Johnson Wins First Bracelet in 4th WSOP Heads-Up Battle


Marco Johnson won his first career bracelet in his fourth career WSOP heads-up match. (Jay Newnum Photo)

Marco Johnson won his first career bracelet in his fourth career WSOP heads-up match. (Jay Newnum Photo)

Marco Johnson has tasted the agony of defeat many times before, but after his fourth career heads-up match which finished as the clock struck midnight on Saturday morning, Johnson finally attained his first gold bracelet.

Johnson won the $2,500 Limit Hold’em Six-Max event at the 2013 WSOP for $206,796 after topping a field of 343 players. This was the second time that he was heads-up for a bracelet this summer after finishing second to Jarred Graham in the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event. The 28 year-old poker pro finished second place in this same event in 2012, finishing second to Ronnie Bardah.

“Yes, there was a lot (of doubts),” said the California native about his heads-up battle. “But I’ve played a lot of heads-up limit hold’em so luckily for me after having played so many thousands of hands, I’d feel very comfortable with all my decisions and I didn’t think I was going to regret something. If I ran bad, that would be just how the deck fell.”

Johnson, who made his sixth cash of the series with his win, is now within striking distance of Daniel Negreanu for WSOP Player of the Year.

“I’m going to have to go to London now,” said Johnson to his supporters after his win.

After he was corrected that the 2013 WSOP Europe was going to be held in France this year, he still wanted to go and make a run at the Player of the Year title.

“It would be cool to win. Tournaments are fun when you are winning them. So now that I’m doing well, I want to keep playing them,” said Johnson.

Johnson is currently residing in Mexico, where he plays high stakes online cash games. He plays online now, but has extensive experience playing in some of the biggest live games in the world.

“It’s going to sound weird, but winning this bracelet isn’t the biggest accomplishment of my life,” he said. “I’d say playing every day in Bobby’s Room or playing every day in Ivey’s room was, but this was the bigger monkey off my back and feels better.”

Just before the final table, Maria Ho was one of the chip leaders. She had a few hands not go her way though at the unofficial final table which left her on the shorter end of the spectrum. After Danny Le was eliminated in seventh place and the official final table was set, Ho had her hopes of her first bracelet dashed.

Ho got almost all of her chips in with a single preflop raise and was up against Juha Helppi and Johnson. She got her last few chips in on a flop of A73 and was called by both players, who opted to check it down as the turn and river were the 5 and 6. Johnson announced that he had queen high and Helppi showed J7. Ho couldn’t beat Helppi’s pair of sevens as she tossed K9 into the muck. Ho took home $26,858 for her efforts at the final table.

Helppi picked up the chips from Ho, but it was Johnson who started making moves five-handed as he shot up to the chip lead and had almost double of the next closest stack.

While Johnson was climbing, Mike Schiffman was the one getting short and he was eliminated in fifth. Johnson raised and was three-bet by Schiffman. Johnson called and the two took a flop of A65. Schiffman bet and Johnson called. The turn was the T and Johnson put in a raise when Schiffman fired again. Schiffman put in the last of his chips and Johnson called. Johnson had turned a set with his TT, but Schiffman had a few outs with his A6, giving him two pair and a flush draw. The river was a brick and Johnson increased his chip lead while eliminating another player.

Four-handed play saw Danny Warchol start to fade. He lost a few pots in a row to Jeff Thompson to get down to his last few bets. He found a double up when his pocket eights were able to out-race Johnson’s AK, but he was still by far the shortest stack at the table.

Johnson finished him off after Warchol raised and was called by Helppi, Thompson, and the chip leader Johnson. The flop was 974 and it checked to Warchol, who put in the last of his chips with one bet and was called by all three players. The turn was the 7 and Johnson led out and was raised by Thompson. Johnson called and Helppi pitched his cards into the muck. The river was the 3 and Johnson led out and Thompson called. Johnson showed K7 which gave him the side pot against Thompson’s 76. Warchol showed A8, which gave Johnson the main pot as well.

Johnson continued to extend his chip lead as he won the last few pots before the remaining three players went on dinner break. It took quite some time before the next elimination, but in the time between them, Johnson continued run over the table. At his chip peak during three-handed play, Johnson had 1.9 million of the 2.5 million chips in play, but lost a portion of them to Thompson after Thompson check-called the flop and check-raised the turn with pocket sixes on a board of J535 and was called by Johnson. Thompson bet the 9 river and Johnson thought for a long time before calling and mucking to the sixes.

Helppi was knocked out when he got the last of his chips in preflop against both Johnson and Thompson for multiple bets preflop. The flop was Ks5d2s and Thompson led out. Johnson thought for a while before folding and seeing the other hands turned up. Thompson showed pocket jacks and was in great shape against Helppi’s pocket fours. The dealer couldn’t find one of the two remaining fours in the deck for Helppi and he was eliminated in third place.

As the heads-u p battle began, Johnson held a slight chip lead with 1.7 million in chips to just over 900,000. Johnson continued to pound away at Thompson and eventually put him away.

Thompson raised on the button and was three-bet by Johnson from the big blind. Thompson called and they saw a flop of 853. Johnson bet and Thompson called. The turn was the 7 and Johnson bet again. Thompson raised and the two got the last ¬†of Thompson’s chips in the middle and the cards were exposed. Johnson was in the lead with A5 and was just one card away from his first bracelet when he saw Thompson table A6. The river was the 7 which gave the bracelet to Johnson.

Here are a look at the final table results:

  1. Marco Johnson – $206,796
  2. Jeff Thompson – $127,801
  3. Juha Helppi – $82,956
  4. Danny Warchol – $55,457
  5. Mike Schiffman – $38,095
  6. Maria Ho – $26,858
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