Simone Andrian Mounts an Incredible Comeback to Win the Merit Poker Western Series $2,200 Warm Up
If you just started at the beginning and simply fast forward to the end, you would think Simone Andrians victory today in the Merit Poker Western Series $2,200 Warm Up was simply a coronation. He began the day as chip leader and ended as the champion. But the reality was far different, as the Italian pro, like the gunslingers in famous Western movies, had to fight and battle for everything he earned.
It was only fitting that Andrian defeated Kuwaits Abdullah Alajmi heads-up to win the title. The two players dominated the tournament, ending Days 2 and 3 first and second on the leaderboard, then becoming the last two standing. And it was Andrian who wound up on top, adding a prestigious Merit Poker title and $165,000 top prize to a career thats already featured some spectacular successes in a short time.
$2,200 Warm Up Final Table Results
At the start of November 2021, Andrian had just one live recorded cash on his resume. Since then, hes won a WSOP bracelet, a WPT event, and a UKIPT title. He also made a deep run in the WPT World Championship in Las Vegas last month, finishing in 29th place in that massive field for $129,000. His win today moves him past $1,000,000 in career live earnings. Hes quickly establishing himself as one of the top players in his nation, a fact he attributes to his dedicated study of the game.
Im working constantly. Right now Im playing less online, but Im still studying and all that stuff. I love to study the theory of the game, he said following his victory.
Andrians path to the title was far from smooth. While he started the day as chip leader, he was knocked down to just six big blinds at one point during the final table and had to claw his way back to the top, winning several all ins along the way. Doing it that way made the victory feel even more special.
It was such a strange run, especially today. Yesterday was pretty smooth. I was chip leader by far. But today was definitely a roller coaster. I was chip leader, then I got shorter. I think I started the final table in third or fourth. Then I was short, then middling stack. I went all the stages: short, midstack, chip leader, he said.
For sure its a different feeling. Its different when youre chip leader and just putting pressure on everyone. This is more emotional, for sure."
Day 4 Action
Day 4 began with 17 remaining players out of a starting field of 446. Andrian and Alajmi were in a familiar spot, occupying the top two places on the leaderboard and controlling nearly a third of the chips in play between them.
Andrian took an early hit when Andrei Daniliuk doubled up on the river with ace-king against pocket jacks. Antoine Hasbani was the first elimination of the day, losing with king-queen against Qusai Albakeers ace-nine to finish in 17th place.
Andrian recovered from that early double up when he won a big pot off Baurzhan Akimov. Both players made trip kings, but Andrian rivered a full house as Akimov managed to get away on the river and save his last 1,600,000. Andrian crossed 10,000,000 when he raised all in on the river with a pair of aces and got Daniliuk to fold a flopped set of queens.
After only one bustout through the first two levels of the day, the pace of eliminations quickened sharply after the break. Nina Krasilnikova was eliminated in 16th place by George Panagides, while Adrian State took out John Basta in 15th with ace-queen against queen-jack. Ermanno Di Nicola fell in 14th, shortly after he doubled up Akimov and was left with just 200,000.
Azamat Tulepbergenov got his last 425,000 in the middle with queens, but Andrea Dato spiked an ace on the flop to send him to the rail in 13th. Dato also eliminated a short-stacked Yuefan Gu in 12th. On the bubble of the final table, Sari Haddad was all in for 975,000 with a dominating king against State, but State flopped trip eights to bust Haddad in 11th. At virtually the same time on the outer table, Alajmi made a flush to crack the queens of Guoliang Wei and eliminate the WSOP bracelet winner in 10th.
Alajmi held a massive chip lead at the start of the final table with 12,775,000, more than double State in second place. Andrian began in fourth place, part of a group crowded in the middle of the pack that included Fahredin Mustafov, Dato, and Daniliuk.
Albakeer was eliminated on the second hand of the final table when he shoved for 2,525,000 with ace-queen but Daniliuk called with ace-king. Panagides and Andrian then played a coin flip for more than 6,500,000. Panagides spiked an ace on the turn to beat Andrians pocket nines and leave the former chip leader with just ten big blinds.
Andrians luck turned around a few hands later when he raised to 1,300,000 with just 300,000 behind. Dato called and Andrian got his last chips in on the flop with a pair of jacks. Dato, though, had a pair of kings but Andrian spiked two pair on the turn to double up and leave Dato as an extreme short stack. Dato was eliminated in eighth place the next hand by Akimov.
For most of the final table, it seemed like Alajmi couldnt miss as he continued to accumulate chips and pull away from the pack. Panagides found that out when Alajmi turned two pair to beat his pair of aces and bust the native Cypriot in seventh place.
Andrian doubled up again when he won a classic coin flip with ace-king against Akimovs queens. Akimov then got his last 2,150,000 in the middle with ace-queen and dominated States ace-jack, but State spiked a jack on the flop to eliminate Akimov in sixth place. State also eliminated Mustafov in fifth after turning a straight with ace-queen as he seemed primed to challenge Alajmis chip lead.
Whatever progress Andrian had made climbing back into contention was quickly undone when he called Daniliuks shove for 3,075,000 with ace-ten. Daniliuk had queen-jack but paired his queen on the turn to win the pot and double up. Left with just six big blinds, Andrian shoved for 875,000 a few hands later with jack-five. Daniliuk called with king-eight and Andrian managed to pair his jack to win the pot and begin his comeback.
Andrian then bluff-shoved with just ace-high and got State to fold a pair with straight and flush draws as Andrian climbed back up over 7,000,000. He then eliminated Daniliuk in fourth place when he paired his three on the flop to get back over 10,000,000. Andrian narrowed the gap with Alajmi further when Alajmi turned a straight, but Andrian rivered a flush with pocket queens to win a massive pot. He then took the chip lead for the first time at the final table when he bet 1,200,000 with two pair and Alajmi called with pocket eights.
State had fallen to the short stack when he committed most of his chips with king-deuce. Andrian moved all in with ace-king and State called off the rest of his stack as he finished in third place. Alajmi took a slight chip lead over Andrian into heads-up play, holding 23,025,000 to 21,600,000.
The two plyers remained virtually tied and exchanged the lead numerous times until the hand that proved to be the pivotal point of the tournament. Andrian three-bet to 5,000,000 and Alajmi called. Andrian then moved all in for 16,500,000 on an eight-high flop and Alajmi tanked for several minutes before calling with a pair of eights. Andrian, though, had two kings and doubled up to take a commanding chip lead, one hand already around the trophy. Alajmi was left with just 725,000 and was eliminated the next hand with ace-deuce against ace-jack. Andrian paired his jack on the flop and Alajmi was left drawing dead by the turn.
All the dealers dressed up as cowboys, the horses in the middle of the room, and the decor of the Merit Crystal Cove Hotel and Casino evoked an image of the old Wild West that is kept alive through movies and television. It is one that survives now only in story form. And today at the final table, nobody told a better story than Andrian.
That concludes PokerNews coverage of the Merit Poker Western Series Warm Up. Stay tuned for more coverage of the High Roller and Main Event that kicks off tomorrow.
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