Michael Malm Wins $2,500 8-Game Bracelet, $225,104

Michael Malm played the $2,500 8-Game Mixed Event on a whim, and now he's a WSOP bracelet winner. (Jay Newnum photo)

Michael Malm played the $2,500 8-Game Mixed Event on a whim, and now he’s a WSOP bracelet winner. (Jay Newnum photo)

If you believe in the butterfly effect, Michael Malm’s story of winning a bracelet at the 2013 WSOP is the quintessential example of how it can go right.

After busting out of the Millionaire Maker twice, Malm entered the $235 Deep Stack event that was delayed until 8:30 pm because of the enormous turnout in the Millionaire Maker. Malm played that tournament until 11 am and chopped it. He then slept five hours and attempted to enter the 6 pm $185 Deep Stack tournament.

“I couldn’t get into the $185 Deep Stack, I was too late to register,” said Malm. “The only tournament left is the $2,500 Mixed Game and I said, ‘Why don’t I give it a shot? I have all this freeroll money from the Deep Stack tournament, let’s have some fun.”

After three grueling days of playing with some of the top players in the world, Malm defeated Steven Wolansky heads-up to win the $2,500 8-Game Mixed Event, $225,104, and his first WSOP bracelet. Not bad for a guy who didn’t even know all of the games in the mix.

“I had no clue what I was doing,” said Malm, “I made quite a few mistakes. I know the basics of the games, I just didn’t know the proper strategy. I just picked it up as I went along throughout the tournament. I was a quick learner.”

Malm had to fight back from a tremendous deficit against Wolansky, who had Malm at a disadvantage of over 10-to-1 at one point, only for Malm to storm back during a round of Pot Limit Omaha. The match turned after Malm had the clock called on him, facing a bet on the river of an A 6 5 J 4 board. The countdown reached six and Malm slid a stack of chips in, with Wolansky tabling K 7 for king-high. Malm’s 8 6 was good to take the pot, and gave Malm a tremendous amount of momentum.

At 3:40 am, with the looming possibility of a hard stop and a return for a fourth day, a big Pot Limit Omaha hand developed out of thin air. They raised the pot back and forth and suddenly Wolansky’s chips were in the middle with K Q T 9. Malm was ahead with A T T 9, but the Q 6 4 flop put Wolansky out in front. The K gave Wolansky two-pair and left Malm with a jack for a straight or a diamond for a flush, with one card separating Wolansky from a fresh start on even footing on Wednesday afternoon. The 2 gave Malm the pot and the bracelet in dramatic fashion.

The day started more than 14 hours earlier with 19 players left, and it was slow going in the early stages. Back-to-back eliminations of Randy Ohel in 11th place and Chris Tryba in 10th reduced the field to a single table of nine. They drew for new seats and a new game, with No Limit Hold’em randomly selected to start. The action commenced immediately, as Wolansky, then the chipleader, raised to 18,000, Eric Crain three-bet to 35,000 and Travis Pearson four-bet all in for 135,000. Wolansky folded but Crain called with A K, putting Pearson at risk with T T. The Q T 5 flop reduced Crain’s outs significant but the J on the turn gave Crain a Broadway straight. Pearson had redraw outs to a full house or a flush, but the 3 on the river eliminated him in ninth place.

The final eight players were now at the official final table, but they wouldn’t stay at that number for long. Greg Mueller opened to 13,500 and Marco Johnson three-bet all in for 88,000, which Mueller called. Johnson was in good shape to double up with A K against A Q, but the Q T 7 flipped the script, putting Mueller well ahead. The 4 turn and 7 river changed nothing, sending Johnson to the rail in eighth place.

Mueller continued to run his chips up as they cycled through the various games in the mix, eventually reaching the Omaha Hi-Lo round. He raised under the gun and Mike Wattel called in the big blind, bringing a flop of T 7 3. Wattel check-raised all in for his last few bets and Mueller called, tabling A J 4 2. Wattel was ahead with J 5 3 2 for a pair of threes and stayed ahead on the K turn, but the A gave Mueller a wheel to scoop the whole pot, eliminating Wattel in seventh.

Level 22’s fourth and final casualty was Dario Alioto, who got into a big pot with Crain during the same round of Omaha Hi-Lo. Crain raised in early position and only Alioto called in the small blind, bringing a J 5 2 flop. They got five bets in on the flop, and after the A turn Alioto put his last few chips in. His A K 9 3 had been well ahead on the flop, but Crain’s 8 8 4 3 found gin on the turn as he made a wheel. With no club or four on the river, it was a scoop for Crain. With Alioto’s elimination in sixth place, an unbelievable hour of poker saw the field reduced from nine to five.

Crain continued to keep the pressure on and crippled Michael Hurey’s stack in a Limit Hold’em pot, making a full house with 4 6 and betting it down to the river. Steven Wolansky got the rest on the very next hand, picking up A A against Hurey’s A 7. Hurey was up and shaking hands before the flop even came out, and the 8 5 2 2 J runout didn’t provide the needed miracle as Hurey went out in fifth place.

They played for an hour-and-a-half and the chips moved around at a furious pace. Malm was the shortest stack when five-handed play began and Crain was the second-biggest stack, but their fortunes put them in different directions. As Malm made his push towards the chiplead, Crain could simply not win a pot.

He doubled up as a short stack twice against Mueller, but eventually his desperately short stack became too much to overcome. In the Limit Hold’em round Crain raised under the gun, Wolansky three-bet from the big blind, Crain four-bet from the button and Wolansky capped it, putting Crain all-in. Crain was in bad shape with A 4 against Wolansky and it got worse as the K 7 6 flop put him in serious peril, though he had some outs after the 3 turn. The 4 river was not enough, and Crain made his exit in fourth.

The chips moved around like crazy three-handed, with all three players seeing their stack ebbing and flowing with each game change. Mueller would be the first to dip into the danger zone, only this time he wouldn’t be able to claw his way back. Once again Limit Hold’em was the game, with Wolansky raising from the small blind and Mueller calling in the big blind, bringing a flop of 8 6 3. Wolansky bet, Mueller raised and Wolansky called, with the 9 falling on the turn. Wolansky check-raised Mueller all in for his last bet and tabled A 9, which got there against Mueller’s T 8. The river was the Q and, after finishing second in this event at the 2012 WSOP, Mueller followed it up with a third place finish in 2013.

Malm and Wolansky had an absolute battle heads-up, and in the end the Malm, the Canadian amateur, would persevere.

Here are the final table payouts for Event 8 of the 2013 World Series of Poker, the $2,500 8-Game Mixed Event.

  1. Michael Malm – $225,104
  2. Steven Wolansky – $139,034
  3. Greg Mueller – $89,673
  4. Eric Crain – $64,975
  5. Michael Hurey – $47,771
  6. Dario Alioto – $35,634
  7. Mike Wattel – $26,966
  8. Marco Johnson – $20,669
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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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