After nearly five hours of play, Jun Wang won the 2018 WSOP International Circuit $500 Opening Event for $112,171, after coming into the final table as the chip leader, and conquering Malcolm Trayner in a hard-fought heads-up battle.
In total there were 1,444 entries this year, exceeding last years numbers by almost 100. The final nine had a wealth of experience including Zhi Ma and Chad Awerbuch who had both combined for over $700,000 in tournament earnings as well as tournament grinders Chu Ong, Alex Falon, and George Mitri.
“It’s great! This is my first final table,” Wang said when he was asked how he felt. His girlfriend was on the rail and had broken out in tears after Wang became victorious. “She’s actually won more than me,” he joked. When asked what was next on the agenda - “Well, I’ve actually won a ticket to the $5k Challenge event, so I’ll probably play that and maybe the main,” he added. “If the $5k doesn't go to plan, I may play the PLO event instead. That’s my preferred game,” he finished with.
Final Table Results
The day started with Zhi Ma committing his whole stack in the very first hand against Malcolm Trayner. He was at risk holding ace-king versus pocket queens and went further behind when Trayner hit a queen on the flop to make trips. The board then ran out perfect for Ma as he hit runner-runner straight cards to survive.
Trayner would get his first victim shortly after when he would dominate once more with ace-queen against George Mitri’s ace-jack to send Mitri home in 9th place. This would start a trend that would see three players fall in the first 40-minute level of the day. Chad Awerbuch followed when he found himself in great shape with pocket queens versus Shan Jiang’s pocket jacks preflop. A jack would fall on the turn sending Awerbuch to the rail. Just before the first break, Alex Falon would bluff off with jack-high against Jun Wang’s king-high after moving all in on the turn. Wang would improve to a flush by the river eliminating Falon in 7th place.
Falon wouldn't be the only one caught bluffing against Wang, as Chu Ong followed suit next. On a three heart board, Ong moved all on the river only to be snap-called. He flipped over his nine-high only for Wang to table his ace-four of hearts which had flopped the nuts.
Johnathan Hargrave went next when his ace-seven was no match for Zhi Ma’s ace-queen. A queen on the flop would be enough to see the New Zealand native and Day 1C chip leader sent to the rail and collecting his first ever cash in a live tournament.
Following the first break of the day (just two hours in) Trayner would eliminate two players in quick succession holding pocket kings both times to take a commanding lead into heads-up play. First, his pocket kings trumped Shan Jiang’s queens and then smashed Zhi Ma’s pocket fours moments later.
Trayner started heads-up play with a 2.5-1 lead and kept the momentum going for a short while until one bluff saw Wang double up. The two then fought it out for an hour-and-a-half with the chip-lead changing multiple times. On the final hand, Wang opened from the button and was met with an open-shove by Trayner. Wang had Trayner covered, and deliberated over his decision for a minute before calling.
Trayner was at risk holding king-seven and was up against Wang’s pocket sevens. No help would come and Trayner would fall agonizingly close to a maiden WSOP circuit victory.