Koon and Engel win wrist candy
Field sizes might be down so far, but there’s been no shortage of excitement at the 2021 World Series of Poker. Week 1 brought its fair share of marquee results, but the series really came alive as a spectacle on Day 8. On Thursday night, three new bracelet winners were crowned as big names Jason Koon, Ari Engel, and Yuval Bronshtein all took home some wrist candy.
to relinquish the title of “best player to not have a bracelet”
Out of a field of 57 entries in Event #11: the $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship, Koon defeated Hungary’s Gabor Szabo in the final round to relinquish the title of “best player to not have a bracelet.” (It’s over to you now Stevie Chidwick!) He also banked $243,981 for the result.
Meanwhile, in another part of the Rio, the popular Engel outlasted 133 other players, ultimately beating Zachary Milchman heads-up in Event #9: the Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship to claim his second WSOP bracelet and $317,076.
Koon’s finally in the winner’s circle
Speaking after his final victory, Jason Koon was elated and exhausted in equal measure. “I am another level of tired, honestly,” he said. “The wife and everybody have been doing so much to help with the baby. We were up at 8:30am today taking him to a doctor’s appointment.”
Koon’s son Callum was born just a fortnight ago and a few days ago, Koon was unveiled as GGPoker’s new ambassador. This bracelet is therefore cause for a third celebration in quick succession.
The significance of a WSOP title as a slice of poker history was not lost on Koon, who has never prioritized winning a bracelet, but has also wished to get the monkey off his back.
“It’s one of those things when you’re on an airplane and a person is like, ‘Do you have a bracelet?’ I’m just like, ‘Nope.’ At least I can finally say yes to that,” he quipped, before making a bold prediction. “When it’s all said and done I think it’s inevitable I’ll have several of them.”
The top eight finishers earned a portion of the $721,625 in prize money. Payouts were distributed as follows:
2021 WSOP Event #11 Results
1st: Jason Koon – $243,981
2nd: Gabor Szabo – $150,790
3rd: Henri Puustinen – $89,787
4th: Dan Zack – $89,787
5th: Mikita Badziakouski – $36,820
6th: Bin Weng – $36,820
7th: Benjamin Reason – $36,820
8th: Jake Daniels – $36,820
Engel modest in victory
Despite a career filled with huge live and online results, Ari Engel had a historically dismal record at the WSOP until 2019. In fact, the moniker of “best to not have won one” could have been applied to him before he took down 2019 WSOP Event #48: $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em. Now he goes on an illustrious lists of winners at back-to-back series.
Engel was optimistic coming into Day 8 and the final day of the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship event with the chip lead.
Phil Hellmuth was also in the mix, in pursuit of his record 16th bracelet, but there would be no dream comeback for “The Poker Brat,” who came in as short stack. Engel retained the chip lead and claimed another piece of WSOP gold.
Engel was modest in his post-tournament interview, giving credit to second place finisher Milchman. “He played amazing and I easily could have lost it,” Engel said. “It’s not like I was crushing him or anything close to that.”
He also expressed gratitude for his vociferous rail: “It’s rare for me to have a crazy rail like I had today, so that’s really exciting that I did have so many friends around. That made it all the sweeter.”
Engle posted an equally modest tweet:
2021 WSOP Event #9 Final Table Results
1st: Ari Engel – $317,076
2nd: Zachary Milchman – $195,968
3rd: Andrew Yeh – $143,988
4th: Eddie Blumenthal – $107,204
5th: Phil Hellmuth – $80,894
6th: George Wolff – $61,877
7th: Robert Mizrachi – $47,987
8th: Ben Landowski – $37,738
9th: Khamar Xaytavone – $30,102
Vegas roundup and look ahead to Day 9
It was actually a really big day for mixed games in Las Vegas, as mixed game specialist Yuval Bronshtein took down Event #12: $1,500 Limit Hold’em, defeating Kevin Erickson heads-up to take home $124,374.
Across town in the Westgate Casino, 2004 WSOP Main Event winner Greg “Fossilman” Raymer won the Cardplayer Lifestyle Mixed Game Festival’s $200 HORSE Main Event, which had a $30,000 Platinum Pass added.
Looking ahead to Day 9 at the WSOP, there is one standout final table worth keeping an eye on. In Event #13, Brandon Caputo leads a remaining field of seven players, but Michael Gathy in second place overnight is the man to watch as he goes for his fifth WSOP bracelet. Largely flying under the radar, Gathy is a “get it quietly” type, but the Belgian pro has won four bracelets in the last decade, a feat only matched by Dominik Nitsche. Should he make that number five tomorrow, he will be in a league of his own.