The 2021 WPTDeepStacks Venetian $2,400 buy-in no-limit hold’em event drew a field of 1,512 total entries, blowing away the $2 million guarantee to create a final prize pool of $3,288,600. In the end, the lion’s share of that money was awarded to Albert Knafo, who earned $532,395 as the champion of this event.
The 38-year-old was born in Netanya, Israel but has called Los Angeles home for the past six years. This was his first major live tournament title and the largest score of his career. His previous top cash came in the recent Mid-States Poker Tour Venetian $1,100 buy-in event held in June. Knafo finished third in that event for $177,695.
Knafo’s recent victory saw him secure 1,080 Card Player Player of the Year points. He had previously earned 800 for his MSPT final-table showing. As a result of these two big scores at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas, Knafo now sits in 25th place in the 2021 POY race standings, which are sponsored by Global Poker.
The final day of this event began with 29 players remaining and Shawn Daniels in the lead. Knafo sat in seventh chip position when cards got in the air. The two survived to the final table of nine, alongside four-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Eli Elezra. Belgian poker pro Thomas Boivin ran pocket eights into the pocket kings of Austin Srur to hit the rail in ninth place ($54,280). Marc Bernal followed shortly after when his pocket kings were unable to hold up against the A-J of Steven Sarmiento. Bernal was awarded $72,350 as the eighth-place finisher.
Shawn Daniels’ run in this event concluded when his flopped queen-high flush draw clashed with a set of threes for Srur. Daniels made his flush on the turn, but Srur improved to quads on the river to send the start-of-day leader home with $91,865.
Eli Elezra was the next to fall. He got all-in with AK and was racing against the pocket tens of Sarmiento. Neither player improved by the river and Elezra was eliminated in sixth place ($112,235).
Knafo earned his first knockout of the final table when his A9 bested the K10 of James Gilbert in a preflop all-in confrontation. Gilbert was unable to come from behind and settled for $139,180 as the fifth-place finisher.
The field was narrowed to three when Doug Lada’s pocket sevens lost a are to Sarmiento’s AQ. Sarmiento made trip aces by the river to bust Lada in fourth place ($185,275).
Austin Srur’s stack dwindled to the point that he was left with just more then seven big blinds at the start of his final hand. He shoved with K-J and received a call from Kanfo’s K-Q. Knafo made a flush with a single heart in his hand and four on the board to eliminate Srur in third place ($249,375).
Heads-up play began with Sarmiento holding 28,050,000 to Knafo’s 17,350,000. The two traded the lead a few times, but were nearly even when the final hand began. Knafo, who had his opponent covered by just a few big blinds, three-bet Sarmiento’s open raise to 4.2 million. Sarmiento four-bet to 10 million and Knafo called. The flop came down Q96 and Knafo moved all in. Sarmiento snap-called and showed QQ for top set. Knafo held J10 for an open-ended straight draw. The 2 on the turn changed nothing, but the 8 on the river gae Knafo a queen-high straight to secure the pot and the title. Sarmiento was awarded $383,595 as the runner-up finisher.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
|7||Shawn R. Daniels||$91,865||270|
Photo credit: WPT / Enrique Malfavon/