WPT Gardens Poker Championship Crowns LA’s Ky Nguyen

Following two weeks of poker tournament action at the The Gardens Casino, the World Poker Tour crowned its latest Main Event champion during the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. Local Los Angeles pro Ky Nguyen won the event and the first place prize of $375,380.

The prestigious poker tournament drew a field of 346 entrants. The $5,250 buy-in created a prize pool of $1,678,100 that paid out the top 44 finishers a minimum of $71,200. Nguyen made the final table of six players after Day 4 on May 26.

The players then got a day off so they could travel to Las Vegas for the televised final table at HyperX Arena located in Luxor Hotel & Casino. The final table action was also livestreamed.

Nguyen wins seat at WPT World Championship in Vegas

Online poker in California for real money is still prohibited. However, the game is thriving with live games at tribal casinos and card rooms across the state.

Along with the prize money, Nguyen won a seat at the $10,400 buy-in 2023 WPT World Championship starting Dec. 12 at Wynn Las Vegas. He also got his name engraved on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup

Players started the tournament with 50,000 chips and 60-minute levels. Day 3 and 4 went to 90-minute levels. The final table was 60-minute levels until heads-up play, where the levels were 30 minutes in duration.

Vlogger Owen fell to Nguyen after going all-in with a suited king-6

WPT Ambassador Brad Owen (left front in above photo) finished in fourth place after starting the final table third in chips (3.35 million) thanks to scoring both knockouts on Day 4. As Owen stood from his seat at the WPT Garden Poker Championship, the crowd gave him a hearty round of applause.

While Owen’s hands and poker play didn’t result in the top prize, the popular poker vlogger still scored his career-high tournament payout of $125,000. His knockout from the final table came after more than two hours. Owen moved all-in with nearly 15 big blinds and suited K-6 from the button.

Fellow poker content creator Nguyen, known as “Suited Superman,” made the call in the big blind holding A-J. An ace on the turn secured Nguyen’s knockout of Owen.

Final table results

  1. Ky Nguyen: $357,380
  2. Ryan Salunga: $230,000
  3. Chris Lee: $169,000
  4. Brad Owen: $125,000
  5. Joey Deluca: $94,000
  6. Josh Lachman: $71,200

Nguyen wins tournament with three 8’s

Runner-up Ryan Salunga began the final table as the big chip leader with 7.3 million. Chris Lee was next with 4 million. Nguyen started the final table in fourth with 1.7 million chips. He moved up quickly, however, starting with the first hand. He raised with J-Q in the small blind, and Salunga, from Pico Rivera, CA, saw the flop with 8-8. Nguyen flopped the nut straight when 9-10-K hit the felt. He won the pot on the river after both players checked the flop and Nguyen bet the turn (2) and Salunga called before he folded. 

Those three players remained into level 27 and blinds of 75,000-125,000. Salunga had the chip lead with 10.4 million. Nguyen was next with 4.8 million, followed by Lee with 2.3 million. Lee doubled up with an A-4 all-in pre-flop against Nguyen’s pocket 10’s, and Lee turned an ace to stay alive. As the big blind went to 150,000, Nguyen raised with J-J and Lee went all-in with his last 2.1 million with A-4. He couldn’t connect and ended in third place.

Nguyen started heads-up play with 10.4 million in chips and Salunga had 7.1 million. Nguyen soon built up the lead to 14.4 million to Salunga’s 3 million. Nguyen went all-in with Q-8 and Salunga made the pre-flop call with J-10 with his last 1.8 million in chips. Nguyen was a 59% favorite before the flop. “Suited Superman” crushed the flop of 8-8-4 and eliminated Salunga.

Nguyen was emotional in victory.

“I have tried to play so many tournaments and I finally made it this far. I am overwhelmed with joy.” 

Three WPT events livestreamed over three days

A few other notable players who competed at WPT Gardens Poker Championship were former WPT champions Daniel Strelitz (23rd), Josh Pollock (37th) and Frank Stepuchin (42nd). 

    Along with the Gardens Championship being livestreamed on May 27, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown on May 25 and the WPT Choctaw on May 26 were also livestreamed.

    The WPT Prime SanRemo began June 1 on the Italian Riviera. The WPT Prime Main Event starts June 7 and has an entry fee of €1,100, or $1,180 in US dollars.

    You can bet you’ll see Nguyen playing in more WPT events during the 2023 season. He’ll certainly try to cash in big at the WPT World Championship in December at Wynn. 

    About the Author

    Fairway Jay

    FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst and provides insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. He's played poker while living in Las Vegas for nearly 20 years, and enjoys poker, handicapping, writing, researching and reporting. His tee-to-green coverage of sports, gaming and poker can be found at several Catena Media regional sites and beyond. Follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.