In August of 2011, Joshua Pollock made his first major poker tournament final table in the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker main event, finishing fourth for the first six-figure payday of his career. Since that deep run, he has gone on to have plenty of success on the circuit, including winning two World Series of Poker gold bracelets.
Almost 11 years to the day since making that first WPT final table, Pollock once again made it down to the final six players in the 2022 WPT Legends of Poker $5,250 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event. This time around, he was able to close out the win, emerging victorious from a field of 642 entries at the Parkwest Bicycle Casino near Los Angeles to earn his first WPT title and the top prize of $573,350.
“This tournament was a dream,” Pollock told WPT reporters after coming out on top. “I ran okay on day one and just ran super well on day two, especially on the last level. I went from one of the bottom stacks to chip leader. Probably this is the best I’ve ever run in a tournament.”
This was the largest score of Pollock’s career, and it saw him increase his lifetime tournament earnings to just shy of $2 million. The victory also saw him secure 1,680 Card Player Player of the Year points. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year, but it alone was enough to catapult him inside the top 150 in the 2022 POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker.
This event ran from Aug. 27 through Sep. 1. A total of 642 entries were made across the three starting flights, surpassing the $2.5 million guarantee to build a prize pool of $3,113,700. The top 81 finishers made the money, with notables among those who made it deep including two-time WPT champion J.C. Tran (36th), WPT winner Ryan Tosoc (35th), bracelet winner Stephen Song (21st), WPT champion Nam Le (20th), two-time bracelet winner Michael Wang (19th), and 2013 champion of this event Jordan Cristos (11th).
The final day began with just six players remaining and six-time WPT final tablist Ray Qartomy in the lead. Adam Hendrix was the clear short stack with 11 big blinds to start. He found a double-up on the second deal of the day but was still the first to fall.
Just three hands after doubling, Hendrix moved all-in on a 1042J board with AK for a royal flush draw. He received a quick call from 2019 WPT Venetian main event winner Matthew Wantman, who rolled over 44 for a set of fours. The 3 on the river was a blank and Hendrix was eliminated in sixth place, earning $119,000 for his deep run. This was Hendrix’s ninth final-table finish of the year, with two titles won and more than $1 million in year-to-date earnings. With 4,049 total POY points he now sits in 9th place in the overall standings.
The next elimination took place just three hands after Hendrix was sent packing. Wantman min-raised to 300,000 from the cutoff and Lei Lei moved all in for approximately 2,100,000 from the big blind. Wantman snap-called with KK. Lei showed AJ. Wantman flopped a set of kings and held from there to narrow the field to four. Lei earned a career-best payday of $156,000 for his fifth-place showing.
The knockout spree was not yet concluded, though. The 11th hand of the day saw Aaron Motoyama min-raise from under the gun with 99. Pollock called from the big blind with Q10 and the flop brought the 832. Pollock check-raised all-in over the minimum continuation bet of Motoyama, who called all-in with a single big blind fewer than Pollock and his overpair to the board. Pollock improved to a pair of queens on the Q turn, leaving Motoyama in dire straights with one card coming. The 8 was no help and Motoyama was eliminated in fourth place ($207,000). This was his largest score ever on the tournament circuit. It increased his lifetime earnings to more than $1.2 million.
Three-handed play began with the final trio all within striking distance of each other, and all sitting on more than 65 big blinds. Given that, it took markedly longer for the next elimination hand to arrive.
As short-handed action continued, Wantman began to fall behind the rest of the pack. On the 80th hand of the day, he shoved his last five big blinds preflop with A-2 suited from the small blind. Pollock woke up with A-9 suited in the big blind and flopped a nine to leave Wantman drawing slim. The turn and river didn’t bring the required miracle for Wantman and he was sent home in third place ($280,000). This was his seventh final-table appearance of the year. With $844,666 in POY earnings so far this year and 2,778 points, he now sits in 33rd place in the POY race heading into the final third of the year.
After knocking out Wantman in third, Pollock took better than a 3:2 chip lead into heads-up play with Qartomy, who was at his sixth career WPT final table and second of this year, having also placed third in the WPT Choctaw main event earlier in 2022. Qartomy was able to battle his way into the lead during the early heads-up action, but Pollock eventually re-established himself on top of the leaderboard. Soon, Pollock had stretched his advantage to 2:1.
In the final hand, Pollock raised to 1,300,000 from the button with 88 while the pair were playing 250,000-500,000 limits with a big blind ante of 500,000. Qartomy three-bet shoved for 10,600,000 from the big blind with A8. Pollock quickly called with his pocket pair and the board came down 954JQ to secure the pot and the title for Pollock. Qartomy earned $380,000 as the runner-up, the second-largest score of his career. He now has more than $5.1 million in lifetime cashes to his name.
Qartomy was also awarded 1,400 POY points, enough to see him move into 57th place on the POY leaderboard when combined with the 912 he took home for his third-place finish at Choctaw earlier this year.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
Photo credits: Joe Giron / World Poker Tour.