Chad Eveslage is batting a thousand at live final tables in 2021. The poker pro from Muncie, Indiana has now made three Card Player Player of the Year qualified final tables this year and has managed to come away with the title each and every time. Eveslage’s latest triumph came in the 2021 World Poker Tour Venetian $5,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event. Eveslage outlasted the massive field of 1,199 entries in the event to secure his first WPT main tour title and the top prize of $910,370.
“This whole tournament I kept going all in and winning,” Eveslage told WPT reporters when asked about his victory. “I think I’m really good but anybody would have won with my luck. It feels like I’m in the Twilight Zone, where the guy is in the casino and he can’t lose.”
In addition to the title and the money, Eveslage was also awarded 1,920 POY points as the champion of this event. He had previously won a $1,100 buy-in no-limit hold’em side event at the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open series to earn $101,572 and 840 points back in January. He went on to take down the $25,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em high roller event at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown festival for another $767,576 and 1,008 points. With his hat-trick of titles, Eveslage has shot up the rankings and into second place on the 2021 POY leaderboard, which is sponsored by Global Poker.
The final day of this event began with Eveslage atop the leaderboard. Arguably the story of the final table was the fact that three female players made the top six, a feat that had not been achieved in the 19-year history of the WPT prior to this event. Kyna England, Daniela Rodriguez, and Kitty Kuo were the three shortest stacks to start the day, but they all had a shot at becoming the second female player to win an open WPT main tour event, following in the footsteps of 2017 WPT Playground $3,500 CAD no-limit hold’em main event champion Ema Zajmovic.
Kitty Kuo was ultimately the first to fall. The Taiwanese poker pro was hoping to improve on her second-place finish in the 2018 WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic main event for $248,380, but lost two big hands early to hit the rail just a few orbits into the final table. Kuo lost with pocket jacks facing ace-ten suited to fall to the bottom of the chip counts, and shortly after that was all-in with K4 and called in two spots. Eveslage ended up making top pair with his J10 to eliminate Kuo in sixth place ($192,855). The score increased her career tournament earnings to just shy of $2.5 million.
Daniela Rodriguez was the short stack to start the day. She got off to a strong start, as she was the player who doubled through Kuo’s pocket jacks. Despite that early win, Rodriguez was the next player to be knocked out. She got her last chips in the middle in a classic race situation, with her AK up against the 66 of Eveslage. The flop brought a six to give Eveslage a set and a big lead, which he never relinquished. Rodriguez earned $252,945 for her fifth-place showing in this event.
2021 L.A. Poker Classic main event winner Mike Liang entered the final table with just a few big blinds less than Eveslage, who then opened up a lead after scoring the first couple knockouts of the day. Liang overtook the lead without sending any opponents to the rail. Shortly after moving into the top spot, Liang earned his first elimination at the final table when his AJ beat out the Q10 of Timothy McDermott, who shoved for around 12.5 big blinds when it folded it him in the small blind. Liang called from the big blind and made aces and fives by the river to send McDermott packing in fourth place ($335,200). Liang took a sizable lead into three-handed play as a result.
Kyna England’s run in this event came to an end when she ran A8 into the pocket tens of Eveslage. England picked up the nut flush draw on the turn, but failed to improve any further on the river and was eliminated in third place ($448,755). This was by far the largest score of her tournament career, surpassing the $73,782 she earned as the third-place finisher in the Mid-States Poker Tour Riverside $1,100 main event earlier this year.
Heads-up play began with the two players within a handful of big blinds of each other, with each having more than 117 big blinds when their final showdown began. It took just two hands for the decisive pot of the tournament to take place. Eveslage raised to 500,000 from the button with Q9. Liang three-bet from the big blind to 1,850,000. Eveslage called and the flop came down J1010. Liang bet 1,300,000 with his flopped trips and Eveslage called with his open-ended straight draw. The K on the turn saw Liang bet 3,500,000. Eveslage called with his turned straight. The 8 river elicited an all-in shove from Liang, and Eveslage called for his tournament life with his king-high straight to beat Liang’s trips and secure the massive pot.
Liang was left with just 11 big blinds after the hand. Liang managed one double up, but was ultimately eliminated as the runner-up when his A9 ran into the pocket queens of Eveslage. The board came down K43J8 and Liang was awarded $606,890 for his second-place showing.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
Photo credits: World Poker Tour / Joe Giron.