In what was certainly one of the stranger final tables in the lengthy history of the event, Norway’s Espen Jorstad was able to enter the history books for the World Series of Poker. Utilizing a solid, aggressive style, Jorstad was able to defeat Australia’s Adrian Attenborough to capture the World Championship of poker in winning the $10,000 WSOP Championship Event. Along the way, he picked up the specially crafted WSOP World Champion’s bracelet and a $10 million payday.
From Three to Two…
The penultimate day of the 2022 WSOP Championship Event came on Saturday, Day 9 for the tournament, and three men were vying for the title. Leading the way was Jorstad, who had more than half the chips in play with his massive 298 million chip stack. Attenborough was trying to keep pace with his 149.8 million in chips, while Argentina’s Michael Duek pulled the short straw as the short stack with his still dangerous 72.1 million in chips.
Duek knew that he would have to get active from the start and he did just that. He would use a three-bet all in on only the third hand of the day to force out his opposition and creep close to the 100 million mark. But that would be the highlight of Duek’s day as he would depart soon afterwards.
On Hand 196, Attenborough popped a raise into the center of the table and Duek responded with a three-bet to 23 million chips. Attenborough only called and the twosome saw a Q-10-5 rainbow flop. There was no action on the flop but, once a K♠ on the turn completed all four suits on the table, Duek woke up with a bet. Attenborough was not convinced, however, as he made the call to see the river.
The river 3♠ did not seem to help anyone, but it would see Duek eventually put out most of his stack with a 52 million river bet. Attenborough quickly moved all in and Duek cursed as he made the crying call with a K-8 for the turned top pair of Kings. Attenborough indeed had gotten there, turning up his A-J for the turned Broadway straight to eliminate Duek in third place and set the stage for the Final Showdown.
From Two to One…Eventually
At the start of heads-up play, Jorstad held roughly a 50 million chip lead over Attenborough (284.5 million to 235.8 million), so there were plenty of opportunities for the players to mix it up a bit. Instead, viewers on PokerGO were treated to one of the lengthiest tank jobs in the history of tournament poker. It also was a demonstration of why tournament poker will never be a televised spectator sport.
Jorstad raised the betting pre-flop and Attenborough called out of the big blind to see a K-10-8 flop. Attenborough now fired a bet at the pot for 16 million, which was called by Jorstad, as the duo saw an innocuous four on the turn. Attenborough fired another bullet, this time for 58 million, and Jorstad simply called again.
Completely lost in the hand, Attenborough checked a second eight on the river, with the board now reading K-10-8-4-8. Sensing weakness (?), Jorstad put a large enough bet in on the river that Attenborough would have to go all-in if he made the call – it was, indeed, a decision for his tournament life.
Viewers on the PokerGO stream saw that, in fact, Attenborough was dominated from the start. Jorstad had raised with K-Q, with the flopped king increasing his edge and, once the board paired on the river, locking him in as the victor. Attenborough had caught a piece of the board, however, with his J-4 that gave him a lesser two pair.
What came next has been massively debated in the poker world. Attenborough agonized over whether to call off the remainder of his chips with what, heads-up, was a decent hand. He had no clue as to where he was in the situation, especially after two calls from Jorstad of big bets, and he wondered whether he was being bluffed or not. At the two-minute mark of his lengthy tank, Attenborough actually called out the exact holdings of Jorstad, the K-Q.
But the tank continued. For over 20 minutes, Attenborough batted the decision around in his head before eventually tossing his cards into the muck. It has become the most discussed fold in the history of the WSOP since Sammy Farha folded his cards in the heads-up match against Chris Moneymaker’s bluff in 2003.
All was not lost, though. Attenborough, now down more than 3:1 against Jorstad, doubled up a few hands later to take a surprising lead, but Jorstad just as quickly came back to reestablish his edge. It all led up to another lengthy tank by Attenborough on Hand 215 that would eventually end the tournament.
A 4-2-2 flop saw Attenborough check-raise Jorstad to 14 million, only to have Jorstad three-bet the action to 32 million that Attenborough called rather quickly. An eight came on the turn, which saw Attenborough check-call a 62 million bet from Jorstad, and a Queen would complete the board. Attenborough again checked and, after Jorstad put out enough chips to put Attenborough all in, the Aussie again went deep in the tank.
While it was a long thought, it was not as long as the previous epic. Attenborough considered his options, then eventually said “f**k it” and made the call with the same hand he had previously – a J-4. Once again, Jorstad had him from the start; the Norwegian turned up a Q-2 for flopped trips and a rivered boat to defeat Attenborough and capture poker’s greatest championship.
1. Espen Jorstad (Norway), $10 million
2. Adrian Attenborough (Australia), $6 million
3. Michael Duek (Argentina), $4 million
4. John Eames (United Kingdom), $3 million
5. Matija Dobric (Croatia), $2,250,000
6. Jeffrey Farnes (USA), $1,750,000
7. Aaron Duczak (Canada), $1,350,000
8. Phillippe Souki (United Kingdom), $1,075,000
9. Matthew Su (USA), $850,675
With the victory, Jorstad becomes the first Norwegian player to capture poker’s World Championship. He also bested his fellow countryman Felix Stephenson, who was the runner up to Martin Jacobson in the 2014 WSOP Championship Event. The $10,000,000 prize also catapulted Jorstad up the all-time money rankings, putting him in 108th place all time (before the WSOP, Jorstad had only $271,155 in career earnings) and sending him to the top of Norway’s all-time list (again over Stephenson).
Even though the Championship Event is in the books, the festivities regarding the WSOP are not over. The Tournament of Champions, featuring the champions from 2021-22 WSOP Circuit Events and bracelet winners from the 2022 WSOP schedule in a freeroll, is set to begin on Tuesday, and there are a couple of bracelet events left on the roster. For all purposes, though, the 2022 WSOP has concluded and congratulations to a well deserving champion, Espen Jorstad.
(Photo courtesy of PokerGO.com)