Wednesday wasn’t even supposed to be the last day of the $5,000 Eight Max No Limit Hold’em event at the 2014 World Series of Poker, but don’t tell that to Brian Yoon. After winning a massive pot in the opening hours of Day 3, Yoon rode that big stack past 22 other players and a commanding victory for his second career WSOP bracelet.
Yoon’s second victory in as many years came against a much different field than the one he beat in the Little One for One Drop in 2013.
“[It was] a $5K and it was mostly professionals, so combine that with being eight-handed, there’s a lot more action and people play a lot more hands,” said Yoon. “It’s very fast paced, and any time I can play more hands, I’ll always like it.”
Yoon could seemingly do no wrong in a brief but action-packed 19 hand heads-up battle with two-time bracelet winner Josh Arieh. He flopped two pair with 6 4 on a Q Q 6 board and ran out a heart flush to put some distance between himself and Arieh. He then flopped a straight with T 9 and bet the turn and river for value to go up more than 2-to-1.
That lead grew to 3-to-1 when Yoon’s A 7 outkicked Arieh’s A 5 on an A K Kh] 5 2 board, and the match only lasted two more hands from there. After Arieh opened for a minraise to 100,000 and Yoon defended the big blind, the flop came down 9 7 6. Yoon checked, Arieh bet 75,000, Yoon raised to 240,000 and Arieh called, with the A falling onthe turn. Yoon bet 350,000, Arieh raised all in and Yoon quickly called it off.
Yoon had flopped gin with 8 2 for a flush and an open-ended straight flush draw, while Arieh was in need of some help with A 2. Despite holding the nut flush draw, Arieh had only five clean outs to win and survive, and the 6 river wasn’t one of them. Arieh settled for $391,575 and second place, narrowly missing out on his third career bracelet for the second time this summer.
They came a long way in a short time – it took less than eight hours of play to reduce the field from 23 Day 3 hopefuls to the heads-up match for the bracelet between Yoon and Arieh. It was a bloody beginning as Olivier Busquet, Eric Froelich, Ravi Raghavan and Jeff Madsen were the first four players to go out. It was particularly tough for Madsen, who entered the day as the chipleader and lost a massive pot to Yoon early on in Wednesday’s action. They got all in on the turn of a 9 5 3 A board, with Madsen holding 4 3 for a straight and a flush draw against Yoon’s set with 5 5, and the river was the K.
“Right when he said the words ‘All in’ I thought, ‘Well, I guess I’m calling’,” said Yoon. “Hopefully I’m good here. I had to fade a lot of outs, but I was just thinking that if I win this, I’m going to have so many chips and I don’t think the people at my table could really stop me.”
Sylvain Loosli, who was part of last year’s November Nine, was the first to go after the two-table redraw in 16th, and he was followed soon after by Sam Stein (14th) and David Peters (12th). Sam Trickett lost a coinflip against Yoon to bust in 11th, and the field was quickly down to a single table of nine. That lasted for exactly one hand as Nick Grippo’s K K got cracked by Josh Bergman’s Q Q as the Q hit on the river.
Bergman did the exact same thing on just the 10th hand of the final table, six-betting all in with Q Q and running into Mustapha Kanit’s K K, only to hit a Q on the flop and the Q on the turn for quads to win a 1.6 million (100 bb) pot. Kanit doubled Tony Cousineau up a few hands later as Cousineau made quad tens to beat his straight, leaving him with almost no chip.
The chips kept flying like crazy as Kanit doubled back twice, and then a third time – all of which came from the stack of Dan Smith. The first 33 hands of eight-handed play saw six all in and calls and really shook up the chip counts, but Yoon maintained a healthy lead heading into the first break of the final table.
- Brian Yoon – 3,035,000
- Josh Bergman – 1,541,000
- Josh Arieh – 1,165,000
- Dan Smith – 735,000
- Mustapha Kanit – 566,000
- Ardit Kurshumi – 540,000
- Tony Cousineau – 369,000
- Timmo Pfutzenreuter – 305,000
Any thought of the pace slowing down was pushed aside in another absurd stretch, one that saw the field reduced from eight players to four over the span of just 23 hands. Despite his early double, Cousineau soon found himself all in with another coinflip on his hands. Yoon opened to 50,000, Cousineau three-bet all in for 293,000 and Yoon called with K Q. Cousineau’s 9 9 stayed ahead on the J T 8 flop, but the A on the turn made Yoon’s straight. The 3 was an afterthought on the river, and with his eighth place finish Cousineau extended a record he’d likely rather not have – 64 WSOP cashes without a bracelet.
