With over $1.1 million in tournament earnings and a WPT title to his name already, Jared Jaffee has done more in poker than most will ever be able to. He was able to fill a vacant spot in his trophy case on Wednesday night though, winning his first career bracelet at the 2014 World Series of Poker.
Jaffee, a 33-year-old professional poker player from Brooklyn, topped a field of 1,475 to add another $405,428 to his resume in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Mixed Max.
“It feels great,” said Jaffee. “I feel like there are a bunch of spots in the past where I was like right there and I could have gotten it and I didn’t. Today, I just kind of felt like I was in the zone all day yesterday and today and it just kind of felt like I was going to win. Usually I feel very pessimistic, but today it just kind of felt like it was my time.”
The mixed max format is a relatively new format over the last few years at the WSOP. Day 1 is played in a full ring setting and Day 2 is played as a No Limit Hold’em Six Max tournament. The third day is played as a Four Max until reaching the final four players, at which point they are seeded based on chip count and two separate heads-up matches are played to see who will advance to the final match.
“I like short-handed. I prefer short-handed,” said Jaffee. “I feel like normally I choose the right spots when I get there, more than when I force the issue a bit in full-ring, but yea, the shorter the better. I like heads-up, I like six-handed. Once I got through the first day with some chips, I thought I stood a pretty good chance.”
Jaffee got the best of another well known pro in the finals. He squared off against Mike Watson, who was also searching for his first bracelet.
“I know Mike is really good, but I have no history with him,” said Jaffee. “I was just kind of feeling it out as I went along. It wasn’t going to be comfortable and I was going to have to figure it out as I went along.”
When cards got in the air on what was scheduled to be the penultimate day of the tournament, there were 10 players remaining playing No Limit Hold’em Four Max. After the first two eliminations, there were two tables left. Well-known pros Brandon Cantu and Jeff Gross were eliminated in sixth and seventh place, respectively to move to the final table of five.
Xiao Peng was eliminated on the heads-up bubble in fifth place and that left the remaining four players to square off in two separate heads-up matches. Jaffee was far and away the chip leader and squared off against short stacked Joseph Alban, while Watson faced off against Mark Herm, known to many in the online world as “dipthrong.”
It only took two hands for Jaffee to dispose of Alban, but the other match took a bit longer to crown a victor. After just over two hours of heads-up play, Watson emerged victorious over Herm when his K2 triumphed over Herm’s J8. The board ran out T7444 to send Watson to the finals and a match against Jaffee.
Jaffee started the match with just shy of a two-to-one chip lead and in the early goings of the match, it certainly looked like he was never going to give up that lead. Jaffee extended his lead and in the blink of an eye, had better than a five-to-one chip lead and looked like he was going to make quick work of the Canadian pro.
Watson scored a double up on the 56th hand of the match when he got all in on a flop of AT7 with K2 against Jaffee’s J7. Jaffee found himself drawing dead on the turn and Watson earned a double up.
Watson was still short of where he started the match, but was treading water until he got his second double up. The two got all the chips in the middle preflop and Watson held the advantage. Watson tabled A6 and it looked like a chop was the most likely outcome against Jaffee’s A4. The flop was 853, which killed most chop possibilities and gave Jaffee a straight draw. The turn was the 8 to give Jaffee some extra chop outs and the river was the 7 to double up Watson again.
Jaffee still held the lead with just over 4.1 million to Watson’s 2.5 million, but Watson was able to take over the chip lead after he caught Jaffee bluffing.
Watson check-called three streets from Jaffee as the board ran out A92Q4. Jaffee bet 165,000 on the flop, 320,000 on the turn and 610,000 on the river with Watson staying with him every step of the way. Watson tabled Q9, giving him two pair, and took the pot against Jaffee’s 62.
That pot gave Watson a slight chip lead as they took a 10-minute break. The break must have been what Jaffee needed to regain his early form as he immediately started raking in the pots again.
“That break came at a really good time,” said Jaffe. “I was not in a good spot right after that hand. I kind of had a feeling that he hit two pair on the turn and I told myself that if he called, I would have to shut it down on the river and just as I told myself I couldn’t bet the river, I found myself sticking in 600,000. I do that sometimes. I was wrong. In four hours, I wasn’t wrong too many times. I was wrong maybe two or three times. They were in big spots, but I grinded him down three separate times and I think I picked some really good spots otherwise to get in that position.”
After the first five hands back from break, Jaffee raced back out to a better than two-to-one chip lead.
On the final hand of the match, Watson limped on the button and Jaffee raised to 180,000 out of the big blind. Watson shoved for 1.6 million and Jaffee called after a few moments of thought.
Watson was in great shape to double up with his JJ against Jaffee’s A6. The flop was T85, which kept Watson in the lead. The turn card brought a gasp from the entire crowd, most of whom were supporting Jaffee as the dealer peeled off the 7, giving Jaffee and open-ended straight draw and the nut flush draw to go with his live overcard. The river was the 4, which filled Jaffee’s straight and sealed the deal for his first bracelet.
Here are a look at the results of the final heads-up match:
- Jared Jaffee – $405,428
- Mike Watson – $246,068
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