At the final table of the $1,111 No Limit Hold’em Little One for One Drop, it seemed as if Brian Yoon could not miss.
The 23-year-old came from behind a couple times in all-in pots and held when he was ahead, ultimately outlasting a field of 4,756 players at the 2013 WSOP and taking home his first gold bracelet.
The run of cards started on Day 2 of what would turn into a four-day event, he said.
“I just ran really hot, every day, just kept winning every single flip,” Yoon said. “I just got all the way to the final table and continued to run hot when I got here. So that’s all it takes.”
Yoon, who started playing poker seriously while studying economics at UCLA, plans to carry his momentum to the Main Event, for which he’ll register Monday.
After he finished school, Yoon temporarily relocated to Vancouver to play online but has since returned to Los Angeles. He played about 20 No Limit Hold’em events before the Little One, only cashing in one other tournament during the Series.
“I haven’t really had a breakthrough win or anything like that live,” he said. “So it’s great to get that on my resume and I think a lot of people can take me a lot more seriously now.”
Even some of the all-in pots Yoon lost during his run in the Little One were “for a small amount of chips. … I just won all the big hands that mattered.”
Adriano Santa Ana was crippled early at the start of the final table, losing significant pots with A A and then 4 4 which left him with a little more than a big blind at 40,000/80,000. Joseph Morneau raised to 160,000, Roland Israelashvili shoved from the button for 1.1 million and Santa Ana called in the small blind. Israelashvili showed A A and Santa Ana showed 4 2 which would hit two pair as the board ran out A Q 4 8 2 but it was not enough to beat Israelashvili’s set. Santa Ana was sent home in ninth place. Action was stopped for the day shortly thereafter.
When play resumed Sunday afternoon, Alexander Case found himself on the short stack after doubling up Cuong Van Nguyen. On the next hand, with the blinds at 50,000/100,000, Joseph Morneau raised to 200,000 from early position and Case moved all in for less. Israelashvili called and they saw a three-way flop of A A 8 and Morneau lead out and Israelashvili folded. Morneau turned over T 8 and case showed T 9 which would not improve on the turn 3 or 5 river. That sent Case out in eighth place.
One hand later, Kevin O’Donnell moved in from the hijack for 625,000 and Nghi “Henry” Tran called from the small blind. Tran rolled over A 3 while O’Donnell tabled K Q which could not catch up as the board ran out A 9 9 A 5 and O’Donnell was out in seventh.
The action didn’t slow down after that. Morneau raised to 200,000 from the button and Israelashivili and Brian Yoon called in the blinds. They saw a flop of T T 9 and both blinds checked to Morneau, who bet 250,000. Israelashvili folded and Yoon raised to 650,000. Morneau called and when the 4 hit on the turn, Yoon shoved all in for about 1.7 million. Morneau went into the tank and ultimately found a call. Yoon turned over A 8 for a flush draw and Morneau’s 9 8 was ahead for the moment. But the river 3 delivered the knockout blow for Morneau and he was sent to the rail in sixth place.
Nghi “Henry” Tran started the final table with the chip lead, and he was not sitting on his stack, losing the lead and gaining it back by splashing around. He lost a majority of his chips, however, in a monster pot with Yoon after Yoon raised under the gun. Tran called on the button and Israelashvili called from the big blind. They saw a flop of 8 7 3 and Yoon bet out, only to have Tran raise and Israelashvili fold. Yoon thought for a bit and moved all in, with Tran calling immediately. Yoon turned over the T 9 for a straight draw and Tran showed A A. But the 6 on the turn had Tran drawing dead and his stack crippled. A few hands later, Yoon raised on the button and Tran shoved his remaining stack with 7 7 against the 9 7 of Yoon. The flop of J 4 4 looked good for Tran, but Yoon spiked the 9 on the turn and Tran could not find the remaining seven on the river. He was sent out in fifth place.
With more than double the next stack, Yoon raised the button, Justin Zaki three-bet to 850, leaving himself with not much behind. Yoon shoves on the button and Zaki called, turning over 9 9 after seeing the A J of Yoon. The flop of J 7 4 gave Yoon the lead and Zaki couldn’t find any help on the turn 6 or river T and he was eliminated in fourth place.
On the very next hand, Israelashvili moved all in with K Q and Yoon called quickly with A Q. Israelashvili did not improve on the 8 6 2 7 6 board, and he was sent to the cage in third place.
If four-handed play was any indication, the heads up action would not last long. Before Nguyen and Yoon even started, Nguyen indicated that he would not be afraid to call off his stack, and he moved in a few times without being called. On the final hand, Yoon moved in with K Q and Nguyen called with T 8, two live cards. Nguyen got some help on the A T 6 flop, and appeared headed for a double up on the 9 turn. But Yoon’s run of cards was not over. He found the K for the victory.
Final Table Results
- Brian Yoon — $663,727
- Cuong Van Nguyen — $408,264
- Roland Israelashvili — $295,433
- Justin Zaki — $218,771
- Nghi “Henry” Tran — $163,340
- Joseph Morneau — $122,933
- Kevin O’Donnell — $93,269
- Alex Case — $71,311
- Adriano Santa Ana — $54,960
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