Kanit lost nearly half of his stack in a pot against Arieh, and open-shoved his last 12 big blinds from the cutoff with A 7. Timo Pfutzenreuter called all in with 7 7 and got good news when he saw how far ahead of Kanit he actually was, until the A J 8 flop left him with one out and the A on the turn sealed the pot for Kanit. As the dealer put the 2 out on the river it was handshakes all around as Pfutzenreuter made his exit in seventh.
Smith narrowly missed out on a double just before Pfutzenreuter went out in seventh, spiking top pair with A 9 against Kanit’s K J on an A T 4 flop, only for the J and 2 to follow to put a flush out on board. Kanit continued to have Smith’s number at this final table and dealt the death blow too. Kanit minraised to 48,000 from under the gun, Smith three-bet all in from the small blind and Kanit called. It was A T for Smith against 77 for Kanit, and despite picking up extra outs by the turn of a J 9 6 K board, the K on the river marked the end for Smith, who finished sixth.
With the exception of Ardit Kurshumi, who sat on the sidelines for the majority of the fireworks and had just 10 big blinds left, the stacks were deep enough where the action could have slowed down significantly. For a little while longer, at least, that wouldn’t be the case.
After Yoon raised to 65,000 on the button, Kanit called in the small blind and the flop came out A 8 7. Kanit check, Yoon bet 65,000 again and Kanit called, with the 3 falling on the turn. After Kanit checked again, Yoon bet 150,000, Kanit raised to 345,000 and Yoon called. The K fell on the river and Kanit open-shoved for 875,000, about three-quarters the size of the pot. Yoon thought it over for several minutes and eventually called with A Q, and his pair of aces was good to take the pot as Kanit held 5 6 for a busted straight draw. With two final tables and a final table bubble in a Six Max event so far at the 2014 WSOP, Kanit’s had a lot of big runs but still no bracelet to show for it. For the second time this summer, he settled for fifth place.
Yoon had well over half of the chips in play at this point, but things would take a dark turn immediately after Yoon made that big call-off. Kurshumi got a well-timed ace on the turn with A 9 against Yoon’s J J to double, and then Arieh would take his shot at Yoon in an attempt at doubling a much bigger stack. Arieh raised to 65,000, Yoon three-bet to 165,000, Arieh four-bet to 395,000 and Yoon put him all in for over 1.1 million. Arieh quickly called with Q Q and held against Yoon’s eights to make it a two-horse race at the top of the chip counts.
Arieh quickly slipped back and the stacks evened out after a brutal runout against Kurshumi. Bergman opened the action with a minraise to 60,000, Arieh called in the small blind and Kurshumi three-bet to 165,000. Bergman folded, Arieh four-bet all in and Kurshumi called it off with A T. Arieh seemed poised to take the 3.2 million chip pot and a significant lead with A Q after a Q 9 8 flop and Q turn, only for the J to spike the river to make Kurshumi’s straight.
Yoon took back some measure of control going into the dinner break, but it was still anyone’s game as they headed off to eat for an hour.
- Brian Yoon – 3,265,000
- Josh Arieh – 2,335,000
- Josh Bergman – 1,710,000
- Ardit Kurshumi – 950,000
Yoon pulled further ahead as play dragged upon their return, but a coinflip triggered a 27-hand sequence that would ultimately lead to a champion. Arieh raised to 125,000 in the small blind, Kurshumi three-bet all in for 1.2 million and Arieh called with A Q. Kurshumi had a pair with 4 4 and faded the flop as it came down K 9 8, but the A on the turn gave Arieh a big lead. Needing a diamond or a four to survive and double on the river, Kurshumi instead saw the A, which gave Arieh trips and ended his run in fourth.
Arieh opened again five hands later, this time to 100,000, and again he got shoved on by the big blind. Arieh called with A J and he was up against Bergman’s Q T, which stayed behind on the 5 5 5 flop. The 3 turn kept Bergman behind with six outs going into the river and he did not hit as the 4 knocked him out of the tournament in third place.
Yoon and Arie were virtually even when heads-up play began, each holding over 80 big blinds and prepping for a heads-up match that could have carried well into the night. It only lasted 19 hands.
Two flushes, a flopped straight and a big pot where a seven kicker beat a five kicker later, Yoon was lifting a bracelet above his head for the second consecutive year.
2014 World Series of Poker – $5,000 Eight Max Final Table Results
- Brian Yoon – $633,341
- Josh Arieh – $391,575
- Josh Bergman – $246,169
- Ardit Kurshumi – $176,684
- Mustapha Kanit – $128,862
- Dan Smith – $95,515
- Timo Pfutzenreuter – $71,940
- Tony Cousineau – $55,034
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