2017 World Series of Poker: John Racener Earns First Bracelet, “PLOssus” Crowns Champion



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The weekend is always too short at the 2017 World Series of Poker and, for two men, it was a time they would like to have lasted longer. Those two men, John Racener and Tyler Smith? They’re the latest champions who earned new WSOP bracelets for their play on the felt.

Event #17 – $10,000 Six-Handed Dealer’s Choice World Championship

As usual with the high-dollar events at the WSOP, the pros were out in force for the $10K Dealer’s Choice event. Leading the way was John Racener who, despite a successful career in the tournament poker arena, had never taken down a bracelet. Racener was the only player out of the 10 remaining over a million chips (1.124 million), but there were challenges awaiting him in Chris Klodnicki, Viacheslav Zhukov, and Mike Matusow as the final day began on Saturday.

Racener had an early misstep in letting Dennis Eichhorn have a few chips as Zhukov pulled closer in eliminating Shawn Buchanan from the tournament in tenth place while playing Badeucey. Matusow also kept his name in the mix, eliminating Ben Yu in ninth place and James Obst in eighth to bring the table to the brink of the official final table. Matusow would take care of that elimination also (after Racener took most of the stack) when he eliminated Eric Crain in seventh place.

With the final six determined that would get an official WSOP final table added to their resumes, Klodnicki went on the offensive. He took over the lead in chopping a big stack of chips from Eichhorn as Racener tried to keep up. The story of the start of the final table was Matusow, however, as his rush – and his efforts to live up to his nickname of ‘The Mouth’ – only got stronger. Matusow’s stack would grow after a 2-7 Triple Draw hand against Eichhorn saw ‘The Mouth’ make a nine low against Eichhorn’s inferior Jack low, then he would pick up another big pot when he played hidden trip Kings (all down cards) in Stud Hi/Lo and Klodnicki couldn’t come up with a low or a better high.

At this point, things were looking grim for Racener. With five players to go, Racener (500K) was the only player who didn’t have at least a million chips. Klodnicki, Zhukov, Eichhorn and Matusow were all arranged between 1.17 million and 1.05 million chips, however, so Racener was within striking distance of them. That deficit would become a lead within a couple of hands, though.

In an A-5 Triple Draw hand, Zhukov would check-call three bets from Racener but couldn’t find the fourth call after the third draw, sending a nice sized pot to Racener. Zhukov then tried to take on Racener in Stud Hi/Lo, coming up short on both sides of the equation to ship more chips to the Floridian. Those two hands alone saw almost 700K in chips swing hands as Racener took over the lead.

Racener wouldn’t make any more mistakes. After Zhukov took out Matusow in fifth place after making The Wheel in A-5 Triple Draw, Racener would mow down Eichhorn and Klodnicki in fourth and third places, respectively, to go to heads up with a monstrous 4.425 million-to-625K chip lead. The heads-up match between Racener and Zhukov lasted all of one hand as, playing No Limit Hold’em, Racener put enough chips out to put Zhukov all in. Zhukov called and was in a race situation, his pocket sevens leading against Racener’s A-J off suit, with a double desperately needed. Instead, a Jack in the window sealed Zhukov’s fate, giving Racener a better pair and, once another Jack came on the river to complete the formalities, earning Racener a long-desired WSOP bracelet for his trophy case.

1. John Racener, $273,962
2. Viacheslav Zhukov, $169,323
3. Chris Klodnicki, $117,786
4. Dennis Eichhorn, $83,263
5. Mike Matusow, $59,827
6. Schuyler Thornton, $43,707

Event #18 – $500 Pot Limit Omaha

The largest ever Pot Limit Omaha tournament in history – 3186 entries, leading it to be dubbed the “PLOssus” by its participants – wrapped up on Sunday by awarding its WSOP bracelet. In the end, it was a Mississippi cash game pro who took home the gold and the green for his efforts.

Jessie Bryant was holding the lead when the final nine men came to the felt Sunday afternoon. Although Bryant held a good stack of 3.245 million chips, nobody at the final table was under a million in count, meaning that a mistimed step by Bryant, or even Igor Sharaskin (2.01 million), would result in a reorganization of the leader board. Thus, the frenetic action from the starting gun surprised many in the Brasilia Room.

Bryant would double up John Dallaire to lose the lead to Sharaskin, who went upwards after eliminating Yves Kupfermunz in ninth place. Sharaskin would then disperse those chips over to Tyler Smith, who rocketed up the leaderboard after doubling through Sharaskin. After Marek Ohnisko took down Ryan Wince in eighth, Ohnisko took over the helm of the ship as the blinds ratcheted up.

This type of action – the lead ever flowing between the players – was indicative of the play throughout the tournament. As Sharaskin retook the lead after eliminating Dallaire, Smith remained relevant in nearly knocking out Bryant (Sharaskin would actually take down Bryant). The pace would slow a bit, which seemed to work out well for Smith as he used some post-flop play to force players off hands as his stack slowly crawled upwards. Once he took down Ohnisko, Davies and Sharaskin in fifth through third places (respectively), Smith was in a commanding position over Jason Stockfish (13.18 million vs. 2.75 million) as heads up began.

That heads up match lasted all of one hand. Smith potted pre-flop and, after Stockfish moved his stack to the center, called and showed a A-Q-8-7 for battle. Stockfish’s A-10-8-5 was well-equipped for the fight, but the J-6-4-J-2 brought nothing to help Stockfish’s efforts. Once the deuce hit the river, the chips and the championship were pushed towards Tyler Smith in the biggest live PLO tournament of all-time.

1. Tyler Smith, $244,344
2. Jason Stockfish, $138,655
3. Igor Sharaskin, $102,045
4. Scott Davies, $75,699
5. Marek Ohnisko, $56,607
6. Jessie Bryant, $42,673
7. John Dallaire, $32,432
8. Ryan Wince, $24,852
9. Yves Kupfermunz, $19,201

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