Jonathan Hilton Wins 2013 WSOP National Championship, First Bracelet

Jonathan Hilton fell just short of a bracelet at the 2012 WSOP, but made up for it Friday by winning the WSOP National Championship. (Photo c/o

Jonathan Hilton fell just short of a bracelet at the 2012 WSOP, but made up for it Friday by winning the WSOP National Championship. (Photo c/o

Just before the start of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event, the final $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event of the series got underway. An astounding 4,620 players would eventually register for the tournament, making it the largest field outside of the Main Event in 2012.

After wading through almost 4,600 players Jonathan Hilton found himself heads-up against Dominik Nitsche for a WSOP bracelet, but he simply could not overcome Nitsche’s massive chiplead and had to settle for second place. Hilton made up for that disappointment Friday, though, defeating Max Steinberg heads-up to win the 2013 WSOP National Championship, $355,599 and the first bracelet of the summer.

Hilton and Steinberg began their heads-up match with similar stacks, but Steinberg won several big pots early to greatly expand his lead, which eventually reached three-to-one. Hilton made a big call for his tournament life with T 8 on a K T 4 flop and he was right, with Steinberg’s J 9 well behind and unable to catch up. Steinberg briefly retook the lead, but Hilton would edge ahead with an uncalled four-bet all in.

Hilton then opened to 85,000, Steinberg three-bet to 240,000 and Hilton called. The K T 8 flop brought a bet of 275,000 from Steinberg and another call from Hilton, bringing the A on the turn. Steinberg went all-in and Hilton snap-called, his K T making two pair on the flop, and Steinberg was in trouble with 9 7. The river would not make Steinberg’s straight and the tournament came to a swift end, denying Steinberg his second career WSOP bracelet.

The chips moved quickly early in the day too, with the swings continuing throughout the final table. Jeremy Ausmus took the chiplead from Brock Parker during the first level of play, but within 90 minutes he’d be out. Robert Panitch took a chunk of Ausmus’ stack by betting a pair of tens through to the river and getting called all the way. Steinberg took more of those chips without a showdown on a four spade board, but Ausmus was still healthy in the middle of the pack.

That changed when he opened to 33,000 and Panitch called on the button, with the pair seeing a 7 5 4 flop. Ausmus bet 35,000, Panitch raised to 77,000, Ausmus three-bet all in and Panitch snap-called. Ausmus was behind with 6 6 to Panitch’s J J but had outs with a straight draw. The A turn and Q river were no help to Ausmus though, with an eighth place finish just the latest in a strong run by the October Niner, who has made the final table in three of the last six WSOP events he’s played.

Nicolas Vaca-Rondon was one of the shorter stacks coming into the final table and he could not find a hand to go with until it was too late. He shoved the last of his short stack in in late position and was called by Joe Tehan and Parker. It was checked all the way down to the river and Parker’s A 7 was the best of the three hands, with Vaca-Rondon’s J T unable to connect leading to his elimination in seventh.

Tehan was even shorter stacked than Vaca-Rondon early in the final table but clawed his way back into the fray in short order. It all fell apart in one swift motion as one of the biggest hands of the final table quickly developed preflop. Hilton raised to 40,000, Panitch called, Tehan three-bet all in for 319,000 and Steinberg called all in for less. Panitch eventually called, putting both of his opponents at risk.

Tehan: K K
Steinberg: T T
Panitch: A Q

The J T 7 flop was a much-needed miracle for Steinberg, whose set was now well out in front. The 8 turn gave Panitch even more outs to a straight and left Tehan hoping to hang on in the side pot. The Q river gave Steinberg a triple up and left a small side pot for Tehan. He’d get the last of his chips in with T 8 against Tim Bowman’s A 4 but nothing would materialize to improve Tehan’s hand, resigning him to a sixth place finish.

Bowman was riding high but it all came crashing down quickly as he called Hilton all the way down on a T 9 8 8 7 board, only to be shown K 2 and a rivered flush. His remaining chips went in with J 8, but Bowman’s hand was dominated by Steinberg’s Q J. Bowman flopped more outs as it came out K 4 3, but the 7 and T wouldn’t help, sending Bowman out in fifth and leaving four to battle it out for the bracelet.

There were two automatic qualifiers in Panitch and Hilton and two WSOP POY qualifiers who bought in, each of whom had at least one WSOP bracelet. Parker had two WSOP victories inside of one week in 2009 but his third bracelet would elude him in the 2013 National Championship. After Parker lost a good chunk of his chips in hands against Hilton and Steinberg, the rest would go into a pot shortly. Steinberg opened to 55,000 and Parker three-bet all in over the top for 350,000. After thinking it over Steinberg called and he was well ahead with A 8 against A 4. The 9 8 3 flop put Steinberg further ahead but it wasn’t over on the turn as the 2 gave Parker three outs to a winning wheel. The T wouldn’t do it and Parker’s tournament was over with a fourth place finish.

They went three-handed into the dinner break with Hilton and Steinberg far out ahead of Panitch. He was unable to right the ship and fell further behind, eventually finding a spot he liked against Hilton. All three players saw an A K 4 flop and Panitch led out for 100,000, triggering a fold from Steinberg and a raise from Hilton, to 250,000. Panitch shoved for 450,000 and Hilton called with A 9. Panitch was on a flush draw with 7 8 but couldn’t connect with the 3 turn or 5 river, sending him to the rail in third place with the first six-figure tournament cash of his career.

The heads-up match between Hilton and Steinberg was brief but very active as the traded the lead several times. Victory would eventually belong to Hilton, though, as he made sure his second chance at a bracelet would go better than his first.

Here are the final table payouts for the 2013 World Series of Poker National Championship.

  1. Jonathan Hilton – $355,599
  2. Max Steinberg – $219,799
  3. Robert Panitch – $167,431
  4. Brock Parker – $114,008
  5. Tim Bowman – $84,544
  6. Joe Tehan – $63,894
  7. Nicolas Vaca-Rondon – $49,187
  8. Jeremy Ausmus – $38,570
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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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