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The moment we have all been waiting for – the news that we were praying to hear; yes, that time has come! Our very own Young Gun Abhinav Iyer clinched the elusive solo gold bracelet at the most special series of the year – the 50th annual World Series of Poker (WSOP)! Last year, Paawan Bansal had come close to capturing the title in this very event but had ultimately lost out to former Main Event Champion Joe Cada, finishing runner-up instead for $378,765 (~₹2.60 Crores). Up until a few moments ago, this was the highest score by an Indian at the WSOP, but Iyer has created history by not only winning the coveted gold bracelet, but also by securing a personal best score of $565,346 (~₹3.87 Crores) – which happens to be the highest score by an Indian at the series till date!
There have been several close calls this year with many members of Team India coming excruciatingly close to claiming the gold bracelet. Raghav Bansal and PokerGuru Ambassador Ashish Ahuja came the closest in Event #42: $600 Mixed NL Hold’em/PL Omaha Deepstack 8-Handed. While Bansal had bagged his best score at the WSOP by finishing third for $88,410 (~₹61.64 Lakhs), Ahuja locked in a personal-best $48,914 (~₹34.10 Lakhs) by finishing fifth.
July 14 saw another dynamic duo from Team India make the final table in Event #82: $1,500 NLHE Double Stack, Kunal Punjwani and Kalyan Chakravarthy. Chakravarthy had entered as the shortest stack on the final day and busted out in eighth place for $56,850 (~₹39 Lakhs). Punjwani, on the other hand, suffered a brutal beat which ended his incredible run prematurely in seventh place for $74,401 (~₹51 Lakhs).
With the 50th anniversary series just days away from wrapping up proceedings, Team India was running out of opportunities to win the prestigious bracelet. The Closer was, in fact, the last chance for the Indian battalion to claim the most sought-after prize in the poker community and our Young Gun Iyer triumphed over some of the biggest names in the industry to bring home India’s very first solo bracelet! Though numerous Indian-origin players have previously posted scores in excess of $1 Million, especially Vivek Rajkumar who took down the 2008 Borgata Poker Open for $1,424,500, incidentally, Iyer’s score of $565,346 (~₹3.87 Crores) is not only the highest score by an Indian at the WSOP, but also the most an Indian has won at a poker tournament in recent history.
Iyer had a fantastic start to the year when he took down the 2019 Asian Poker Tour (APT) Vietnam Main Event for VND 2,269,092,000 (~₹69.51 Lakhs). Iyer, who is likely visiting WSOP for the second year running, was one of the early arrivals at the series and had done well even before this win. He already had six scores at the 2019 WSOP before even entering this event and this victory has taken his cumulative winnings at the 2019 WSOP to $585,548 (~₹4.01 Crores), which now includes the biggest prize of the poker world – the WSOP gold bracelet! He also ran deep in Event #26: $2,620 No-Limit Hold ‘em Marathon, finishing 75th for $5,444 (~₹3.78 Lakhs), as well as Event #19: Millionaire Maker – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em where he placed 133rd for $8,893 (~₹6.17 Lakhs).
Decimating a field of 2,800 entries, Iyer had charged his way into the nine-handed final table in The Closer with 15.87 Million in chips. He dominated the final table proceedings and also eliminated Jason Reels, en route to his final showdown against Sammy Lafleur. Iyer held a 2:1 chip lead over Lafleur at the start of the heads-up play which the latter failed to overcome, ultimately losing the title to Iyer.
In the post-event interview, Iyer talked about the exponential growth of poker in the country saying, “Now more and more people are getting into poker. It’s growing and I hope this [win] can enhance that growth.”
He expressed delight at the support he received from the Indian rail present at the series, “The Indian rail was pretty great … I feel really proud.”
When asked what he intends to do with his winnings, the Indian champion said, “I just want to put it in the bank. I don’t want to be a huge spender. Just keep playing, keep grinding, go to the next stop.”
