Two of the greatest performers in World Poker Tour history — Chino Rheem and Darren Elias — reached the finals of the $25,000 buy-in PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown Saturday, with the former coming out victorious for $400,000.
The two finalists were joined by Isaac Kempton and Justin Young in the semifinals. Elias clipped Kempton and Rheem took out Young to set up the fifth and final round. Both semifinalists received $100,000 as a consolation prize.
Two Greats Go at It
Elias and Rheem were already off to strong starts to 2022 prior to the heads-up event in Las Vegas. They had combined for over $1.2 million in cashes this year entering the tournament.
In the final round, Elias jumped to a sizable early lead, extending his starting stack from 250,000 to over 300,000 quickly. But his opponent would turn it around and win a 340,000-chip pot with top pair on an all in bet that Elias, holding second pair, couldn't fold.
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With the blinds at 3,000/6,000, Elias decided to take a stand with and moved all in on the button for 70,000. Rheem quickly called with . The board ran out , putting an end to the 32-player heads-up no-limit hold'em tournament.
The champion took home $400,000, and second place earned $200,000 of the $800,000 prize pool. Both players shook hands and then PokerGO's Jeff Platt interviewed the participants.
"It's really special, my hats off to Darren, he played great," Rheem said in his post-game interview. "We went back and forth. Me and Darren have known each other for a long time, and we're both very instinctual players. We both made some bad calls against each other. That's because we get sticky with each other when we have pairs."
Success Outside the WPT
The finalists both have an extensive history of WPT success, but also elsewhere. Rheem now has over $12.3 million in live tournament cashes according to Hendon Mob, and Elias nearly hit the $10 million mark.
Back in March, Rheem won a $15,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha event at the US Poker Open for $271,350, and took second for $210,000 in a $15,000 no-limit hold'em tournament in the same series.
While these two have impressive results in various tournaments around the world, including the World Series of Poker, they'll forever be attached to World Poker Tour greatness.
Elias holds the WPT record with four titles, but he will go for his fifth next month in Las Vegas when the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown final table resumes. He'll enter that final table with the chip lead and is already guaranteed at least $215,000, but would receive over $1 million if he were to win his fifth title.
Elias also extended his record to 13 WPT final table appearances and ranks 10th all-time in World Poker Tour career earnings, although he could crack the top five should he win at the May 25th final table.
Rheem is one of just seven players to reach three WPT titles. He ranks eighth with just under $4.1 million in earnings and has made five final table appearances.
Two of the best World Poker Tour performers battled it out for the PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown crown, and this time around it was the man they call Chino taking it down.
*Images courtesy of PokerGO.
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