Ben Zamani continues to be a player to watch. Adding to his list of recent accomplishments, the 30-year-old pro from Boca Raton, Florida, took down the 2017 River Poker Series $2,500 Main Event at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma, on Tuesday. The tournament attracted 926 entries, creating a $2,173,333 prize pool (surpassing its $2 million guarantee), and paid the winner $347,134 after a negotiated chop.
Legend of Zamani Grows
Zamani is the reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year, and this latest score marked his fourth largest tournament payday. Since 2007, he’s amassed $4,459,266 in live tournament earnings, including a career-high $1 million for finishing fourth in the 2010 PCA Main Event.
Other highlights on his poker résumé include two World Series of Poker bracelets. In 2015 he won a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event for $460,640, and followed that up in 2017 with a bracelet in $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo for $238,620.
On the WPT, Zamani made his first big finish in November 2015, winning $252,267 for a second-place finish in a “bounty scramble.” Then in 2016, he made three WPT final tables, with runner-up finishies in both the 2016 WPT Choctaw ($412,234) and WPT Legends of Poker ($341,412).
With his latest victory in Oklahoma, he jumped to 13th on the list of his home state Florida’s all-time tournament money winners.
From Short Stack to Champ
Zamani began the third and final day of the River tournament with fewer than ten big blinds. At that point, all eyes were on Max Coleman, who was looking to win the title for the second time in three years. But Zamani quietly and diligently began to chip up, and eventually collided with Coleman.
In Level 29 (50k/100k/10k), Coleman’s stack had gone short, and he moved all-in for 850,000 from early position. Zamani called from the small blind, after which Lang Nguyen moved all-in for 4.9 million from the big. Zamani called.
Nguyen didn’t have the best of it for long. The flop came down 9♠A♥Q♥. Coleman saw the ace he wanted, but Zamani flopped the set. Nguyen held out flush hopes when a 9♥ hit the turn, but a brick 5♣ on the river sent Coleman to the rail while leaving Nguyen short. From there, Zamani never looked back.
“In a poker tournament, you’re just never out of it,” Zamani said after the comeback win. “I kept believing and didn’t think about anything else.”
Heads-up, Zamani was the shorter stack facing Chengce Jiang. The two agreed to a deal where Jiang locked up $297,760 and Zamani took $287,134, leaving $60,000 and the title to play for.
In the final hand of the tournament, which occurred in Level 32 (100k/200k/30k), both players limped pre-flop and check-checked when the cards fell 9♠6♠7♣. When the 2♦ appeared on the turn, Zamani bet 350,000. Jiang came over the top for roughly 5 million. Zamani called. He was ahead with top-pair and a gutshot, but Jiang had nine outs with bottom pair and an open-ender.
The river was the A♣. And with it, so ended The River.
Final Table Results
1 Ben Zamani $347,134
2 Chengce Jiang $297,760
3 Johanssy Joseph $188,904
4 Dwight Sellars $142,011
5 Lang Nguyen $107,986
6 Chris Hopper $83,073
7 Maxx Coleman $64,650
8 Gnana Duddukuru $50,893
9 Lawrence Porath $40,537
10 Mike Dentale $32,669
Others notables to cash in the event included Anthony Spinella (12th for $32,669), MSPT Season 7 FireKeeepers champ Aaron Massey (17th for $21,935), Aaron Mermelstein (26th for $13,090), Marvin Rettenmaier (27th for $13,090), Allen Kessler (77th for $5,245), and 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker (105th for $4,089).