With about a week remaining before the start of the $10,000 World Championship Event, the 2017 World Series of Poker continued to hand out the hardware. In one case, it was the first bracelet victory for the player but, for the other, it allowed him to etch his name into history.
Event #52 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em
With 23 players returning to determine the champion in this event, it was completely open as to who would walk away with the crown. Would it be Jason Mercier, looking for his sixth ever bracelet? How about Phil Collins, Cary Katz, or Andy Frankenberger, both on shorter stacks but still dangerous? Or would it be one of the larger stacks in the room, such as Mohsin Charania?
The players wasted little time getting down to figuring out who would take the crown. Within an hour of action, the tournament was down to 18 players and redrew into two tables. An oddity was that Collins wasn’t at the table for the action. In fact, he never showed up for play on the final day of Event #52, blinding out on the same hand that Rainer Kempe was eliminated by Mikhail Rudoy. For not showing up, Collins earned a sixteenth-place finish and $13,807, but the mystery only deepened.
Within four hours of the start of action, the unofficial final table was set. Leading the way as the players moved to the ESPN broadcast stage was Sam Phillips, who looked to be hitting every hand he played, while a host of players sat with at least a million chips, looking to take him down. Charania, for his part, was tucked in behind the million-chip stacks at 815K, while Katz was the short stack with only 320K.
After James Florence bubbled the final table in tenth, both Katz and Charania looked to be the “odd men out” as they sat at the bottom of the ladder. Katz was first to come to life, taking down a couple of hands to crack the million-chip mark, and Charania got a double up through Phillips that gave him some much-needed chips. That double for Charania was so good it allowed him to eliminate Phillips in sixth and move the former European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour champion to break through the three million chip mark.
Now it was Katz’s turn to climb back into the fight, knocking off Frankenberger in fourth. But Charania would keep his foot on the gas as well, doubling through chip leader Brandon Ageloff to take over the lead with his 6.6 million chips. After Charania ended Ageloff’s day in flopping a six-high straight against Ageloff’s pocket Kings, Charania and Katz went to heads up with Charania holding a nearly 3:1 lead.
With such an advantage, the heads-up match was never close. Over the span of 11 hands, Charania continually pounded Katz with raises until the part owner of Poker Central could stand no more. On the final hand, Katz pushed his short stack to the center and, after Charania called, was dismayed to see his K-Q off suit was dominated by Charania’s A-Q off suit. A 9-9-2-10-2 board left both playing their high card and Charania’s ace earned him his first WSOP bracelet.
1. Mohsin Charania, $364,438
2. Cary Katz, $225,181
3. Brandon Ageloff, $161,844
4. Andy Frankenberger, $117,611
5. Mikhail Rudoy, $86,424
6. Sam Phillips, $64,226
7. Ian Steinman, $48,276
8. Yanki Koppel, $36,708
9. Milan Simko, $28,239
With the victory, Charania has completed what used to be one of the biggest achievements in poker. Poker’s Triple Crown – winning a bracelet at the WSOP, winning a Main Event on the EPT, and winning a Main Tour event on the WPT – may have gone away with the departure of the EPT, but Charania had everything but the bracelet prior to the start of the WSOP. Now he has that, becoming the sixth man to achieve the feat (after Gavin Griffin, Roland De Wolfe, Jake Cody, Bertrand Grospellier and Davidi Kitai).
Event #53 – $3000 Six-Handed Limit Hold’em
In what would prove to be a crushing performance, the United Kingdom’s Max Silver added his name to the roster of players who have earned a WSOP bracelet by winning Event #53.
Seven players – one more than the official final table – came back to do battle for the gold and Silver was in front of all of them. The only player holding over a million chips (his closest competitor, Ayman Qutami, had 792K), Silver immediately announced his intentions in dumping David Olson as the final table “bubble boy” and never looked back. By the time Silver reached heads up play against Guowei Zhang, he held more than a 3:1 lead.
In heads up, however, Zhang gave Silver a battle. Although Zhang never got close to the lead, he forced Silver to fight for it, sparring for almost 30 hands (one in which contained a straight flush for Zhang) before meeting his demise. On the final hand, the chips went to the center after a 5-8-J-4 flop and turn. Zhang pushed his remaining stacks to the center and, with the chance to eliminate his formidable opponent, Silver made the call. Zhang was ahead, his 8-3 topping Silver’s K-10, but one of the two overs came to the rescue for Silver. The King on the river completely flipped the fortunes, taking the double up from Zhang and giving the championship to Silver.
1. Max Silver, $172,645
2. Guowei Zhang, $106,694
3. Mickey Craft, $69,789
4. Ayman Qutami, $46,871
5. Lena Wang, $32,345
6. Georgios Kapalas, $22,952