Scott Eskenazi Enjoying His Chance to Live Out WPT Dreams
Scott Eskenazi kicked off Season 21 of the World Poker Tour in the strongest possible way, claiming victory at WPT Rolling Thunder. Along with a career-best $361,660 cash, Eskenazi was the first WPT Champions Club member to secure a spot in the season-ending WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas.
Since his victory at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, Eskenazi has been active on tour, following along to events all over the country. And with a World Championship entry already in his pocket, the Washington-based pro arrived in Las Vegas a week beforehand, joining thousands of players taking part in the $5 million guaranteed WPT Prime Championship, which kicked off Friday.
I love the Wynn. I love the WPT, said Eskenzai. The combination of both of them, it’s just wonderful. They’ve really put so much effort into making it so comfortable for the players, and it’s a great place to play. I hope they crush it, and this becomes a tradition.
The WPT Prime Championship is certainly off to a strong start, flirting with 4,000 total entries over the first two starting sessions alone. For Eskenazi, the stakes at Wynn Las Vegas over the next couple of weeks are even higher than the average players.
With his win at Rolling Thunder, along with a deep run in the WPT bestbet Scramble and a cash in the Seminole Rock N Roll Poker Open in November, Eskenazi is one of a handful of contenders who could potentially catch Bin Weng in the WPT Player of the Year race.
Eskenazi is ever-hopeful for another run in either the Prime Championship or WPT World Championship, which could make him WPT Player of the Year. Hes enjoyed success at the Wynn as well, having finished second in the 2022 Wynn Fall Classic $3,000 Championship event. But Eskenazi is well aware of the hill hell have to climb, in the face of everything Weng has accomplished in 2023.
I’m just enjoying playing, said Eskenazi. Bin Weng is just a phenomenal player and he has had a phenomenal year. I have played with him, and it’s so difficult to put him on a hand. That’s just part of what makes him so good.
Statistically, I’m still in the race. But the reality is, Bin’s so far ahead of everybody that I don’t think anybody’s gonna catch him. Congratulations to him on a fantastic year.
Regardless of whether or not Eskenazi pulls out another big win to bookend this season of the WPT, hes become something hes been after for a long time hes a WPT Main Tour regular. Even after his elimination, Eskenazi stopped into the VIP Lounge adjacent to the Encore Ballroom and caught up with familiar faces among WPT staff and talent.
He holds these kinds of opportunities close to his heart, and Eskenazi is all too aware of how precious they can be. One of his most treasured WPT memories came several years prior to his run of successes in 2023. In late February of 2020, Eskenazi was in attendance for the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, and on one particular night over the course of the event he found himself in the presence of WPT royalty.
We were at the LAPC, and a group of us went to dinner, Eskenazi recalled. And it was the last restaurant dinner that I had before COVID. I didn’t know Mike Sexton, and got the privilege of sitting next to him. He was just so wonderful to me, telling stories. He was just a phenomenal guy – so easy to talk to, and so easy to listen to. It was just a wonderful experience.
I really admired Mike Sexton, and the poker world lost a giant, and a gentleman.
Despite his passing in late 2020, Sextons presence is palpable at the 2023 WPT World Championship. There are signs in the hallways echoing his most famous sentiments, like, May all of your cards be live, and may all of your pots be monsters. Replays of Sexton calling some of the most famous moments in WPT history play on the screens in the Encore Ballroom.
And in the eyes and hearts of many players, including Eskenazi, decades of poker hopes and dreams are playing out with every hand during this World Championship festival. After adding his name to the Mike Sexton Champions Cup this year, Eskenazi has a clear realization of how far he’s come in his own pursuits.
I’ve always watched the World Poker Tour on TV. And I always wanted to play in WPT tournaments, said Eskenazi. The reality of being able to play, and then win, has been a dream come true.
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