While most people in Las Vegas spent the day barbecuing and watching fireworks, Matthew Ashton spent the day winning over $1.7 million and the most prestigious WSOP bracelet of the summer.
The 25 year-old British professional poker player won the $50,000 Poker Players Championship Thursday night at the 2013 WSOP to secure his first career bracelet. The bracelet puts the icing on the cake of what was already a very successful summer for the young Brit.
This was his fourth final table of the summer, all which came in non-hold’em events. The Poker Players Championship is an eight game mix which consists of No Limit Hold’em, Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, Seven card Stud, Seven card Stud Hi-Lo, Razz, and Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw.
“I did want it a little bit more, but I had just busted eight tournaments in a row,” said Ashton. “That’s just the way tournaments are. So you just approach each one the same and try and play your best each situation that comes.”
At 25, Ashton becomes the youngest player to ever win this event. While most players his age are focused on No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha, Ashton found himself drawn to other games.
“I played a lot online and found myself talking to friends like Christopher George and Eric Rodawig and leearning stud games with them,” said Ashton. “I got bored of hold’em for a while and when I wanted to play something else or was on tilt, I would just play low stakes HORSE games and just learned the games. The mixed games became more popular and I just kept playing them and playing them.”
Even now that he won one of the toughest tournaments of the summer, Ashton still seemed down to earth and very humble with the experience.
“Of course (I’m the best in the world),” said Ashton with a laugh. “It’s one tournament and anyone can win one tournament. This is harder to win because it’s a tougher field than the others, but it’s just one tournament and it doesn’t say as much.”
Along with the hardware and the money, Ashton makes major strides in the 2013 WSOP Player of the Year race and is a serious contender for the title.
“That’s really good because I had my eye on that early on,” said Ashton. “But since Negreanu had such a big lead early on from Asia Pacific I was not that interested in playing every event every day like some of the other people. I’m a lot more likely to play in Europe now if I’m going to have a lead to defend.”
2010 Main Event Champion Jonathan Duhamel made a brief appearance at this final table. He was eliminated in eighth place on the fourth hand dealt.
In Pot Limit Omaha, with blinds of 15,000/30,000, Duhamel raised to 65,000 under-the-gun and was called George Danzer in the cutoff and Ashton from the big blind. The flop was JT6 and everybody checked to Danzer, who bet 130,000. Duhamel check-raised to 600,000 and Danzer moved in the rest of Duhamel’s chips. Duhamel called it off and the hands were tabled. Danzer showed J652 and was up against Duhamel’s KKQ2. Duhamel had an overpair with a straight draw, but Danzer had flopped two pair. The turn was the Q and the river was the 4 to eliminate the French Canadian pro in eighth.
Mike Wattel was the next player to be sent to the rail. In No Limit Hold’em, Don Nguyen raised to 80,000 and Wattel moved all in for his last 550,000 in chips. Nguyen called and was in great shape. Wattel showed AJ, but would need to hit a jack against Nguyen’s AQ. The flop was QT6 which meant that Wattel’s jack was no longer an out, but a king would give him a straight. The turn was the 2 and the river was the 9 to send the well-respected pro off to the cashier.
Minh Ly wasn’t too far behind him as eight hands later, Ly was eliminated in Seven card Stud, when Danzer was the bring-in and Ly completed. David Benyamine called and Danzer defended his bring-in. Ly bet fourth street and found the same two callers. When he bet fifth street, Benyamine raised, Danzer three-bet, Ly called off his stack, Benyamine four-bet and Danzer called. Danzer called a bet on sixth and seventh with their boards looking like this:
Benyamine showed T86, giving him an ace-high flush, Danzer flashed a ten-high flush as he mucked his hand, and Ly showed AK9, giving him two pair. Ly was eliminated in sixth place for $309,830. This was the second final table Ly has made in this event, after finishing third in this event in 2011.
Danzer was eliminated just before the end of the level in Pot Limit Omaha. Benyamine raised to 80,000 from the cutoff and was called by Nguyen in the small blind and Danzer in the big blind. The flop came 883 and Nguyen led out for 150,000. Danzer raised to 425,000 and Benyamine folded. Nguyen and Danzer got into a clicking it back war as it went to 800,000 to 1.2 million to 1.6 million and Danzer six-bet all in for 2.25 million and was called by Nguyen.
Both players tabled an eight as Danzer showed AK98 and Nguyen showed KJT8. Danzer had the lead with his ace kicker but after a brick turn, the river was the J, which gave Nguyen a full house and the pot.
The next 100 minute level went on without any eliminations and the players took a one hour dinner break with Nguyen the chip leader with 7.2 million, Ashton in second with 5.6 million, John Hennigan in third with 4.17 million and Benyamine as the short stack with 2.8 million.
After the final four players returned from their break, Benyamine started to slide down the chip counts. He lost a big pot to Nguyen when he called a big river raise in Pot Limit Omaha on a board reading 9934T. Nguyen showed JTT8 for a rivered full house and Benyamine was down to just 1.38 million.
Nguyen finished off Benyamine in a Seven card Stud hand when they got the last of Benyamine’s stack in on sixth street with Nguyen already having made full house and Benyamine was drawing dead.
Nguyen entered three-handed play with the a slight lead over Hennigan and Ashton, but nothing went right for him and he found himself in big trouble very quickly. Most of the damage for Nguyen came in Pot Limit Omaha where Nguyen ran up against two flushes from Ashton. Those pots moved Ashton over the 10 million mark while Nguyen had fallen to under 3 million. Nguyen fought back though and when the three players took a 20 minute break, Ashton held 12 million, Nguyen 5.6 million, and Hennigan just 2.1 million.
Hennigan didn’t last much longer after the break was over though as he lost the last of his chips in Pot Limit Omaha to Ashton. Ashton raised to 300,000 on the button and Hennigan three-bet to 900,000. Ashton called and Hennigan moved all in dark as the flop came J86. Ashton called and showed A863, giving him bottom two pair. Hennigan threw his hands up in the air as he showed QQ74, for just an overpair. The turn was the T and the river was the A, which sent the man known as “Johnny World” home in third place.
That left Ashton and Nguyen heads-up with Ashton holding a massive chip lead with 17 million of the just over 19 million in play in his stack. The heads-up match only lasted a few hands as Ashton made quick work of Nguyen in just a few limit hold’em hands.
On the second hand of heads-up, Ashton raised the button and Nguyen called from the big blind. The flop was T73 and Nguyen check-raised the flop. Ashton called and they saw the 9 come on the turn. The river was the Q and Nguyen bet and Ashton raised. Nguyen called off the last of his chips. Ashton showed KT and had Nguyen out-kicked with with his top pair to give him the most prestigious bracelet of the summer.
Here are a look at the final table results:
- Matthew Ashton – $1,774,089
- Don Nguyen – $1,096,254
- John Hennigan – $686,568
- David Benyamine – $497,122
- George Danzer – $388,523
- Minh Ly – $309,830
- Mike Wattel – $251,602
- Jonathan Duhamel – $207,630
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