Alexander Yen Picks the Right Time to Win His First Tournament, Earning $975,240 and a WPT Title

2022 Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Hollywood, Florida
$3,500 WPT LHPO Championship
$2,000,000 Guaranteed
Entries:  1,982
Prize Pool:  $6,342,400
January 20-26, 2022

Alex Yen
WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Champion Alexander Yen

On Wednesday evening, Alexander Yen outlasted the second largest field in World Poker Tour history to earn his own place in history as the 2022 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open champion, winning $975,240 and getting his name engraved on the one-and-only Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup.

“It feels absolutely incredible,” said Yen. “I’ve never won a live tournament before. I don’t even think I’ve won online, so this is a pretty unreal feeling.”

There were 1,982 entries in this event, more than tripling the $2 million guarantee to create a prizepool worth more than $6.3 million.

The final table began with the final six players, and they played for nearly an hour before the first elimination. Omar Lakhdari moved all in with KsQs, but couldn’t outrace the 9d9c of Daniel Lazrus, who flopped a set of nines. Lakhdari was out in sixth place, earning $208,025.

The next elimination was a surprise, as Josh Kay came into the final table with the second largest chip stack (91 big blinds!), but about 90 minutes into the final table, Kay hit a horrible streak where nothing seemed to go right. Kay lost an all-in-preflop race against Nicholas Verderamo, followed almost immediately by losing a preflop race against Anton Wigg. Eventually, Kay got it all in with AcJc, but it failed to hold up against Wigg’s KdQh with two queens on the flop, and Kay was out in fifth place, earning $272,830.

Verderamo began the final table as the short stack, but he moved up two spots in the payouts before he shoved Ad8s into Yen’s QsQd. The queens held up to eliminate Verderamo in fourth place, where he earned $361,130.

At that point, Daniel Lazrus was the clear short stack, struggling to tread water at the bottom of the leaderboard. Lazrus scored some small double-ups, but never seemed to get above 20 big blinds. Eventually, Lazrus got it all in with 6s6c against Yen’s KdJs, but a jack on the flop ended his tournament in third place, where Lazrus earned $482,380.

Yen began heads-up play with 2.6x as many chips as Wigg, though they were both quite deep, and Wigg could be patient with 54 big blinds in his stack. Wigg also had experience on his side, with nearly $3.3 million in career earnings, most of it coming in no-limit hold’em.

“He’s an incredible player,” said Yen about Wigg. “I don’t play very much hold’em. Most of my experience right now is Omaha cash, so he definitely had the skill advantage.”

Wigg nearly evened things up when Yen bluffed all in after a flop of 10s8h6d with KcQh, but Wigg called him with Ad10c — top pair, top kicker — and it held up. Yen still had the lead, but not by much.

Wigg did take the heads-up chip lead at one point, but he held it for less than 10 minutes before Yen took it back.

Then they built up a sizable pot on a board of QhJd4s2c10d, and Wigg made a big bet on the river. Yen called with Jc8c for second pair, and it was good — Wigg had been bluffing with 7h2s.

That pot gave Yen a 2-to-1 chip lead again, and the tournament would end about 10 minutes later when, in Yen’s own words, “I hit the dream flop and won.”

Yen limped, Wigg raised with QdQc, and Yen called. The flop of 10d8c6c looked safe for Wigg’s queens, but little did he know that Yen had 9c7c, and flopped a straight with a straight-flush draw.

Wigg shoved the 6d turn, not knowing he had only four outs to stay alive. Yen snap-called, and the 4d on the river gave Yen the Championship.

Wigg earned $650,180 for second place, while Yen’s first prize of $975,240 more than tripled all of his career earnings before this.

So what does Yen plan to do with this windfall?

“I really don’t know yet,” said Yen. “Maybe a little real estate, a little investing, and a little fun.”

Alex Yen
WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Champion Alexander Yen with Seminole Hard Rock Poker Staff

Final Table Results:

1st:  Alex Yen  –  $975,240
2nd:  Anton Wigg  –  $650,180
3rd:  Daniel Lazrus  –  $482,380
4th:  Nicholas Verderamo  –  $361,130
5th:  Josh Kay  –  $272,830
6th:  Omar Lakhdari  –  $208,025