Roger Teska wins WPT Gardens
Roger Teska wins WPT Gardens (photo: WPT)

Season XVIII of the World Poker Tour kicked off this week with the WPT Gardens Poker Festival at the Gardens Casino in Southern California. A field of 373 entries was generated to create a prize pool of $1.753 million. On Thursday, it was Roger Teska taking the title, $368,475 in first-place prize money, and a brand new 2019 BMW X1.

The victory marked the first WPT title of Teska’s career and came less than a year after he won the partypoker $25,500 MILLIONS World event for $2 million down in the Bahamas in November. It was the third WPT cash and second WPT final table to date for Teska.

WPT Gardens Poker Festival Final Table Results

1st: Roger Teska – $368,475*
2nd: Laszlo Molnar – $235,615
3rd: Lior Orel – $172,770
4th: Lars Kamphues – $128,320
5th: Andrew Wisdom – $96,545
6th: Cord Garcia – $73,600

*First place includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.

The final table began Thursday afternoon with Lior Ohel out in front of the final six players.

Cord Garcia was second to last in chips to start the final table and he was the first one to fall. After getting a chunk taken from his stack by Teska, Garcia was knocked out in sixth by Lars Kamphues on the 17th hand of the final table. Kamphues held the QdQc to dominate Garcia’s QsTd and that was all she wrote for Garcia.

Shortly thereafter, Andrew Wisdom hit the rail in fifth place. He was also eliminated by Kamphues. From there, four-handed play lasted quite some time and there was a lot of shifting around on the leaderboard. Eventually, Kampheus got his money in with the JsJc in a flip against Teska’s AsQh. Kamphues held until the river but then an ace hit to knock him out in fourth place.

Three-handed play was also an extended affair, although not quite as long as four-handed play lasted. Orel was the player to bust in third after he ran the XxJc into the KsKc of Laszlo Molnar.

Heads-up play began with Molnar out in front by quite a wide margin. He had 12.275 million in chips to Teska’s 2.65 million. Teska doubled on the first hand of the duel when he made Broadway with the QhJs against Molnar’s AhQd after the money went in preflop.

Teska kept chipping away at Molnar’s stack, then won a big one with quad sevens after he raised preflop and bet the entire way, hitting trips on the flop and riveting quads. That hand left Molnar very short and he was eliminated shortly thereafter.

After a couple of shoves that went uncalled, Molnar shoved again from the button for 1.475 million with the blinds at 125,000-250,000 with a 250,000 big blind ante. Teska called with the Ah6c and was ahead of Molnar’s KcQc. The board ran out Jc9h4d3c2s and Molnar was out in second place for $235,615.

The top 48 finishers from the field of 373 entries cashed in the event, with notable finishes had by Maria Ho (8th – $44,525), James Calderaro (12th – $28,445), Viny Lima (15th – $19,225), and Adam Weinraub (19th – $16,150).

Teska Takes Early WPT Player of the Year Lead

With his WPT Gardens victory, Teska sits atop the Hublot WPT Player of the Year standings for the new season, having earned 1,000 points. Although the new WPT season is only one event in, Teska did tell the WPT that he is likely to play a few more events this season.

1st: Roger Teska – 1,000 points
2nd: Laszlo Molnar – 800 points
3rd: Lior Ohel – 700 points
4th: Lars Kamphues – 600 points
5th: Andrew Wisdom – 500 points
6th: Cord Garcia – 400 points
7th: Eric Hicks – 300 points
8th: Maria Ho – 200 points
9th: Vladimir Vasilyev – 150 points
10th: Eric Wong – 100 points

Garcia, who took sixth at WPT Gardens and is sixth in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race because of it, is also likely to play a handful of WPT events this season. In fact, he’s even willing to bet on himself in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race.

“I woke up this morning and since it was a new season I decided that I would entertain some side bets – just one on one, whoever has the most points at the end of the season,” Garcia told the WPT. “I wasn’t really interested in side-liners just taking elite players, but I told any player that if he wanted to bet himself, the door is open.”

Garcia said that he did book one $5,000 wager with two-time WPT champ and one of winningest players out of Pennsylvania, Aaron Mermelstein.

The winner of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race for Season XVIII will earn a special Hublot timepiece valued at $15,000 and a $15,000 WPT Passport that can be used towards buy-ins in any Season XVIII global WPT event. The winner also receives complimentary accommodation, ground transportation, and food and beverage credit at select WPT Main Tour stops. The player who finishes second in the race will earn a $7,500 WPT Passport, and the player who finishes third will earn a $2,500 WPT Passport.

Legends of Poker Next for WPT Main Tour

Season XVIII of the World Poker Tour continues with the WPT Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Southern California in August. The $5,000 buy-in Main Event takes place August 31 through September 4 and features two starting flights.