The first event of the 2020 Borgata Winter Poker Open has concluded and Zarko Mandic emerged as the winner after topping a massive field of 4,375 entries.
The poker pro from New entered the $600 buy-in Deepstack Kick-Off and played in an aggressive fashion that stunned his opponents and helped him to win a great payout of $342,967.
What made the win even more special for Mandic is the fact that he is not an experienced player, having started playing poker seriously only a year ago. Prior to taking part in the 2020 Borgata Winter Poker Open, he had just a little more than $15,000 in live cashes, all of which he earned from entering tournaments in Atlantic City.
While he only started playing professionally in January 2019, Mandic revealed his interest in poker began during his college days. He would play Five-Card Draw, a poker variant that involves a lot of bluffing. That strategy proved effective for Mandic, with the prestigious Borgata trophy and the $342,967 in first-place prize money.
Mandic Overpowers Final Table
The official final table kicked off with nine players all aiming to take down the $2,000,000-guaranteed event, but unfortunately for Delaware native Patrick Luu, his bid ended early after a clash with Mandic. Luu finished ninth for $27,500. The next player to go was Ryan Teixera who moved all in with a pair of sixes against eventual runner-up Ricardo Eyzaguirre‘s king-queen. Teixera was initially in the lead, but the river gave Eyzaguirre a king, enough to send Teixera to the rail in eighth place for $42,945.
When the players resumed action after taking a short dinner break, Mandic went on a knockout streak, first sending start-of-day chip leader Jerry Maher out if the game in seventh place for $59,582, and then finishing off Leonard Sande who had to settle for sixth place, taking home $83,644. Mandic then eliminated Kirkwood Saccardo and Brian Morgan in an all-in battle, with Saccardo finishing fifth for $108,852, and Morgan fourth for $135,206.
Mandic remained unstoppable when three-handed play began. He opened from the button, prompting Constantinos Psallidas to three-bet all of his remaining stack in the middle. Mandic called with king-ten, against Psallidas’ ace-seven. The Canadian gained an edge during the four-high flop, but Mandic took over the lead after hitting a dime on the turn. Psallidas failed to find help on the river and he ultimately landed in third place for $164,539.
Mandic and Eyzaguirre were supposed to enter heads-up play but instead agreed to an adjusted payout deal. The lion’s share of the prize went to Mandic, and Eyzaguirre walked away with $290,000 for his runner-up finish.