Team India’s Participation
Besides Iyer, six more Indians cashed in the event. WSOP first-timer Siddharth Mundada was the last of the Indian challengers to be eliminated before the final table was convened. He finished 73rd for $5,956 (~₹4.08 Lakhs). Kalyan Chakravarthy was another notable Indian who ran deep in The Closer and that too after a spectacular performance in the $1.5K NLHE Double Stack where he finished eighth for $56,850 (~₹39 Lakhs). Chakravarthy managed to crack the top 100 in this event, netting $4,401 (~₹3.01 Lakhs) for a 98th place finish.
Team India Cashes at The Closer
|Abhinav Iyer||1st||$565,346 - ₹3.87 Crores|
|Siddharth Mundada||73rd||$5,956 - ₹4.08 Lakhs|
|Kalyan Chakravarthy||98th||$4,401 - ₹3.01 Lakhs|
|Himmat Singh||176th||$3,500 - ₹2.39 Lakhs|
|Shashank Jain||189th||$3,500 - ₹2.39 Lakhs|
|Chirag Patel||239th||$2,744 - ₹1.88 Lakhs|
|Nishant Sharma||275th||$2,530 - ₹1.73 Lakhs|
Event #84: The Closer – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em – Day 2
One hundred ninety-six runners came back to Amazon Room of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino to play down to the champion. The Day 2 field included five Indians with Young Gun Abhinav Iyer (782,000 – 49 big blinds) leading the charge. He was first spotted in Day 2’s live coverage when he sent the start-of-the-day chip leader Tam Nguyen to the rail. The board was open , and it was a four-way pot with a small side pot brewing when Nguyen decided to move all-in. The big blind checked, and Iyer led out for 350,000. Jacob Seale called while the big blind check-folded.
Iyer raked in the pot with a turned flush, while Nguyen hit the rail in 34th place for $15,018.
Immediately after that, Iyer eliminated Jeff Gross when the latter’s ran into Iyer’s . Gross was dismissed in 32nd place for $15,018, while Iyer took down a monster pot to get to 6.3 Million in chips.
When the final three tables were redrawn, Iyer held the biggest stack of 6.9 Million. He went on a rampage eliminating Robert Angeleri (22nd for $18,586), Rex Clinkscales (15th for $29,260) and JC Tran (10th for $37,125) before the final table was convened. (Angeleri’s were cracked by Iyer’s which bettered to a pair of jacks. Clinkscales’ pocket kings were bested by Iyer’s which clipped an ace on the board. While Tran’s were outlasted by Iyer’s which flopped a set of fives.)
Iyer entered the nine-handed final table as the chip leader with a stack of 15.87 Million.
The other four Indians who had entered Day 2 along with Iyer saw their runs come to an end well before the final table was reached. The first player to fall from the Indian squad was Shashank Jain. He had come in with only 3 BB`s and not surprisingly, hit the rail at 189th place for $3,500 (~₹2.39 Lakhs). Himmat Singh followed Jain out in 176th place for $3,500 (~₹2.39 Lakhs).
Fresh off his eighth-place finish in the $1.5K NLHE Double Stack for $56,850 (~₹39 Lakhs), Kalyan Chakravarthy had advanced to Day 2 of The Closer with 493,000 (31 big blinds) in chips. He was first spotted in the live coverage when he eliminated Skylar Stillwagon from the tournament. The latter’s was no match for Chakravarthy’s , leading to Stillwagon’s exit in 160th place for $3,500. Meanwhile, Chakravarthy’s stack rose to 1.16 Million. However, his run ultimately came to an end in 98th place for $4,401 (~₹3.01 Lakhs).
WSOP debutant Siddharth Mundada was the last Indian to be eliminated before the final table. He had carried a stack of 433,000 (27 big blinds) to Day 2. Though not much was reported of his journey on Day 2, we did get information of one big pot that he lost to Dragos Trofimov when Mundada’s were run over by Trofimov’s , taking the former’s stack down to 180,000. Mundada was unable to recover from the loss and ultimately hit the rail in 73rd place for $5,956 (~₹4.08 Lakhs).
Other notables who finished in the money include Ryan Leng (18th for $23,214), Steven Kelly (21st for $18,586), Anatolii Zyrin (40th for $12,248), Dylan Linde (52nd for $10,083), Ari Engel (55th for $8,379), Mukul Pahuja (56th for $8,379) and Kristen Bicknell (70th for $7,030).
