Markus Gonsalves Wins WPT Gardens Poker Championship After Year’s Delay


A planned delay of a couple of months stretched into more than a year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Championship has at long last crowned a winner in its $10,000 Main Event.

Instead of clear favorite and chip leader Chance Kornuth, it was Markus Gonsalves who emerged as champion at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas. Gonsalves dominated down the stretch until a tough heads-up match with Tuan Phan before he locked up $554,495 and first major title.

“I think I’ve come close once or twice before so it feels nice to finally win one,” said Gonsalves, who had two other top-10 finishes on tour. “All my friends have them. That’s going to be great to troll Phil [Hellmuth], that’s for sure.

“I honestly don’t play that many tournaments compared to these other guys, I play mostly cash games. But I’ll come out for the bigger ones, maybe I’ll start playing a little more.”

Official Final Table Results

Place Player Home Country Prize
1 Markus Gonsalves U.S.A. $554,495
2 Tuan Phan U.S.A. $359,650
3 Jonathan Cohen U.S.A. $263,090
4 Chance Kornuth U.S.A. $195,085
5 Straton Wilhelm U.S.A. $146,655
6 Qing Liu U.S.A. $111,795

Liu Fails to Secure Two Titles in Two Days

There was no shortage of storylines at the final table, with a big one building up the day in advance thanks to the incredible recent results of Qing Liu. His run peaked with a victory in WPT Venetian, which followed up several months of crushing other Venetian events including two victories worth nearly a combined $200K.

Unfortunately for Liu, he’d be the victim of an early bad beat to fall in sixth after coming in with the second-shortest stack. According to the live updates, he defended his big blind three way and led into the field for 100,000, a little under half the pot, on {q-Spades}{5-Spades}{3-Clubs}. Both preflop raiser Phan and Kornuth called him, and Liu checked the {2-Diamonds}. Phan bet 350,000, Kornuth folded, and Liu shoved for 755,000. Phan called him.

Phan: {k-Hearts}{k-Clubs}
Liu: {5-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}

Liu was in a good spot to double and gun for a second straight title, but the board paired with a queen on the river to doom him.

Qing Liu
Liu took the beat in stride (c/o WPT)

Kornuth Slides, Busts

Straton Wilhelm busted the very next hand, also to Phan, moving him into the chip lead. Wilhelm had come in with the shortest stack by some distance holding about 15 big blinds, so he had to be pleased with laddering for about $35K.

That vaulted Phan into the lead over Gonsalves and Kornuth, who had been trading off the top spot early.

Gonsalves began taking over about 45 hands in, moving up past 4 million in chips while the other players all hovered around 2 million.

Kornuth eventually slipped to the shortest stack of above 20 big blinds, and he found a good spot to get them in with a limp that induced a blind-versus-blind shove by Gonsalves. Kornuth had an easy call with pocket sixes and dominated Gonsalves’ {a-Diamonds}{5-Clubs} but an ace on the flop sent him packing in fourth in what had to be a disappointing finish for the popular pro.

Long Heads-Up Match

Jonathan Cohen had quietly secured a couple of ladders but his run ended when he got coolered with nines against the tens of Gonsalves.

Gonsalves had accumulated more and more chips in advance of that hand, and afterward, he had about a 5-to-1 lead against Phan with more than 140 big blinds in his stack. It looked like a matter of time, but Phan wouldn’t go down easily.

There wasn’t a ton of movement in the first couple of hours as Phan grabbed one double in a flip but it only enabled him to stay afloat.

The comeback got rolling around two hours in when Phan limped off about 14 blinds and Gonsalves shoved with {q-Clubs}{6-Clubs}. Phan called with a dominating {a-Clubs}{6-Spades} and doubled up. He then worked his way into the chip lead after about 70 hands and almost three hours of play.

“I feel like he ran really well against me heads up,” Gonsalves said. “I was getting frustrated, when he took the chip lead from me I started to get frustrated. I was more tired than anything.”

There was only about 50 big blinds in play by then, so when Phan opened up a 2-to-1 lead, Gonsalves was still able to turn things around in a hurry. He doubled into a small lead with {a-Clubs}{10-Hearts} over {q-Clubs}{6-Clubs} then flopped a flush versus two pair in a limped pot. Phan check-raised all in on the turn and missed on the river.

Five hands after he’d been significantly down in chips, Gonsalves had the trophy.

“It feels good to get it over,” he said. “It feels good to win.”

Lead photo courtesy of WPT



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