Dapo Ajayi takes down WPT Choctaw, more than half-a-million dollars

Jon Sofen
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Published: July 28, 2021 2:39 AM EDT

Dapo Ajayi dominated the competition at the WPT Choctaw final table on Tuesday afternoon. As a result, he came out victorious, earning his first World Poker Tour title, and took home a nice cool $558,610 score, far and away the biggest score of his poker career.

Ajayi is fresh off an impressive deep run in the historic $10,000 buy-in Wynn Millions last month in Las Vegas. He placed 95th out of 1,328 in that event, good for $31,842, and came up just short of some life-changing money. Andrew Moreno went on to win the largest non-WSOP $10k’s in Las Vegas history for a whopping $1.4 million.

Experience pays off

Ajayi had another close call in October 2019 at the WPT Montreal final table. He finished runner-up to Geoff Hum and won $254,966, his largest cash until Tuesday in Durant, Oklahoma.

When the final table began on Tuesday at 11 am CST at the WPT Choctaw, a $3,700 buy-in tournament that attracted 964 entries, none of the six competitors had previously won a World Poker Tour event, but three players had been to a final table. Those individuals are Viet Vo, the chip leader, Albert Calderon, and of course Ajayi. Coincidentally, those three players had the biggest stacks.

Experience in pressure situations paid off as the chip leaders all reached the top three. Michael Perrone, who began the day with the smallest stack, was first out the door in sixth place, which paid $118,090. Will Nguyen was then eliminated in fifth place, a $154,885. Hunter Cichy, a poker strategy book author, busted in third place for $205,330.

Got over the hump

With the three inexperienced World Poker Tour players gone, the final three put on quite a show. Calderon, who finished in fifth place at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in April for $326,750, made a bold move during three-handed play that didn’t pay off.

With Q-5 of hearts on a board of A-8-A-J with two hearts, he moved all-in hoping to get his opponent, Ajayi, to fold. Even if Ajayi were to call, assuming he didn’t have a full house, at least he’d have some outs drawing to the flush. After pondering his decision for a minute, Ajayi opted for a call with A-2 (trips), and won the pot when a meaningless 5 landed on the turn, sending Calderon home in third place, good for $275,085.

That set up what seemed would be a short heads-up match. Ajayi held better than a 4-1 chip advantage over Viet Vo, who also reached the final table of the recent WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown (third place for $593,140). But Vo didn’t go away quietly.

He battled back over the first hour of heads-up play and even briefly took a slim chip lead. From there, however, Ajayi would eventually grind him down, chip by chip. On the 109th hand of heads-up play, Ajayi woke up with pocket kings in the big blind after his opponent shoved with Q-3. The board ran out 5-2-10-K-Q and both players shook hands as the tournament, which began July 23, came to an end.

Vo received $372,415 for his runner-up finish, and the champion earned $558,610. More importantly, Ajayi finally got over the hump and took down a big poker tournament.

The World Poker Tour will take a month off before heading out to Jacksonville, Florida for the $5,000 buy-in WPT Bestbet Scramble, which runs August 27-31.

Featured image source: World Poker Tour