He wasn’t even supposed to be here today

In movies, a common trope is a missed opportunity that turns into an even better opportunity gained. When one window closes, another opens and all that. The main character misses their flight, but meets the woman of his dreams in the airport lounge. You know the drill. On Tuesday, the main character at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida just so happened to also turn a missed flight into the moment of a lifetime when Ilyas Muradi won the 2021 World Poker Tour (WPT) Lucky Hearts Poker Open.

Overcoming a field of 1,572 other entries, Muradi would not have even been there had he been on time for his flight out of town. Lemons out of lemonade, then. Back at the casino, Muradi entered a $400 satellite, won his seat into the tournament, and promptly got his name tattooed on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup. That’s good stuff right there.

“This is amazing,” Muradi told WPT.com afterward, “it’s making me want to cry.”

That’s understandable, especially considering he had less than $1,000 in recorded live tournament winnings going into the tournament and emerged $809,515.

Muradi entered the final day second in chips out of the remaining seven players and quickly doubled-up the short stack. He was still in solid shape with 8.025 million chips, though, as nobody was really running away with the tourney yet.

14-hour grind of a day

It was a slow day overall, with the first elimination not coming until about three hours into play. Muradi, for the most part held steady, but his turning point came against Ronnie Bardah with four players remaining. Bardah raised to 550,000 with K-Q of clubs and Muradi three-bet to 1.3 million with two black Aces. Bardah called and the flop came down 5-3-2 with two clubs, giving Bardah a flush draw. Bardah checked, Muradi bet 1.550 million, Bardah check-raised to 9.15 million, putting Muradi all-in, and Muradi made the call. The 4 on the turn gave Muradi a straight, but really, didn’t change the situation, as Bardah still needed his flush to stay alive. It did not come on the river and just like that Muradi was the chip leader with 21.525 million chips.

It eventually came down to Muradi versus Robel Andemichael, the same short stack he doubled-up at the beginning of the day, heads-up for the title. They were nearly tied in chips, with Andemichael holding a slight edge.

Andemichael extended his lead for a bit, but then Muradi took over and didn’t look back. On the final hand, Andemichael was getting short compared to the blinds, so he moved all-in pre-flop for 14.3 million chips with A-6 of diamonds. Muradi called with two red Fours. He dodged everything, including every red card in the deck, to take the pot and just his second record cash of his live tournament career.

“Anyone’s dream can come true,” Muradi said afterward, warning all in attendance that “You guys will be hearing a lot more from me.”

2021 World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open – Final Table Results

  1. Ilyas Muradi – $809,515
  2. Robel Andemichael – $529,690
  3. Ronnie Bardah – $392,430
  4. Francis Margaglione – $293,510
  5. Jesse Lonis – $223,895
  6. Tsz Shing – $168,990
  7. Andy Hwang – $115,630

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