The first seven-figure poker tournament payday of 2023 has been awarded. Bin Weng defeated a field of 1,142 entries in The Return Championship $5,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em event on Jan. 8 at The Borgata in Atlantic City, NJ. The Philadelphia resident earned a career-high $1,000,000 payday for the victory.
With this marquee victory under his belt, Weng now has more than $2.9 million in recorded tournament scores. This title run also saw Weng awarded 1,920 Card Player Player of the Year points. As a result, he has taken an early lead in the 2023 POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker.
This event featured two starting flights and three more days of action. The first starting flight saw 562 entries, with another 580 entries on day 1B. The solid turnout saw the $3 million guarantee easily surpassed, with $5,538,700 in prize money ultimately paid out among the top 110 finishers.
Big names that ran deep included World Series of Poker bracelet winner Joey Weissman (85th), bracelet winner Mike Jukich (52nd), bracelet winner Jesse Lonis (48th), bracelet winner and recent WPT World Championship final tablist Frank Funaro (46th), three-time bracelet winner Dan Zack (44th), and Mukul Pahuja (14th). The final day began with eight players remaining and 2015 WSOP main event champion Joe McKeehen in the lead and Weng in the middle of the pack. An early preflop coin flip saw Weng’s A-Q outrun the pocket eights of recent The Return mystery bounty event winner Sam Laskowitz (8th – $144,006). Weng found himself in a similar situation soon after that, with A-Q dueling the pocket hacks of Christopher Ng (7th – $193,855). Weng flopped an ace and held from there to narrow the field to six.
McKeehen added some distance between himself and Weng when his pocket jacks held up against the pocket tens of Lanny Vaysman. McKeehen ended up with jacks full to send Vaysman packing in sixth place ($246,472).
Two-time bracelet winner Justin Saliba’s run in this event concluded in fifth place when he ran A-Q into the pocket aces of McKeehen. Saliba earned $304,629, the second-largest score of his career. He now has more than $2.5 million in recorded earnings.
Weng added to his stack in a major way when he flopped two pair with 6-4 offsuit facing an overpair of pocket kings for Jonathan Borenstein. The chips got in on the flop and Borenstein was unable to improve, earning $368,324 as the fourth-place finisher.
A key preflop coin flip dramatically altered the leaderboard early in three-handed action. Weng raised from the button and then four-bet jammed over McKeehen’s small blind three-bet with AHeart SuitKHeart Suit. McKeehen called with JDiamond SuitJClub Suit. The board ran out ASpade SuitADiamond Suit9Diamond Suit7Heart Suit4Heart Suit and Weng made trips to win the pot and take a commanding lead.
McKeehen’s stack took another his when his pocket kings were cracked by the pocket jacks of Sundiata Devore. He soon found himself all-in and at risk with A-J leading Devore’s A-5, but a five on the river sent the three-time bracelet winner home with $440,327 for his third-place showing.
With that, heads-up play began with Weng leading and Devore not too far behind. On a break the final two hashed out a deal that redistributed the remaining prize money, with the runner-up securing $926,128 and $1,000,000 going to the champion.
The final hand saw Weng raise from the button and call when Devore three-bet shoved. Weng held AClub SuitKDiamond Suit, which had Devore’s ADiamond SuitQHeart Suit dominated. The board came down KClub Suit7Diamond Suit4Club SuitASpade Suit3Spade Suit to lock up the pot and the title for Weng. Devore earned the payout he negotiated for as the runner-up, which was by far the biggest payday yet on his tournament resume.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table: