There are 47 players who have won at least four bracelets at the World Series of Poker. After winning Event #20: $1,500 Seven-Card Stud last night, long-time poker pro Eli Elezra is one of them.
This was Elezra’s first WSOP win since 2015, when he won this exact same event. His first bracelet came in 2007 in $3,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better and his second in 2013 in the $2,500 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw event. Elezra came agonizingly close to another bracelet last year, finishing second and third in Omaha Hi-Low events.
The $1,500 Seven-Card Stud tournament was an interesting one in that for one of the lower-priced events at the World Series of Poker, it had a relatively low turnout of 285 people. At the same time, that should not have been all that unexpected, as Seven-Card Stud is a bit low on the popularity ladder, so typically the only ones who show up for this game are players who really enjoy it and/or are really good at it. “Specialty” games (meaning not Hold’em and to a lesser extent, Omaha) tend to have the strongest fields, even if they are smaller.
And that was certainly on display at the final table, which was jam packed with talent. In addition to Elezra, there were such poker luminaries as David Singer, WPT Season XIII Player of the Year Anthony Zinno, WSOP Circuit ring machine Valentin Vornicu, Rep Porter, and Scott Seiver (Seiver did not make the broadcast six-handed final table).
Despite the formidable final table, Elezra had a premonition. In his interview with WSOP.com after the fact, he said, “When we went to Cabo, I told my buddies, I’m gonna win a bracelet this year and I’m gonna win it in stud.”
I always find it interesting to look at the chip counts to start a final table and pretend I am some analytic genius, determining what these stack sizes will mean the rest of the way. My back of the napkin analysis on this final table was that Elezra and Zinno were going to meet heads-up. How did I come up with this genius insight? The two were basically tied to start the six-handed final table, Elezra with 1.221 million chips and Zinno with 1.219 million. Only one other player had a stack in the-six figures, and that was Vornicu with 262,000. The other three had 61,000, 60,000, and 30,000. Genius, I am.
And I was right. See? Amazing.
Going into heads-up, Elezra had nearly a two-to-one chip lead on Zinno, 1.900 million to 953,000. As these matches often go, Elezra extended his lead, then Zinno roared back to take the lead himself, but you obviously know who won, so we don’t need to say that Elezra regained the lead. And guess what? The lead flip-flopped again, but Elezra hit a huge hand when both players paired on sixth street but Elezra forced a fold out of Zinno to go up 3-to-1.
From there, Zinno couldn’t get back. Both players raised on fourth street until Zinno was all-in. Each had an open-ender, but Zinno’s was higher, so had an advantage. Elezra hit his on fifth street and Zinno was never able to get a straight card that he needed and that was all she wrote.
Elezra complemented Zinno afterward, the two showing genuine affection for each other, saying that he simply had a few decades of experience on his younger counterpart.
“I think in the end, I was mostly lucky because Anthony’s a really good player.”