelphia who satellited into his first WPT event through a $1000 satellite – finished in third place and cashed for $381,137.

Going into heads-up play, Tran still maintained his lead with 8.695 million in chips, but Griffin wasn’t far behind with 6.52 million. And within three hands, Griffin took down a 4.2 million pot to take over the lead, which subsequently changed hands several more times before a key pot.

With Tran again in the lead, Griffin doubled up when he got all of his chips in with A-Q against Tran’s pocket 9’s, and the board gave Griffin a Queen on the flop. Griffin then had more than 13 million in chips.

But Tran wasn’t going down without a fight. He doubled up and chipped up over the course of numerous hands, but Griffin kept his lead and stayed aggressive. Finally, Tran moved all-in pre-flop with a suited K-8, and Griffin was right there with Q-J. The board came A-9-8-Q-10, and Tran’s fight was over. David “The Big Dragon” Tran, who had been mentored by David “Dragon” Pham and cashed in numerous tournaments, finished in second place with a prize of $737,685.

Gavin Griffin, a 26-year old former poker dealer who takes every opportunity to raise awareness of and funds for breast cancer research, won the WPT Borgata Poker Classic. He was awarded $1,401,109 in prize money, a Tag Heuer watch, and a customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

More importantly, Gavin became the first person in poker history to claim a WPT title, a European Poker Tour (EPT) title, and a WSOP bracelet. He already set a record in 2004 when he became the youngest person at that time to have won a WSOP bracelet at the age of 22, and he then joined an elite group of players who had won more than $2 million (his EPT Grand Final prize was $2.4 million) in a single tournament. On January 31, 2008, he became the first player to hold titles in all three major tournament circuits.

At only 26 years of age, Griffin has solidified his place in poker history. And most will say that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Congratulations, Gavin!

*Photo courtesy of WPT*

News Flash

The IRS Scores Big at 2015 WSOP ME Final Table

The IRS managed to snag 34.13 percent from the payouts of the 2015 November Nine, totaling $8,467,091.

Read more

Quick Room Review

Bonus Room review

Subscribe to the Nightly Turbo

Be the first to know all the latest poker news, tournament results, gossip and learn all about the best online poker deals straight from your inbox.

RSS Feed