It was a red-letter day in the career of Andy Wilson as he outlasted 1540 other entrants in the World Poker Tour (WPT) Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open (RRPO) $3,500 Main Event at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Not only did the Englishman best a huge field, he also crushed the endgame of the tournament versus some of the game’s very best exponents.
he put on a masterclass to claim the $785,800 first prizeAdvertisement
Wilson enjoyed a massive chip lead on the final table but he met stiff opposition in the form of two-time WPT winner and recent Five Diamond winner Chad Eveslage, LAPT Bahamas winner Josh Kay, three-time WPT champion Brian Altman and the tournament’s defending champion Gediminas Uselis. Undeterred, he put on a masterclass to claim the $785,800 first prize plus a seat in the upcoming WPT World Poker Championship in the Wynn.
The result more than doubles Wilson’s lifetime live tournament winnings but a score of this magnitude has been on the cards. He has been notching up the victories and climbing the stakes online for several years. Also, in the past year, he has been knocking on the door of a big live result with deep finishes at the World Series of Poker and on the European Poker Tour.
I met Andy Wilson for the first time at a Unibet UK Tour event in late 2018. His reputation as an up-and-coming online player came before him and after fifteen minutes of chatting with him, one thing was instantly clear to me — he was the real deal with a quality and clarity of thought like very few players I have ever met.
Over the next couple of years, Wilson continued to develop as a player. While others paid lip service to the importance of ‘getting into the lab’, he practiced what he preached, working with solvers, deciphering population tendencies and figuring out heuristics. He transformed himself from talented dynamo to consistent crusher.
A disciple of GTO and in many ways, the poster-boy for the DTO Poker Trainer, the results started to pour in for Wilson. In August 2020, ‘BowieEffect’ came second in a $400 online bracelet event for $170,000. Then in 2021, he won a SCOOP title in the $2100 PKO for $160,000.
There was more online success in 2022 but the ambitious Wilson was keen to put down a marker in live poker. He’d got a little taste at the 2021 WSOP when he came second in the $1000 Turbo Event for $100,000, but a marque live win still eluded him. Another bridesmaid finish in a side event at EPT Prague banked him €50,000 ($52,172) but the real frustration would come at EPT Barcelona.
Having enjoyed the chip lead with 18 left in both the Estrellas and EPT Main Events, Wilson finished 11th and 10th respectively. On a recent episode of The Chip Race, Wilson confessed to finding those Spanish crossbars frustrating. However, there had always been a certain inevitability to him closing out a big one. I played on his table deep in the Estrellas and whether you are a believer or not, his ruthlessly aggressive style puts the fear of God in you.
VegasSlotsOnline News spoke with Wilson ahead of the WPT Florida final table, enquiring to what extent he planned on taking out the kinky ICM handcuffs versus his shorter-stacked opponents.
“I think it could be quite the spectacle. I’m going to play many hands and wager many chips many times over.” He added:
It’s gonna be fun to dance with these guys.”
Wilson is a burdensome opponent under normal conditions. With all the additional pressure his stack could wield, he was a nightmare.
Ashes to Ashes
The bust-outs came thick and fast on the penultimate day, with 16 players being whittled down to six in just over five hours. Nick Verderamo, Joey DiPascale, Dung Nguyen, Jacob Dolehanty, Phong Nguyen, Denys Shafikov and Steve Karp all hit the rail, and the remaining players came together for the unofficial final table.
It wasn’t long before Andy Wilson asserted his dominance, his Ace-King overcoming the pocket Queens of Ted McNamara. Next to bow out, again at the hands of Wilson, was the short-stacked Ryan Dougherty.
Then, in the final hand of the day, Wilson opened Jack-Eight and was pot-committed when Eric Bonin jammed his pocket Kings for seven big blinds. Two Jacks on the flop and that’s all she wrote for the unfortunate Bonin, who took $129,000 for his seventh-place finish.
When David Bowie was asked about the lyric “put on your red shoes and dance the blues,” he said that he was talking about the conceptual dance of not being honest, like pretending to be happy when you’re sad. That sounds an awful lot like poker, pretending to be strong when you’re weak, pretending to have the nuts when you don’t.
Wilson promised us some dancing, and on the final table, he most certainly danced. When play resumed on Wednesday, he knocked out Robel Andemichael and Gediminas Uselis in quick succession. Uselis made his stand against the dangerous Englishman, four-betting his Ace-Ten only to run into the top of Wilson’s range. After the pocket Kings held, Wilson had 60% of the chips in play and couldn’t put a foot wrong.
A couple of orbits later, a cruel run-out meant Brian Altman bust in fourth, losing with a straight versus the nut straight of Josh Kay. That left three players, and at that point, Wilson treated us to a masterclass of larceny as he pinched, pilfered, and purloined pot after pot.
In a key hand, Kay limp-called with Ace-King, setting the trap for Wilson. Unfortunately for Kay, it was a trap he fell into himself. Wilson’s Ten-Four flopped trips on Five-Four-Four flop. Kay called a flop bet and then an over-bet when the turn came a Nine. King on the river, and again Kay called a big bet versus the admittedly polarised range of the ever-aggressive Wilson.
With three players left, Wilson had 81% of the chips in play and had his opponents in an ICM coffin and an unenviable race for second. His Aces held versus Eveslage’s pocket Jacks, and in the early phase of heads-up play, he treated the audience to an absolute clinic, deft check-backs when he was bad, wafer-thin value bets when he was good.
Wilson jigged, tangoed and ground Kay down to a short stack. With just 8% of the chips in play, Kay was all-in with Jack-Eight versus Wilson’s Queen-Jack but the river double-paired the board for an unlikely chop. From there, Kay rallied, bloating pots and doubling twice with pocket Eights to Wilson’s suited Ace-Five suit and then King-Ten to Wilson’s suited King-Nine.
In the blink of an eye, the comeback was on, especially after Kay sniffed out an ill-timed bluff by Wilson. However, moments later, it was Kay’s turn for a misstep after he bluff-shoved for twice the pot into Wilson’s rivered set. It was a bit of a gift, and it put Wilson back into poll position.
After a period of back and forth, Kay managed another double, surviving his fourth all-in. Doing so across all four run-outs was a 7% shot, but Wilson soldiered on, his sole focus on the job at hand. Thankfully for him, the rollercoaster finally ended when his Kings held versus Kay’s Eight-Seven.
this star-man’s spaceship knows which way to go
For a long time, it was plain sailing for Wilson, who was cruising to his first WPT title. In the end, toiled for it versus the resilient Kay. It’s never easy to get the monkey off your back, but it now certainly seems like this star-man’s spaceship knows which way to go.
WPT Florida Final Table Payouts
1st Andy Wilson $785,800*
2nd Josh Kay $525,000
3rd Chad Eveslage $390,000
4th Brian Altman $290,000
5th Gediminas Uselis $219,000
6th Robel Andemichael $167,000
*+ $10,400 WPT World Championship seat
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