World Poker Tour (WPT) Ambassador Brad Owen will return for his shot at a spot on the Mike Sexton Cup after he turned 15 big blinds into the third-biggest chip stack at the end of Day 4 to qualify for the televised six-handed final table in Las Vegas.
The 2023 WPT Gardens Poker Championship drew 346 entries for a prize pool of $1,678,100.
Owen bagged 3,350,000 for the Day 5 finale and he is joined by chip leader Ryan Salunga with 7,265,000 and Chris Lee with 3,975,000. Ky Nguyen, Josh Lachman, and Joey Deluca round out the final six that will return to HyperX ESports Arena at Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 27 to play for the top prize of $357,380 and a seat at the $10,000 WPT World Championship in December.
The popular streamer and regular cash game player made a late run that included the eighth-place elimination of Steven Spunt with Owen’s trademark pocket jacks.
“Best jiggities ever,” Owen told WPT at the conclusion of Day 4. “I looked down at it, and I’m sure it wasn’t really visible but I kind of chuckled in my head a little bit and I was like ‘Oh this is fitting.”
Owen held on with the jacks and went on to eliminate Thomas Choi in seventh to lock in his spot at the televised final table in Las Vegas. A fourth-place finish or better would give Owen the biggest score in his career.
2023 WPT Gardens Poker Championship Final Table
|SEAT||PLAYER||COUNTRY||CHIP COUNT||BIG BLINDS|
|2||Brad Owen||United States||3,350,000||45|
|4||Chris Lee||United States||3,975,000||53|
|5||Josh Lachman||United States||225,000||3|
|6||Joey Deluca||United States||875,000||12|
Everyone is Chasing Salunga
Meanwhile, Salunga has already guaranteed his first big score and a sixth-place prize of $71,200. The lowest payout of the afternoon will take Salunga over $100,000 in lifetime earnings after a series of strong finishes throughout the California poker scene in 2023.
Lee enters Saturday’s final table as the most accomplished tournament player with over $1.5 million in earnings, according to the Hendon Mob. His only other cash in 2023 was a fourth-place finish at this year’s PokerGO Tour PLO series for $207,500. Lee won a WSOP bracelet in 2011 in the $2,500 10-Game tournament and he was the runner-up in the 2017 $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha event.
Nguyen returns with a long list of tournament accomplishments and this is his biggest score—a prize that will move him to just short of $400,000 in lifetime earnings. This is also Nguyen’s second WPT cash of the year after a run to 12th in the $10,000 Deep Stack at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. Lachman, the short stack, is also cashing the largest check of his poker-playing life, but this is his second deep charge at a WPT Main Event after a run to 27th in the 2016 Legends of Poker.
Deluca will enter the final day with the second shortest stack, but he brings with him a long list of cashing finishes on the L.A. tournament scene. He’s also among those picking up his biggest win yet, but he has tallied over $320,000 in tournament winnings in tournaments all over Los Angeles.
The final six players will reconvene on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Vegas time to play down to a winner. All of the action will be featured on the WPT livestream with a 30-minute security delay beginning at 4:30 p.m.
*Images courtesy of WPT.
Las Vegas-based PokerNews Live Reporting Executive, originally from Chicago, IL