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Abhinav Iyer – 15,875,000
2. Sergio Aguilar – 11,825,000
3. Shaun Deeb – 11,675,000
4. Sammy Lafleur – 9,925,000
5. Carlos Chang – 7,775,000
6. Adam Johnson – 4,325,000
7. Steve Yea – 3,600,000
8. Patrick Eskandar – 2,650,000
9. Jason Reels – 2,400,000
Final Table Recap
The final table resumed following a 60-minute dinner break. The first elimination on the final table came quite early. Shaun Deeb raised to 400,000, and Abhinav Iyer called, while Jason Reels moved all-in. Deeb folded his hand, and Iyer called tabling . Reels turned over . The board ran and Iyer held on, as Reels walked out in ninth place.
Five hands later, it was Steve Yea‘s turn to depart. Yea pitted his against Adam Johnson’s . The board bricked and Johnson’s pocket tens eliminated Yea out in eighth place.
Four-time bracelet winner Shaun Deeb saw his run come to an end on the 27th hand when his were defeated by Sergio Aguilar’s . Deeb’s hunt for the fifth bracelet came to an end in seventh place.
On the very next hand, Adam Johnson raised all-in holding , and Sammy Lafleur called with . The community cards showed , and Lafleur flopped two pairs of aces and queens, eliminating Johnson in sixth place.
On the 31st hand, Patrick Eskandar‘s locked horns with Lafleur’s . The rundown and was of no help to either player. Lafleur’s ace kicker got him the pot, thereby ending Eskandar’s deep run in fifth place.
Down to four-handed play, Iyer was still in the lead with 25.50 Million, while the shortest stack was Carlos Chang with 8.1 Million. Soon enough, Chang hit the rail when his were outlasted by Lafleur’s on the 53rd hand. The runout gave Lafleur a rivered two pair busting Chang in fourth place.
A little while after the start of level 36, Sergio Aguilar lost a chunk of his stack to Iyer. Iyer limped, and Aguilar raised to 1.7 Million from the big blind. Action folded back to Iyer, who called to see the flop open . Iyer check-called a bet of 2.6 Million from Aguilar, and the turn brought . Iyer yet again check-called a bet of 4.1 Million and the on the river completed the board. Iyer shoved all-in for 16.275 Million. Aguilar went into the tank for a few minutes but ultimately decided to call. Iyer turned over for a king-high straight and doubled up through Aguilar. Iyer’s stack swelled to 49 Million, while Aguilar was left with just 3 Million.
After that, it was easy pickings for Lafleur as on the very next hand, Aguilar opened blind on blind for his last 2.175 Million and Lafleur called. Aguilar showed , while Lafleur tabled . The board blanked, and Aguilar was eliminated in third place.
Abhinav Iyer (54,000,000) and Sammy Lafleur (11,100,000) entered the heads-up confrontation with the former enjoying a massive lead over the latter. The final showdown lasted for nearly an hour, and Iyer retained his chip lead till the very end.
On the 81st hand, which was also the final hand of the event, Lafleur limped the button and Iyer announced all-in. Lafleur promptly called, and both players tabled their cards.
The flop fell , and though Iyer had the outs for a gutshot straight, Lafleur was a 58% favorite to win the pot. The turn saw the tables turn in Iyer’s favor as he picked up a stronger pair of tens. Despite the Canadian rail screaming for a seven, the on the river sealed Lafleur’s fate in the runner-up spot. Iyer took down the pot to etch his name in poker history as the first Indian to win a solo WSOP gold bracelet. He also collected a record-breaking $565,346 (~₹3.87 Crores) in first-place prize money!
Final Table Results (USD)
1. Abhinav Iyer – $565,346
2. Sammy Lafleur – $349,417
3. Sergio Aguilar – $256,298
4. Carlos Chang – $189,584
5. Patrick Eskandar – $141,432
6. Adam Johnson – $106,418
7. Shaun Deeb – $80,766
8. Steve Yea – $61,834
9. Jason Reels – $47,758
*Report has been updated on July 16 at 2:30 PM (IST)
Content & Images Courtesy: World Series of Poker
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