Eric Afriat Makes History at WPT Fallsview Poker Classic

The 2020 Fallsview Poker Classic is in the books. And a piece of it is in the history books as well.

The Fallsview Casino poker room, in Ontario and with a view of Niagara Falls, hosted the live tournament series from February 16 through February 23. The annual series offered four major events and estimated that the grand total of prize pools would top $5 million.

Turnout was solid, and results were impressive but none more so than in the WPT Main Event. Not only was the reigning champion from the 2019 tournament at the final table, another person was going for his third WPT title. The latter did the job and became only the sixth person in WPT history to win three titles or more.

First Day of WPT Main Event Action

Players descended upon the poker room at Fallsview to pay C$5K to play the WPT Main Event. They had an opportunity to reenter once before the end of the registration period on Day 1, February 21.

When registration closed and the numbers were tallied, the results were:

  • 594 entries
  • C$2,708,046 prize pool, well more than the estimated C$2,055,000

This made it possible for the top 75 finishers to be paid at least $6,720 for their efforts, though the top prize was more than C$508K.

The first day of action finished with just 134 players out of the original field, and American poker pro Blair Hinkle was at the top of the leaderboard with 520,000 chips. Arash Tafakori also had a significant stack of 465,500. Former poker pro Vanessa Selbst was also in the top ten at the end of the night, and last year’s champion, Demo Kiriopoulos, had a solid stack as well.

Aiming for the Final Table

Day 2 of the tournament saw some relatively fast action on the way to the money bubble. At that point, Mike Leah busted Jim Kalogritsas in 76th place to open up the payouts to the remaining players.

Alex Foxen was the first player to cash in 75th place, and he was followed by many other notable players:

  • Ben Farrell in 69th place (C$7,929)
  • Chanracy Khun in 63rd place (C$9,193)
  • Jeff Madsen in 56th place (C$9,193)
  • Blair Hinkle in 53rd place (C$10,617)
  • Mike Leah in 49th place (C$10,617)
  • Vanessa Selbst in 22nd place (C$23,788)

That night ended with 15 players still in search of the WPT title. Tafakori was the chip leader, but close behind was Kiriopoulos in the hopes of winning back-to-back WPT Fallsview Main Event titles. Eric Afriat was one of the shorter stacks, but the two-time WPT champion was hopeful about a third.

Final Day and a Fight to the Finish

The last day of play started with Parker Talbot exiting in 15th place with C$33,841. Tafakori ended his strong run in 11th place with C$42,362. And eventually, Paul Brar accepted a seventh place finish for C$84,939, bubbling the official final table.

The final table chip counts were:

  • Adam Hui – 8,515,000
  • Marc-Olivier Carpentier-Perrault – 4,960,000
  • Trung Hien Nguyen – 3,945,000
  • Demo Kiriopoulos – 3,060,000
  • Zuhair Al-Pachachi – 2,135,000
  • Eric Afriat – 1,200,000

Play began rather cautiously. It took 24 hands to see a big move from Carpentier-Perrault that put Nguyen to the test, and Kiriopoulos then took a sizeable pot from Carpentier-Perrault.

On the 32nd hand of the table, Nguyen busted Al-Pachachi in sixth place. As Carpentier-Perrault lost more chips, Hui increased his chip stack to climb over 10 million. Afriat then doubled through Carpentier-Perrault and then through Nguyen. And Hui topped 12 million chips.

Afriat found his momentum and began to climb as Carpentier-Perrault doubled through Hui. On the 67th hand of the night, Afriat eliminated Kiriopoulos and ended his run for back-to-back titles.

Nguyen began shoving his stack periodically and finally found a taker when Hui called, but Nguyen found himself out in fourth place.

The final three began play on the 108th hand of the final table. There was a lot of action but little change in overall chip counts until Afriat took a big pot from Hui to climb over 14 million. Nearly 50 hands later, Carpentier-Perrault ousted Hui in third place.

And Two Become One

The final duel began with these chip counts:

  • Eric Afriat – 13,150,000
  • Marc-Olivier Carpentier-Perrault – 10,625,000

It didn’t take long. Several hands in, Carpentier-Perrault moved all-in with A-5, and Afriat called with pocket sevens. The board delivered Q-T-2-8-2, and Afriat won with two pair.

Afriat took a coveted place in WPT history as one of only six players to ever earn three WPT titles or more. The Canadian noted that it was extra special to win in his home country of Canada. “It’s a great, great feeling,” he told the WPT. “I haven’t been happy like this in a long time.”

  • 1st place: Eric Afriat (C$508,021)
  • 2nd place: Marc-Olivier Carpentier-Perrault (C$356,180)
  • 3rd place: Adam Hui (C$229,013)
  • 4th place: Trung Hien Nguyen (C$163,965)
  • 5th place: Demo Kiriopoulos (C$125,850)
  • 6th place: Zuhair Al-Pachachi (C$103,217)
Eric Afriat, WPT champion at Fallsview Poker Classic

Photo Courtesy of the World Poker Tour

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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