The day would not be his as he was the first player to bow out. Taylor Paur went to the final table with the chip lead and survived one of the strangest heads-up matches of the summer to claim his first bracelet and $340,260.
“It’s amazing, as a poker player it’s a dream,” Paur said. “It’s hard to really live in the moment a lot but I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s hard to appreciate right now as big of a moment as it is.”
Paur’s heads-up match with Roy Weiss was among the strangest heads-up matches in WSOP history. Before the two went on dinner break Weiss was mostly check-calling all streets and raised on the button sparingly. After returning from dinner Weiss moved all in preflop every single hand with only one exception.
“I’ve never seen anything like it and I don’t imagine anyone has ever gone all in every hand while heads-up for a bracelet,” Paur said. “I even said walking back from dinner that someone would tell him to move all in every single hand and I couldn’t actually believe anyone would do it.”
“I honestly think he disrespected the game, it’s not poker,” Paur said. “It’s not everyday that you get to play heads-up for a bracelet. I’m trying to play for a bracelet not flip coins for a bracelet. I feel it was disrespectful to everyone else that played in the event. They were trying to win, not to see who can get the luckiest.”
Ivey was crippled during the first orbit of play when he called Ryan Austin‘s shove with A 9 and Austin was slightly ahead with A T. Ivey didn’t improve his hand and was just shy of six big blinds. He got all in two hands later with A 4 against Paur’s pocket sevens. Paur flopped a set and Ivey scored his first cash of this WSOP with 14th place.
Paur took the chip lead into the final table with 1.3 million and it didn’t take long for him to put his stack to use. Paur opened for a min-raise, Austin moved all in for 565,000 and Kyle Cartwright shoved on the button for 382,000. The blinds released, Paur called and the hands were tabled. Paur held pocket aces, Austin turned up pocket jacks and Cartwright tabled pocket queens. The board ran K K 8 A 2 and Paur’s full house knocked out both players. Cartwright went out in ninth as he was shorter in chips than Austin and Paur stacked up 2.3 million and a seven-figure chip lead.
Daniel Idema was in the small blind and with no action in front of him he moved all in for 450,000, DJ MacKinnon was in the big blind, peeked at his cards and snap-called with pocket aces. Idema tabled K Q and needed Broadway cards to improve. The board ran all rags with four hearts on the board and MacKinnon held the A for the nut flush.
About 30 minutes and 20 hands later Phillip Hui open-shoved on the button with his short stack and Alex Barlow quickly called from the big blind with pocket queens. Hui tabled 9 8, watched the board run A 3 2 8 4 and exited the tournament in sixth place.
Paur was clearly in control of the table holding a 1.5 million chip lead over Tai Nguyen. Paur went on a run where he won 18 of 22 pots played and even doubled up Roy Weiss without affecting his stack too much. Paur chipped up to 3.5 million with almost half the chips in play while MacKinnon, Barlow, Nguyen and Weiss all had less than a million.
MacKinnon was the first player to make a stand and challenge Paur. MacKinnon opened on the button for 65,000, Paur bumped it up to 140,000 and MacKinnon moved all in tabling pocket kings. Paur turned up pocket aces and MacKinnon needed help to stay alive. He wouldn’t get it when the board ran 9 6 3 5 Q and was eliminated in fifth place.
The very next hand Barlow shoved preflop for 115,000 and picked up calls from Paur and Weiss. The two active players checked to the river on a K 7 3 3 A board. Paur bet 60,000 on the river, Weiss folded and Paur turned up A 8 for aces up and Barlow was eliminated holding K 9 in fourth place.
Paur maintained his massive chip lead even with doubling up Nguyen and Weiss each over an hour. Then Paur min-raised from the button, Nguyen called and the flop fell 9 7 3. Paur led for 85,000, Nguyen raised to 210,000, Paur moved all in and Nguyen called with Q T. Paur turned up A K for a better flush draw and the lead. The board completed with 8 6 and Nguyen was out in third place.
The heads-up match began with Paur holding 4.8 million to Weiss’ 1.43 million. Weiss won a series of medium sized pots, mostly by calling or check-callling to the river to pass Paur for the chip lead for the first time of the final table. But Weiss did not hold on to the lead for long, Paur took 20 hands to work the counts back in his favor of 5.5 million to Weiss’ 715,000.
Then the scheduled dinner break arrived and Paur wanted to only take a 15-20 minute break but Weiss wanted the full hour to grab a bite to eat. On one of the early hands back from break Weiss doubled up with A 6 against Paur’s K J. The board ran A T 8 J A and Weiss doubled up to stay competitive.
There must have been something in the water where Weiss had dinner because he returned he shoved all in preflop in eight of the first ten hands. Paur eventually responded with, “Why are you even looking (at his cards)?” Weiss wasn’t faded and kept moving all in.
Weiss open-shoved on the button, Paur called with A T and Weiss tabled J 8. The board ran K T 6 Q 8 and Weiss doubled up. Paur was visibly frustrated and walked away from the table while the chips were counted out.
Weiss took advantage of Paur’s frustration and continued to move all in every hand. Then Paur called holding pocket sixes and Weiss tabled 7 5. The board ran A J T 5 T and Paur pulled close to even.
Weiss continued to play wildly and shoved preflop again holding 6 3 and Paur called with A 9. The board ran Q 2 2 T Q and Paur was back on top.
Weiss open-shoved again, Paur called with A 9 and Weiss tabled Q 5. The board ran 6 5 2 Q 2 and Paur lost another double up. Paur walked over to his rail and said, “This is disrespectful to poker. I’ve never seen anything this crazy.”
The very next hand Weiss shoved for the umsdpteenth time, Paur called with A 5 and Weiss tabled K 8. The board ran A K 6 A Q and Paur won the pot and his first gold bracelet.
Event 18 Final Table Payouts
- Taylor Paur – $340,260
- Roy Weiss – $211,794
- Tai Nguyen – $147,220
- Kevin Barlow – $106,027
- DJ MacKinnon – $77,491
- Phillip Hui – $57,324
- Daniel Idema – $42,962
- Ryan Austin – $32,608
- Kyle Cartwright – $25,041
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