Retired Marine Sergeant Ted Gillis Wins $514,027, WSOP Bracelet

Ted Gillis defeated John Hennigan heads-up to win the bracelet and over $500,000. (Drew Amato photo)

Ted Gillis defeated John Hennigan heads-up to win the bracelet and over $500,000. (Drew Amato photo)

Lots of dreams will be made at the 2014 World Series of Poker, and Monday it was Ted Gillis’ turn.

Gillis fought his way through a tough final table for a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event and defeated John Hennigan heads-up to win $514,027 and the WSOP gold bracelet. With just over $10,000 in lifetime cashes before this victory, Gillis fulfilled every poker player’s fantasy, coming back from a short stack several times before beating a world class player to seal the deal.

He had a couple of bracelet events worth of experience coming in, but he’s come a long way from the bar leagues where he honed his game back in Texas.

“I played a little when I was in the Marines,” said Gillis of where he picked up poker, “But it was really my brother who got me into it, he was into the WSOP before I knew what it was.”

The retired Marine Sergeant was fully appreciative of the moment he was experiencing in the immediate aftermath of his win.

“Yeah, it’s a big deal,” said Gillis of winning a bracelet. “Maybe, what, .5 percent of poker players in the world can say they have a bracelet?”

After starting heads-up play with a significant lead over Hennigan, Gillis took complete control on the 130th hand of the final table. Hennigan opened for a minraise to 160,000, Gillis three-bet to 350,000 and Hennigan called. The flop was A J 4, both players checked and the turn was the K. Gillis bet 750,000, Hennigan called and the river was the J. Gillis bet 1.5 million, Hennigan called and Gilis showed 4 4 for a full house to take a 6-to-1 chiplead.

Hennigan open-shoved 10 hands later with Q 9 and Gillis called with A 6. The A T T flop gave Gillis a big lead, but the 7 on the turn gave Hennigan outs to a heart flush. The K on the river finished Hennigan off, and Gillis laid his claim to the bracelet.

The final day of this tournament was the epitome of what No Limit Texas Hold’em is all about – long periods of inactivity with the occasional moment of breathtaking action. A double elimination started Day 3 off with a bang, and after several levels of 10-handed play another double elimination kicked off another frenzied period of action once the official final table was set.

Hennigan started his move towards the top and crossed the 1 million chip mark for the first time when he picked up K K and knocked out Ron Mcmillen (who had 8 8) in 12th and Greg Merkow (with Q Q) in 11th simultaneously. Mustapha Kanit seemed absolutely unstoppable during 10-handed play, peaking at over 2.8 million to take a strong lead.

It wouldn’t last all that long for Kanit, though. He lost a million chip pot to Dejan Divkovic with ace-high, and then gave Edison Shields the second of back-to-back doubles to slip to just over 1 million. His stack yo-yo’d up and down throughout the day – soon after, Kanit would double up Hennigan with A K against 8 8, only to double through Divkovic on the very next hand against by rivering a flush draw against flopped trip queens – and Kanit seemed to get involved in a lot more of the key pots as the final table went along.

The official final nine was finally set almost three hours into 10-handed play. Darin Stout was the unlucky bubbler, as his A K got run down by Gillis’ A T after it ran out K Q 8 4 J. As the action was paused briefly to reset the positions of the last nine players, the chip counts looked like this:

  1. Mustapha Kanit – 2,500,000
  2. John Hennigan – 1,600,000
  3. Hiren Patel – 1,150,000
  4. Dejan Divkovic – 990,000
  5. Ted Gillis – 780,000
  6. Edison Shields – 765,000
  7. Jacobo Fernandez – 705,000
  8. Jaime Kaplan – 610,000
  9. Dylan Thomassie – 320,000

On just the seventh hand of the final table, things took a turn for the crazy. Shields opened to 60,000, Dylan Thomassie shoved for about 350,000, Divkovic shoved over the top and Shields called all in, setting up a massive three-way showdown.

Divkovic: K K
Shields: A A
Thomassie: T 9

Shields had a chance to more than double up with well over 1.5 million in the pot and pocket aces, but the K Q 6 flop quickly gave Divkovic a big lead in the pot. Thomassie, the shortest of the three stacks, flopped a gutshot straight flush draw and had a puncher’s chance at a triple up until the K hit the turn. It left Thomassie with only the J to survive, while Shields was drawing dead, and the 2 spelled the end for both players. With more chips to start the hand, Shields got eighth and Thomassie was eliminated in ninth.

