Poker players dream of winning a massive payday like the $4.1 million awarded to the champion of the World Poker Tour World Championship. New Jersey’s Frank Funaro sees that opportunity dead ahead with only 37 players returning for Day 5 of the massive tournament at the Wynn.
When the action resumed, the online and live poker grinder held 8.1 million chips and hoped to run that up for an appearance on the televised and live-streamed final table. After winning a World Series of Poker Online bracelet in October, another major opportunity now lies ahead.
“That would be awesome,” he told USPoker. “This is probably the best one of all time to win almost, the first world championship here (at Wynn).”
Running well at Wynn, but seeing some ups and downs
Getting to this point came with some major swings for Funaro – nice play mixed with a few fortuitous breaks along the way. On Day 2 he bagged about two starting stacks and then won a big all-in with pocket Queens against pocket Aces and another player with Ace-King.
That good fortune propelled his stack upward near the end of the day and he closed it out with a bit over 3 million. He advanced to about 17 million on Day 4, but then lost five pots in a row later in the day, ending with 8.1 million.
“At the end of the night I made what I thought was a pretty bad call,” he says. “I got in a spot where I may have needed to make a bit more disciplined fold. It was like a standard call, but I didn’t like it.”
Despite some swings, the cards have treated Funaro well at times overall.
“It seems like on the all-ins I’ve been hitting pretty well,” he says. “Yesterday there was Eights versus Queens. Soheb (Porbandarwalahad) had the chip laid at the table. It was a button versus small blind. He had like 12 million. I had 15 big blinds at the time, and just four-bet ripped button versus small blind and he had Queens and I hit an Eight.”
“I think the vibe’s a little bit better almost (than even the WSOP) because the Wynn is just a great place to play,” he says. “It’s a beautiful casino, the nicest one on the Strip. And it feels a little bit more relaxed and it’s a smaller series obviously. And there’s nothing in the winter, so this is maybe what poker has been missing for a little while.”
8.125m in the bag for day 5…. Hopefully I can keep running pure and maybe fold a river or 2 tomorrow. 100k locked up $4,150,000 for first 37 left out of 2960
— Franky Funk (@FrankFunaro1) December 18, 2022
Online poker success
Back in New Jersey, Funaro plays online poker at least four days a week – Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays with another day often part of the mix. He looks for the major series and some of the bigger daily events as well.
“If I’m home and not traveling, I’ll try and play as much as I can,” he says. “If there’s a series going on, I’m trying to get there for all of them. Since COVID there have been so many series and the prize pools have been relatively big.”
“That’s great because the Jersey sites like PokerStars and partypoker, they need an extra pool,” he says. “The WSOP Nevada and Jersey at least you have two states, and a lot of players are in Vegas so the player pools get decent. But Jersey Stars was not that big, so that’ll help a lot.”
Beyond the poker felt & looking ahead in the WPT World Championship
Outside of poker Funaro enjoys golf and invested in his first business almost two years ago. He’s now a part-owner of a commercial real estate project and hopes to do more of that in the coming years.
“I’m learning some about that world,” he says, adding that he wants“to keep moving forward, learn, keep investing, and start new projects.”
When he returned to the table, Funaro hoped to keep the good fortune going, but also play even better as the afternoon unfolds. What’s his plan?
“Win all-ins, make sets, have the best hands, and know when I’m beat,” he says. “All the standard stuff. I’m going to take my time and felt like I played very well through this run.
“I have been really lucky in all-in pots. I feel like besides that one call, I’m very happy with how I played. I feel like it’s a big moment for a lot of people and I’ve got to consider a lot more things like on the river in these big pots, just take my time and really evaluate the player in a situation a little better.”