21-Year-Old Bryan Campanello Wins $2,500 Razz Event

Bryan Campanello decided to play the Razz event instead of wasting money on a night in Las Vegas, a decision that worked out well for him Thursday night as he won his first bracelet. (Tim Fiorvanti photo)

Bryan Campanello decided to play the Razz event instead of wasting money on a night in Las Vegas, a decision that worked out well for him Thursday night as he won his first bracelet. (Tim Fiorvanti photo)

There are poker games that play well to a crowd, and then there’s Razz. What’s ordinarily a quiet game played by older mixed-game specialists became something very different Thursday night as a raucous crowd watched 21-year-old Bryan Campanello defeat David Bach heads-up to win the $2,500 Razz event at the 2013 WSOP.

Campanello won his first bracelet and $178,052 for his efforts, after joining the field for the Razz event on something of a whim.

“I felt really confident even though I don’t play [a lot of] Razz,” said Campanello. “I was in the $5,000 Six-Max and lost a pretty big flip right after dinner after grinding for seven-and-a-half hours of No Limit Hold’em. I didn’t want to go do normal Vegas things and blow a bunch of money.”

His rail was filled with dozens of Campanello’s friends, fellow professional poker players who livened up an otherwise boring situation.

“It’s not the most exciting game in the world,” said Campanello, “Especially for a bunch of people who grew up only playing No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. Luckily they’re all good friends and I’ve been there to support them whenever they’ve been deep in tournaments, so they came out to support me today.”

Campanello took control during four-handed play and all but cruised to victory. He took out Sebastian Pauli in fourth place and James Wheatley in third, giving Campanello a big chiplead going into heads-up play against Bach. Bach made several pushes at a comeback and closed the gap to less than two-to-one at one point. Campanello caught fire again, though, and chopped Bach back to just a few big bets.

On the final hand, Campanello brought in with the 4, Bach completed with the 3 and Campanello raised him back. Bach called and got a 4, while Campanello paired up with the 4. He called a bet from Bach, who got the K on fifth street while Campanello drew a 6. They bet and raised enough to get Bach’s last bet in and the hands were turned up.

Campanello: A 3 / 4 4 6
Bach: 9 5 / 3 4 K

Bach paired his 3 on sixth street, while Campanello took the lead with the T. Campanello looked first on seventh street and turned over the 8, giving him an unbeatable eight-six low as Bach paired the 5. Bach stood up and congratulated Campanello, who was immediately rushed by his friends as they congratulated him on his victory.

The process of reaching the official final table is normally a long, drawn-out process, with the final two tables combining to form a single table of nine. That was anything but the case Thursday, with the playdown from 10 to eight taking exactly one hand. Pauli took out a pair of bracelet winners in Frankie O’Dell and Randy Ohel in one fell swoop, making a seven-low by sixth street to seal the fates of both O’Dell and Ohel.

Ismael Bojang was desperately short-stacked, with only Bach starting the final table with less chips. Rick Fuller completed with a five, Brent Keller called with a deuce and Bojang, who also had a five, called. Pauli raised with an ace, Fuller folded and Bojang and Keller came along. Keller got a three and bet, Bojang put his last few chips in after getting a queen, Pauli called with a king, Keller raised and Pauli called. Keller bet Pauli out on fifth street, the former getting a four and the latter a second king.

Bojang: 7-3/5-Q-J
Keller: 7-3/2-3-4

Keller paired his three but had a much better draw, making jack-seven on sixth street while Bojang made a jack-nine. Keller flipped over a six on the final card, giving him an unbeatable eight-six low, leaving Bojang drawing dead as he mucked his last card and headed to the rail in eighth place.

Keller would lose all of those chips and some of his own over the next 90 minutes, but he’d get into a pot with Fuller where he boosted his stack again. Fuller completed with a five showing, Keller raised with an ace and Fuller put his last few chips into the pot. Fuller was behind with K-4/5 against Keller’s 6-3/A, but he caught a seven and a deuce to pick up a live draw to a seven-low by fifth street, while Keller made a nine-six low. Keller bricked with a jack and a three on the final two cards, and Fuller had a lot of cards to survive when he got a nine on sixth street. The ten on the end would be of no help, though, and Keller’s second elimination of the final table had Fuller going home in seventh.

It wouldn’t be a long honeymoon period for Keller, though, losing the majority of his chips to Wheatley when he made an unlikely nine-seven low with a board showing 9-2-9-2. Keller got the rest of his chips in on fourth street with a massive draw with A-2-3-5 against Ivan Schertzer’s A-T-4-3. They both drew bricks on fifth and sixth street, but Schertzer’s six on seventh street gave him the lead with a ten-six low. Keller had a world of outs, but the jack he received wouldn’t quite do the job, ending Keller’s tournament in sixth.

Bach didn’t have much to work with when there were eight players left, but he won a big pot against Keller and two big ones against Pauli to go from one end of the spectrum to the other, near the top of the chip counts. Schertzer went the opposite way, falling victim to an almost food chain-like trend of a small stack taking out the shortest stack, only to get beaten by a slightly bigger stack.

Schertzer ran up against Campanello, who started as one of the big stacks and quietly built it bigger while the other players engaged in their all ins. He finally got involved in a key pot with Schertzer and Pauli, with Campanello showing a deuce, Schertzer showing a seven and Pauli displaying a nine. Schertzer paired his seven, while both other players got a king. Campanello bet and only Schertzer called, with Campanello getting an eight and Schertzer receiving a king on fifth street. Campanello bet, Schertzer raised all in and Campanello called, with Campanello holding a distinct edge with K-9-8-6-2 against Schertzer and his K-7-7-3-A. Schertzer paired his ace on sixth and was drawing dead with a seven making Campanello an unbeatable nine-low, eliminating Schertzer in fifth.

They’d be four-handed for three full hours, and while Campanello steadily built his stack to over 1 million, Bach, Wheatley and Pauli each spent time perilously short-stacked and near the top of the counts. Eventually both Wheatley and Pauli would end up in the danger zone, and once again the two shortest stacks collided to play a crucial pot at this final table.

With three jacks and a ten showing, Campanello brought in, Pauli completed with a jack, Wheatley raised with the T and Campanello folded. Pauli called all in for 47,000 total and the hands were turned up, Wheatley ahead with 5 2 in the hole while Pauli had an eight and a six. Wheatley eventually made a 7-6-5-4-2 low on sixth street, while Pauli got two kings and a seven, bricking out completely, and the German was knocked out of the Razz event in fourth place.

As long as the four-handed session went, three-handed play was very brief. Despite his newly-found chips, Wheatley was still the shortest stack by a fair margin and was able to get all in on third street against Campanello – albeit with five bets back and forth. Wheatley’s 7-4-2 was ahead of Campanello’s 8-7-5, but the lead switched when Campanello got a nine and Wheatley was dealt a jack. Campanello then got a ten while Wheatley paired his deuce, severely limiting his options. Wheatley drew a queen on the end and his tournament quickly came to a close in third.

Bach had several comebacks from almost nothing during the Razz event, including several such runs at the final table alone. Though he did manage to string together several pots in a row, Bach could not quite get himself over the hump heads-up and eventually succumbed to Campanello’s relentlessness.

Here are the final table payouts for Event 33 of the 2013 World Series of Poker, $2,500 Razz.

  1. Bryan Campanello – $178,052
  2. David Bach – $110,098
  3. James Wheatley – $72,346
  4. Sebastian Pauli – $52,844
  5. Ivan Schertzer – $39,128
  6. Brent Keller – $29,369
  7. Rick Fuller – $22,351
  8. Ismael Bojang – $17,235
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