Always an entertaining debacle for most, Event #89: $1,000 Flip & Go presented by GGPoker was a smashing success for one Dong Meng, who not only won it outright but also managed to do it on just one bullet. Meng unfortunately missed the Main Event because he was under the weather but he more than made up for it with his spectacular run in this very unique tournament.
The tournament, a part of the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) hosted by Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas saw 128 players make it through the flipping stage of the tournament, which has 1,022 entries, and those survivors were guaranteed a cash of at least $2,000 from the $1,182,810 prize pool.
A software engineer by trade, Meng described poker as a hobby that he takes quite seriously, mentioning he’s still a student of the game. Meng was able to defeat popular Huster Casino Live personality Wesley Fei heads up, who at one point seemed poised to run what was left of the field.
Fei created a light-hearted environment, attributing “energy” as the most important part of winning all in altercations. Perhaps Fei’s good karma was only less than the humble Meng, who was able to find the victory after just five hours of play on Day 2, winning a hefty $160,490 for his efforts, the largest cash of his career.
2023 WSOP Event #89 Final Table Results
|1||Dong Meng||United States||$160,490|
|4||Kevin Eyster||United States||$52,280|
|6||David Williams||United States||$28,870|
|7||Eric Wasserson||United States||$21,880|
|8||Drew Gonzalez||United States||$16,790|
|9||Andrew Sandomire||United States||$13,070|
Day 1 Action
Oftentimes, it’s the professional poker players who take a particular liking to the faster tournaments in the series so it’s no surprise that plenty of notables made it into the money, willing to fire the necessary amount of entries to guarantee a shot at the gold. Scott Seiver was one that list and made a marked improvement from last year when he fired 43 flips to no avail. This year saw Seiver make it into the money with just seven attempts.
However, Seiver wasn’t fortunate enough to make it through the day and neither were several other multiple-time bracelet winners, including Benjamin Yu, Shaun Deeb, Josh Arieh or Yuval Bronshtein.
The action’s pace was brisk, as this tournament was slated for 30-minute levels from beginning to end, and by the time bags were passed out, only 18 hopefuls remained after 12 levels of play.
Day 2 Action
Pete Chen entered the day with the chip lead and it took all of six minutes from the beginning of Day 2 for the final two table redraw to be initiated; Christopher Battenfield and Connor Heelis fell in quick succession when their overcards were unable to overcome their opponents’ pairs, leaving them both to settle for a $6,680 prize.
Not long after, Meng managed to score a double knock out when Jesse Lonis and Jack Salter ran into his A♠J♦.
As the final table approached, consummate poker professional and Master Chef runner-up David Williams, a recent guest on The Chad & Jesse Poker Show, caught heat, eliminating James Bullimore in 12th place ($8,240) and Taylor Black in 10th place ($10,300). That brought players down to the unofficial final table, as the tournament had played 8-handed.
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Final Table Action
Kevin Eyster had managed to overtake the lead (5,300,000) despite all the chaos, with Williams close on his heels (4,725,000).
Williams was able to bust yet another player when Andrew Sandomire ran his short stack into Williams’ jacks. This was good news for Drew “BetOnDrew” Gonzalez and Brady Hinnegan, who had also entered the final table short. Sanomire was sent to the payouts in ninth place and Fei congratulated him on making the final table on his way out.
Just a few hands later, Gonzalez went all in over the open of Eyster but the latter wasn’t able to make the fold and ended up sucking out on Gonzalez’s jacks with a suited ace. Gonzalez is a popular YouTube Vlogger who made mention that this was his first big live final table.
Fei had gotten short and had shown some light shoves leading to that when he tripled up with red aces against Hinnegan and Meng for a huge momentum shift. Fei had spent the day joking about the equilibrium between ‘skill’ and ‘good energy’, sometimes changing his tune and making mention that ‘skill was a scam’.
Eric Wasserson took a bad beat when Meng caught a ten against him and the very next hand he committed the rest of his chips blind, running into the suited ace of Eyster. Wasserson was heard joking (sort of) that he would need to win this tournament four times over to end up even for the summer. Fei told him he also played the $50,000 High Roller and that he was in the same boat.
Chen had a tremendous opportunity to take over the tournament when he woke up with kings and two all-ins in front of him. Instead, a miraculous chopped pot saved the tournament life of both Fei and Hinnegan. Chen took it in the chin but was well aware of the opportunity he missed out on.
Williams was next to fall when he ran into Eyster’s A♠Q♣ with an inferior A♥J♠. A competitor through and through, Williams obviously had a bracelet weighing heavy on his mind from the beginning but did take time to let the people know he was about even on Flip & Go’s tournament lifetime with this finish, as it took him over twenty attempts the first time he ever played one.
Soon after Williams’ elimination, Fei took consecutive bites out of the stacks of Eyster and Chen to further cement his new found philosophies. Chen seemed unable to catch a break, as he was next to fall when his pair of jacks were outdrawn by Eyster’s A♣Q♣, which left Chen ironically finishing in fifth place, the exact same finish he had in 2022’s Flip & Go tournament.
An agitated Eyster was next to run into the wall of Meng, losing a massive pot when his top pair was bested. Just after the color up, Eyster shoved what was left of his chips in preflop and Meng collected the rest of his chips when he made a straight on the turn. Eyster ended up settling for fourth place despite entering the final table with the chip lead.
Hinnegan remained good-natured for the entire ride, granted he had luck shine on him in multiple ways, as he had entered the final table short stacked but either got lucky when he needed or had other people busting, providing him plenty of pay jumps. In the end, he was priced in against a shove from Fei but wasn’t able to catch the cards he needed, eliminating him in third place.
Early on in heads-up play, Meng flopped a flush and was able to take a nice pot off Fei to switch the momentum and push him into the lead.
Just like everything else in this tournament, heads-up play was a quick battle that saw Fei run his inferior ace into the A♥K♥ of Meng. Fei shouted for a seven, willing all his energy, but ultimately fell short of his first bracelet.
PokerNews caught up with Dong Meng just after claiming his victory and he had this to say: “I feel surreal… You know, I’m just really excited. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and I know a lot of people [who wish they were competing] couldn’t be here, so I feel very fortunate.”
It wasn’t until he got heads up that he really felt like he had a chance to win it but upon further elaborating he explained that he mostly was just focused on playing his best. He went on to say he did the best he could with the cards he got dealt, got value when he could, and induce mistakes from his opponents. This is only Meng’s second time at the series and while has a huge passion for poker, it comes secondary to his career. Meng moved to the states from China in 2010 and said that what he loves about poker is that it brings people from all walks of life together. It’s his dream to be able to compete with the best and he’s grateful for his friends who he’s able to discuss strategy with.