Event 21 $1,000 No Limit Hold’em at the 2014 World Series of Poker saw Day 3 return with 16 players return with dreams of winning a gold bracelet. The final table featured Jeff Gross, 2011 November Niner Bob Bounahra and 2014 National Champion Dominik Nitsche in the shadow of the ESPN Main Stage on the secondary final table.
Ten hours and a swingy heads-up match later, Nitsche defeated Dave D’Alesandro to claim his third bracelet in two years. Nitsche’s first bracelet also came in a $1,000 NLHE event that fielded 4,620 entrants. His second bracelet win came in a stacked field at the 2014 National Championship and he bested 2,042 other players to claim his third.
Nitsche is the youngest player to win three bracelets and is ahead of Phil Ivey’s pace at his age. “I’ve been playing poker for seven years now and if I wasn’t at this point in my career I don’t think I’d be playing anymore. I honestly feel like I’m one of the best No Limit tournament players right now,” Nitsche said. “I think I’m just really laid back and play my game regardless of what happens.”
“The weekend events are full of inexperienced players and they’re (the tournaments) are easy to navigate in the early levels. But then you get great players with a lot of chips like Jeff Gross and towards the end you have to get lucky with your table draw,” Nitsche said. “The biggest thing in this tournament that helped me win was my table draw. I had a lot of inexperienced players that always folded to my min-raises. I tripled my stack early in Day 2 and it never broke.”
A flurry of bustouts reduced to the field to the official final table with Thayer Rasmussen and Bounahra battling for the chip lead with 1.8 million and 1.02 million respectively. Nitsche, Zac Gruneberg and D’Alesandro formed the chase pack. Erick Milas, Gross, Billy Horan and David Burt rounded out the final table.
On just the third hand of the official final table Burt moved his short stack all in and Gross called holding pocket aces. Burt tabled Q J and had to connect with the board to stay alive. The dealer spread J 7 2 2 K and Burt was eliminated in ninth place.
Just four hands later Horan moved in preflop holding A A and D’Alesandro called and drew a gasp from the crowd when he tabled A A. The flop brought J 7 2 and the turn was 4. Horan had to fade a spade on the river to stay alive and the dealer burned a card and the 5 hit the river. The crowd was stunned, Horan was blank-faced and he was eliminated in one of the worst coolers possible.
About 20 minutes later D’Alesandro opened, Milas moved all in from the big blind and D’Alesandro called with pocket tens. Milas tabled A Q for a classic race situation to stay in the tournament. The board ran K J 6 J A and another four-flush served up an elimination.
The hectic pace slowed for about 90 minutes before Bounahra opened, Nitsche called and Gross moved all in. Bounahra folded, Nitsche called with pocket queens and Gross tabled A K. Gross’ sizable crowd on the rail, including Olympian Michael Phelps, stood to watch the action. The board fell 9 8 4 2 4, Gross failed to connect and was eliminated in sixth place.
Two levels would pass before Rasmussen moved all in from late position and Nitsche called holding pocket tens. Rasmussen was in a flip situation holding A K and the flop gave him two hearts when it fell J 6 2. The turn came 6 and Rasmussen needed a heart but bricked when the river came 6. Nitsche’s full house eliminated Rasmussen in fifth place.
The table played four-handed for about 40 hands, then went on a their dinner break and the second after returning from break Nitsche opened. Gruneberg moved all in, Nitsche called with K Q and Gruneberg tabled A J. The board went Q 9 8 2 K and Nitsche’s two pair eliminated Gruneberg before his dinner ever settled.
Another 50 hand would pass before Nitsche opened, Bounahra moved all in and D’Alesandro moved in over the top. Nitsche asked for a count, called and tabled pocket tens. Bounahra turned up pocket sevens and D’Alessandro turned up queens. Nitsche had both players covered and the board ran K 6 5 9 4. Bounahra was eliminated and D’Alessandro stacked the chip lead after the hand.
D’Alessandro held 4.36 million to Nitsche’s 1.77 million. D’Alessandro began to pull away from Nitsche but Nitsche scored a big double up holding T 9 to D’Alessandro’s A Q. Nitsche stacked up 2.1 million after the hand to D’Alessandro’s 4 million.
A couple of hands later D’Alesandro flopped a full house and got full value. Nitsche called a big 800,000 bet on the river, lost a good portion of his chips and was down under a million. But momentum was on Nitsche’s side and he scored two major double ups that brought the two even in chips.
Nitsche doubled up a fourth time after catching a four-flush on the river to take the lead. The final hand came when D’Alesandro moved all in holding Q 7 and Nitsche called with K 6. The flop hit both players when it fell K Q 6 but Nitsche held a decisive advantage with two pair. The turn and river came A A, Nitsche shook hands with D’Alesandro and got a round of congratulations from his rail for this third bracelet.
Final Table Payouts
- Dominik Nitsche – $335,659
- Dave D’Alesandro – $208,931
- Bob Bounahra – $145,229
- Zac Gruneberg – $104,594
- Thayer Rasmussen – $76,443
- Jeff Gross – $56,549
- Eric Milas – $42,832
- Billy Horan- $32,168
- David Burt – $24,702
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