David Peters pulled out his 2019 U.S. Poker Open Championship victory with a come-from-behind victory, winning the final tournament of the series to unseat points leader Sean Winter with a buzzer-beating title run. The USPO wasn’t held during the live poker shutdown of 2020, which made Peters the defending champion when the high-stakes tournament series returned with a 12-event high roller festival in June of 2021. The 34-year-old Las Vegas-based poker pro went on a tear during the second half of the series, winning three titles and making four final tables in a five-day span to give himself the lead with one event remaining. This time around, Peters was the player hoping to hold onto a lead while a player at the final table of the closing event looked to unseat him. Sam Soverel needed a win to overcome Peters, but ultimately finished fifth to see Peters lock up the back-to-back USPO championship victories. For the win, he was awarded $50,000 in added prize money and the Golden Eagle Trophy.
“It feels great. Especially going back-to-back after winning last time. It feels great to do well versus so many great players and it was a very exciting week,” said Peters not long after securing the win. “It’s something that’ll be really cool to look back on someday, to remember that I had back-to-back trophies like this. It’s pretty exciting.”
Peters cashed for $832,950 across his four in-the-money finishes of the series, and managed to win a quarter of the events that were played in the 12-event series that ran from June 3-15.
Peters didn’t play every single event on the schedule, instead opting to skip the mixed games and one of the two pot-limit Omaha offerings. He didn’t cash in any of the first six events of the series, but emerged victorious from a field of 99 entries to win event no. 7, a $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament. He earned $217,800 and 218 USPO points for his victory in that event, which was the largest ever field in a USPO tournament. The day after that win, he finished eighth in the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha event for another $25,200 and 25 USPO points.
Peters did not cash in event no. 9 on the following day, but got back in the winners circle just a day later by emerging victorious from a field of 27 entries in the $10,000 short deck tournament. He added $124,200 and 124 USPO points for his second title of the series and hopped straight into late registration for the lone $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament of the series. Peters went on to defeat the field of 69 entries to earn $465,750 and 279 USPO points. This win catapulted him ahead of then-leader Ali Imsirovic, who had five final-table finishes and one title during the series.
“It’s been a crazy week. I actually ran pretty well. I haven’t played live poker in over a year and a half, but it feels good to be back. It was good to jump back in there, playing against all these great players that I’ve battled with all these years. It was a very fun week and obviously things went well and I’m happy to win.”
After an extended break from live poker, Peters was happy to get back to the high-stakes live events that have helped him establish himself as one of the most consistent players in the game.
“I definitely missed it. I hadn’t gone that long without playing live poker since I was 18 or whatever,” said Peters. “So it was definitely fun and exciting to get back in there and see all these familiar faces.”
Peters now has more than $35.4 million in career tournament earnings, good for sixth place on poker’s all-time money list. The two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner finished inside the top 50 in the Card Player Player of the Year race seven times from 2010 to 2020, with a win in 2016 and four other finishes of 13th or higher. When asked about how important awards and titles are to him, Peters said, “Probably not nearly as important as [that kind of thing] is to someone like Hellmuth or maybe a lot of people, but it’s nice having those accolades or kind of securing your legacy or just having those memories to look back on when I’m 70. I can look back and think about how cool that was [to achieve]. It means something to me, for sure.”
When asked how he has been able to be a top tournament player, year-in and year-out for the last decade, Peters noted his hunger for greatness.
“I think just my work ethic, my passion for the game. Just, never losing that drive to get better and better and better and just compete at the highest level,” he offered. “I think that has never really faded away. So that’s kept me very fresh and very motivated to keep battling and grinding.”
Peters’ success at the USPO has put him in contention in the PokerGO Tour standings, with his 646 rankings points good for sixth place in the standings. Peters got a later start than some of the competition, but is planning on trying to make up for lost time.
“I think I’m going to play a lot. I missed a good chunk of the PokerGO Tour the last couple of months, but I’m ready to get back in there and grind a lot of these and hopefully I can accumulate some points and catch Ali [Imsirovic]. He has a huge lead right now in that but we’ll see what happens.”
While waiting to see if Soverel could surpass him in the final event of the USPO, Peters registered for a $25,000 buy-in event that was not part of the series schedule, but was thrown together due to sufficient demand. Even after a grueling week of high-stakes battling, Peters was more than ready to hop in for another round.
“Yeah, I’m still hungry. I still enjoy competing and I still enjoy the battle and I have a very hard time not coming in and jumping in on $25k when it’s down the street,” said Peters when asked about the non-stop action of this series. “I still enjoy it. I still love the game.”
David Peters 2021 U.S. Poker Open Scores:
|Event No. 7 – $10,000 no-limit hold’em||1||218||$217,800|
|Event No. 8 – $10,000 pot-limit Omaha||8||25||$25,200|
|Event No. 10 – $10,000 short deck||1||124||$124,200|
|Event No. 11 – $25,000 no-limit hold’em||1||279||$465,750|
Here is a look at the top ten in the final USPO points standings: