Everyone knows that Phil Hellmuth has the record for the most World Series of Poker bracelets won (15), but when it comes to the best of those that have never won a piece of the coveted jewelry, it is a lively debate. On Saturday, three men who were arguably atop the list for the dubious honor of “best player to never win a WSOP bracelet” – the United Kingdom’s Stephen Chidwick and Luke Schwartz and U. S. pro Ari Engel – removed their names from that list by winning their first WSOP bracelets.
Chidwick Tops Strong Final Table in $25K PLO High Roller
Chidwick was in his favorite environment – the High Roller tournament – when he came to the final table as the undoubted chip leader in the $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller event. Chidwick was one of two men over the ten million chip mark with 12.975 million, joined only by Alex Epstein’s 10.8 million stack. After that, the chips were a bit scarce but not the talent, as four time WSOP bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi (5.525 million), Wasim Korkis (4.225 million), James Chen (3.1 million) eight time WSOP bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel (2.95 million) and Matthew Gonzales (1.1 million) filled out the other seats.
Although Epstein would pull within a million chips on a few occasions and Chen would pass him at one point (after taking a 3.6 million-plus pot from Epstein), Chidwick never would show any moment that he wasn’t in control of the action. He eliminated Epstein in fifth place, Mizrachi in fourth and Gonzales in third to enter heads up play against Chen with nearly a ten million chip lead. Although Chen and Chidwick were quite stocked with chips for a lengthy battle, it would only take about an hour for Chidwick to whittle Chen’s stack to nothing.
On the final hand, the chips went to the center on a K-7-6 flop with Chidwick’s two pair (K-Q-7-6, with plenty of draws to a boat) thoroughly crushing Chen’s A-Q-8-8. Although Chen was dominated, he was live with possibilities of a runner-runner flush or finding another eight, the turn 10♣ didn’t help him any. Looking for the final eight in the deck, the river deuce didn’t do anything except send Chidwick into the Winner’s Circle as the latest member of the WSOP bracelet club.
1. Stephen Chidwick, $1,618,417
2. James Chen, $1,000,253
3. Matthew Gonzales, $699,364
4. Robert Mizrachi, $497,112
5. Alex Epstein, $359,320
6. Erik Seidel, $264,186
7. Wasim Korkis, $197,637
8. Ka Kwan Lau, $150,483*
(* – eliminated on Friday, part of official WSOP final table)
Engel Emerges from Sizeable Field in $2500 NLHE
As much as Chidwick is recognized from his play in High Rollers, Ari Engel is recognized for doing it the “old fashioned” way – through the sizeable fields in smaller buy in events. After coming through the final 26 players of a 996-player field on Saturday, Engel was able to pick up his first bracelet in Event #48, the $2500 No Limit Hold’em tournament.
Engel made the most out of coming to the final day with the chip lead as he watched fellow pros like Barny Boatman, Kristen Bicknell, James Carroll, Mark Radoja, Jose Brito, and Kenny Hallaert all fall before the final table began. Even after reaching the final table, Engel had to deal with the likes of David ‘Bakes’ Baker, Josh Arieh and Ryan Olisar separating him from the championship.
Engel was unflappable through the entire day on Saturday. Even though he would drop from the lead by the dinner break, he got back into the fray by eliminating Olisar. But Engel would face his biggest challenge from Pablo Melogno, who would power his way into a dominant lead over Engel when heads up play began.
Facing a 3:1 deficit (11.195 million to 3.745 million), Engel needed to pull from every ounce of his 15 years of experience at the WSOP to make his comeback. He would get the stacks close to even before the penultimate hand of the tournament all but sealed the tournament for Engel.
On Hand 67, Melogno raised off the button and Engel, not to be bullied, pushed out a re-raise that Melogno called. A K-10-4 flop drew a continuation bet from Engel and Melogno turned the pressure back with a re-raise. Engel was ready, however, to make his stand, pushing his stack to the center and Melogno immediately called. Engel’s A-Q was behind Melogno’s K-9 after the flop, but another heart on the turn gave Engel some outs to the flush as well as the straight. That magic hit on the river, with a J♦ spiking the river, to give the hand to Engel and leave Melogno with scraps. The tournament would end on the very next hand to seal Engel’s first WSOP bracelet win.
1. Ari Engel, $427,399
2. Pablo Melogno, $264,104
3. Wilbern Hoffman, $186,392
4. Ben Keeline, $133,306
5. David ‘Bakes’ Baker, $96,632
6. James Hughes, $71,010
7. Truyen Nguyen, $52,909
8. Ryan Olisar, $39,980
9. Josh Arieh, $30,643
‘FullFlush’ Schwartz Outlasts Triple Draw Field
Once known as one of the “bad boys” of poker, Luke ‘FullFlush’ Schwartz has mellowed a bit with age. Perhaps that mellowing helped him in a very difficult discipline of poker – Deuce to Seven Triple Draw – and earned him his biggest prize of his career, a WSOP bracelet, early this morning at the 2019 WSOP.
Although the field was only 100 players, it was stocked with the biggest sharks in the game. The final table alone featured Calvin Anderson, Yueqi Zhu, Mark Gregorich and Johannes Becker, but it was the three-way battle between Schwartz, Becker and George Wolff that captured the fancy of the WSOP railbirds. For over five hours, the trio would slug it out, with Becker eventually falling at the hands of Schwartz.
Schwartz held a good lead over Wolff going to heads up and, perhaps fortunately, the match wasn’t a marathon like three-handed play. Schwartz would never let Wolff even sniff the lead, taking the fight to Wolff. He would seal the championship by making an eight-seven low that topped Wolff’s own eight-seven low (the difference? Schwartz’s 8-7-6-4-2 topped Wolff’s 8-7-6-5-2), taking home his first WSOP bracelet and a decent payday.
1. Luke Schwartz, $273,336
2. George Wolff, $168,936
3. Johannes Becker, $116,236
4. Mark Gregorich, $81,635
5. Yueqi Zhu, $58,547
6. Calvin Anderson, $42,898