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Ben Yu (cover image) who lives in Henderson, Nevada has been known more for his prowess in mixed games, Limit Hold ‘em and Omaha than No-Limit Hold ‘em. So when the two-time bracelet champion entered the 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Event #77: $50,000 NLHE High Roller and went on to best a field of 128 players, many heads were turned. Not only did Yu reach the finale, he also outlasted Sean Winter in the heads-up play to bag his career-third bracelet along with the first-place prize of $1,650,773!
Yu’s first two bracelets at WSOP came in the 2015 WSOP $10,000 Limit Hold ‘em Championship in 2015 and the $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship in 2017. This year, Yu has been pretty active in NLHE events, and cashed in five different NLHE tournaments including the Main Event where he finished 57th for $57,010, and not to forget, Event #73 $1,000 Double Stack NLHE where he reached the final table, finishing fourth for $63,327.
“This is pretty unreal. I mean a couple days ago I was in Day 5 of the Main Event. I just busted and I wasn’t that bummed compared to a lot of people being bummed out of the Main Event. I did make a final table in the 1K and got fourth place there. And I mean I thought that would be my best chance at that bracelet again this summer. I’ve had a really good summer. I’ve run really well, been very fortunate. So I just thought you know summer is about to be over,”Yu said, after his victory, adding, ”Pretty content with it. And this is just like the super special golden cherry on top of everything.”
Yu who was once a professional dancer felt he didn’t have the poker instincts that many do, so he could at best train to make better decisions. He also admitted he’s been working on his game, training with Justin Bonomo.
“I don’t think I have the best poker instincts that some of the absolute sickos do, and I really just need to get by on studying and knowing exactly what my hand ranges should be in every spot,” he said, adding, “And I think a lot of people think that.”
“I actually wrote a message to Justin Bonomo, and I wrote ‘I like playing high rollers. I cash for more money and people irrationally think I’m better at poker because of it. I get to eat free good food using comps. I would like to do this more often and I’m willing to put in whatever work is required for me to do so.’ And he told me to study more PIO solver and it sounds really boring like this is what it takes to win at the high rollers nowadays for the most part,”Yu said.
With fast paced action right from the start, the event saw 31 players return on Day 2 out of the 128 who had registered to compete.
Byron Kaverman, Juan Pardo Dominguez, Sam Soverel, Daniel Negreanu, Taylor Black and Scott Seiver were eliminated empty-handed with Seiver busting out as the bubble boy after he shoved ace-ten into Manig Loeser’s ace-jack and failed to catch up.
Others who were railed through the course of the day include Ognjen Sekularac (20th for $74,623), Stefan Schillhabel (17th for $74,623) and Chris Hunichen (16th for $84,073).
Matthias Eibinger (14th for $97,160) who entered Day 2 with the chip lead dropped out after he suffered a major setback in a hand where his aces were cracked by Jake Schindler’s set of sixes on a ten-high flop and he couldn’t make up in the subsequent hands.
Soon, Mustapha Kanit (13th for $97,160) and Ryan Reiss (12th for $115,102) were also eliminated. Jason Koon (11th for $115,102) was eliminated next after he ran his flopped trips against Yu’s runner-runner flush, thus ending his tournament run.
The unofficial final table was reached after Benjamin Pollak (10th for 139,699) was shown the door by Yu in a hand where Yu shoved form the small blind with jack-five and Pollak was in the big blind with pocket eights but Yu caught a jack on the flop.
Unofficial Final Table Chip Counts
1. Ben Yu – 7,700,000
2. Nick Petrangelo – 5,100,000
3. Manig Loeser – 3,650,000
4. Igor Kurganov – 3,400,000
5. Jake Schindler – 3,400,000
6. Elio Fox – 3,025,000
7. Sean Winter – 2,850,000
8. John Racener – 2,340,000
9. Isaac Haxton – 1,200,000
The departure of Elio Fox (9th for $139,699) whose pocket sixes lost out to the pocket jacks of Winter, with the latter flopping a set, got the action going at the official eight-handed final table.
Final Table Recap
One hand into the official final table and Jake Schindler was eliminated when he raised to 350,000 leaving just 25,000 behind. The action folded to Haxton who 3-bet from the big blind, cornering Schindler to put it all in. Schindler pushed the remainder of his chips in the middle and both players tabled their cards, Haxton with against Schindler’s . The board ran and Haxton’s pair of threes were enough to send Schindler out in eighth place.
John Racener then shoved for 945,000 on the button and Haxton re-shoved from the small blind. Racener tabled vs. Haxton’s . On a board, Racener hit the rail in seventh place.
Soon the action folded around to the blinds. Manig Loeser tanked for a bit before betting. Winter moved all in for 2,700,000 from the big blind and Loeser quickly called, putting himself at risk. He turned over against Winter`s . The board kept Winter ahead with two pair while Loeser left for the payout desk for a sixth place finish.
Igor Kurganov was ousted in fifth place in a confrontation with Winter, where the latter raised from the button to 1,500,000 and Kurganov moved all in from the big blind for 3,450,000. The action returned to Winter who called. He turned over while Kurganov tabled . While Winter was leading, the flop fell and the turn was the that changed nothing. The river put two pair on the board but Winter’s two pair with sixes and kings was superior and he took down the pot sending Kurganov to the rail.
Isaac Haxton was the next to depart in fourth place. The elimination hand saw Yu opening with a raise of 750,000 from the cutoff, Haxton moved all in for 3,700,000 and Yu made the call. Haxton tabled against Yu’s . Yu had the better kicker and Haxton needed to catch up but the flop changed nothing for him though he did pick up extra outs on the turn . The river sealed Haxton’s fate at fourth place.
Next, Nick Petrangelo opened to 800,000 on the button and Yu shoved from the big blind. Petrangelo then called, Yu tabled against Petrangelo’s . The board ran and Petrangelo was eliminated in third place.
The heads-up match was a short duel and the final hand saw Sean Winter limping from the small blind and Yu moved all in. Winter made the call and tabled while Yu turned over . The flop kept Winter ahead but the on the turn brought Yu a pair and even before the river was dealt, Winter congratulated Yu who shook hands with the event runner-up, claiming the bracelet and the tournament title!
Final Table Results (USD)
1. Ben Yu – $1,650,773
2. Sean Winter – $1,020,253
3. Nick Petrangelo – $720,103
4. Isaac Haxton – $518,882
5. Igor Kurganov – $381,874
6. Manig Loeser – $287,174
7. John Racener – $220,777
8. Jake Schindler – $173,604
Content and image courtesy: WSOP.com.
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