Divkovic continued to be an active player and built a stack of over 2.3 million in his own right. Hiren Patel’s fall came swiftly as he open-shoved from the hijack with 6 6 and Divkovic called in the cutoff with A Q. The 9 5 2 flop gave Divkovic a flush draw, the J turn was a blank but the J on the river made that heart flush. Patel was sent out in seventh place, and the race for the chiplead got a little bit tighter.

Jacobo Fernandez got into the mix too, taking on Jaime Kaplan in a battle of short stacks. Kaplan open-shoved from the cutoff and Fernandez called, setting up a race between 3 3 and A J. Kaplan stayed ahead on the T 8 4 flop, but Fernandez picked up additional outs on the 9 turn. Fernandez made a straight on the Q river, and after just 38 hands at the final table Kaplan’s exit reduced the field to just five players.

After continuing to chip up nicely through the next few orbits, Fernandez got a huge double through Gillis, getting all in on a T 9 7 with K Q against A A. The T put Fernandez on the brink, but the 7 made his flush and shipped the 1.9 million pot in Fernandez’s direction.

Divkovic continued to dominate this final table by taking out Kanit, the former chipleader. Hennigan raised to 80,000, Divkovic called on the button and Kanit three-bet all in for 740,000. Hennigan folded, Divkovic went into the tank and then he eventually found a call. He was well ahead with A T to Kanit’s A 3, and despite picking up chop outs on the 7 7 5 flop and straight outs on the 6 turn, the A river meant the end to Kanit’s tournament in fifth.

Gillis got a measure of revenge against Fernandez, rivering trip tens with 9 T on a K T 4 3 T runout to survive against Fernandez’s K Q. The rest of the level was tame in comparison, with Divkovic and Hennigan out ahead and Fernandez lagging behind as the short stack. When they broke for dinner, here’s how the final four stood:

  • Dejan Divkovic – 3,720,000
  • John Hennigan – 3,090,000
  • Ted Gillis – 2,050,000
  • Jacobo Fernandez – 555,000

Fernandez doubled through Divkovic right off the bat after they returned from the dinner break as his A T flopped an ace and turned a ten to beat Divkovic’s 3 3. Divkovic lost a massive pot to Gillis in another coinflip as his 7 7 fell behind on an A 5 2 flop against A J and failed to catch up. Divkovic doubled his short stack two hands later as Hennigan put him all in from the small blind with Q 3 and Divkovic’s J J held.

The wave of all ins continued as Fernandez open-shoved 11 big blinds from the cutoff and Hennigan called in the small blind. Hennigan was racing once again as his A K took on Fernandez’s T T. The A 6 4 flop put him well ahead and Fernandez couldn’t find a two-outer as it ran out J 8, eliminating him in fourth place.

Divkovic shoved all in and took own the blinds and antes a couple of times to pick up some chips, but he was still in desperate need of a double-up. After Hennigan opened on the button, Divkovic shoved for about 14 big blinds. Gillis cold four-bet all in from the big blind, Hennigan folded, and Divkovic was at risk. He was behind with A 6 and got what should have been a dream flop on an A Q 6 board – only Gillis had A Q. The T turn and J river were bricks and Divkovic, who’s made a big splash in Australia over the last two years, was left to settle for third.

Gillis took a 5.6 million to 3.8 million chip lead into his heads-up match with Hennigan, a two-time WSOP bracelet winner in his own right. Gillis took control of the match after flopping a set and turning a full house, and 10 hands later he closed Hennigan out for the win.

2014 World Series of Poker – $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Final Table Results

  1. Ted Gillis – $514,027
  2. John Hennigan – $319,993
  3. Dejan Divkovic – $222,429
  4. Jacobo Fernandez – $160,193
  5. Mustapha Kanit – $117,079
  6. Jamie Kaplan – $86,609
  7. Hiren Patel – $64,911
  8. Edison Shields – $49,267
  9. Dylan Thomassie – $37,834
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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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