Big time congrats go out to Jia Liu, the 2012 Borgata Spring Open Champion who survived some crazy final table moments to take home the win and $312,483 Thursday.
"I'm still a litlle tired," Liu tells us at The Borgata Poker Blog. "But I'm feeling pretty good."
No doubt. For a "casual" player, he had a pretty busy week.
Though the 25-year-old from Brooklyn's tournament record dates back to 2008 and includes several Borgata events and even a trip to the 2011 WSOP, where he had a couple of cashes, he doesn't call himself a pro.
"I still look at poker as something I do on the side," he says. "I've been playing a lot the last couple of years especially, but I'm not a pro ... Of course, now I don't know. This is a big win, but it's not that much in the poker world.
"I mean yeah, in the real world it's a lot," laughs Liu. "But in the poker world, I don't know. I could give it back fast. I'll just have to see where I go from here."
For Liu, his win over the 520 player championship field was wrought with peril.
"After Day 1, I was pretty low-stacked," he says. "But I didn't get too worried about it. I knew I could be patient and wait for the chance to get some chips. So I just took my time and I have to admit, Day 2 and 3, I just kind of cruised and built my stack."
It's believable since Liu is an experienced player with 15 recorded cashes, good for about $186,000, going into the Borgata Spring Poker Open.
You can read a recap of his Spring Open win here, but essentially, his victory came down to two key hands at the final table.
Despite a healthy chip lead at the start of the final table, with 4.2 million in tournament chips, Liu soon found himself critically shortstacked, but managed to hang in.
Then, heads-up against runner-up Larry Abrams, he flopped a straight against top pair to pull even in chips.
But the critcial play came on a bet he didn't make. With pocket aces, he slowplayed his hand and laid them down when Abrams bet the river.
"I asked him if he'd show me his cards if I folded. He said 'Yes,' and he had a full house," Liu says. "That was a scary hand. I should have been all in. But I didn't make the mistake. I don't know. I was just amazed."
And now he's $312,000 richer.
"I had come down with some friends," he says. "But they didn't do too well. But they came back to be on the rail for me. It was a pretty exciting feeling at the end.
"I'd say the Borgata is like my home base," he say. "I like the staff and the structures. My friends were all impressed too. I't a great place to play."