Alex Bilokur is certainly not anonymous when it comes to tournament poker. With nearly $3 million in tournament cashes before last night and a victory in the 2012 PCA High Roller event, he was one of the more recognizable faces of last night’s final table.
It was WSOP Event #28, a $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em Championship that gathered a total of 160 players. Although small in number, the field was certainly not lacking in quality as the likes of Scott Seiver, Humberto Brenes, Erik Seidel, David ‘Chino’ Rheem, Todd Brunson and many other well-known pros sat down to play.
By the last evening, however, the field was down to just ten remaining players and with the quick elimination of Dan Shak in tenth place, the stage was set for the official final table. Shak’s chips went to Rheem and it was Rheem holding the chip lead at the start of nine-handed play.
Apart from Chino, there were several other tough players to go through before Bilokur could claim his bracelet. One of them was Todd Brunson, who was poised for a deep run but ended up getting sixth place and a tad over $75,000 after surrendering his chips to Alex Venovski. Another familiar face was that of Barny Boatman, who came into the final table as the short stack and was first to be eliminated in ninth place after committing his chips in a really bad spot. His exit earned him $37,389.
Soon to follow was Richard Lyndaker, who lost a classic race with his #ah#qh to Brunson’s pocket Nines and hit the rail in 8th, earning $46,500 for his efforts. Pratyush Buddiga fell in seventh, just before Todd, as his flopped set was turned into dust after Ismael Bojang turned a bigger set with his pocket Tens, and Buddiga will take home a story of his bad luck and nearly $59,000 in cash.
After Todd busted, Bojang met his doom as well. He got the last of his chips in against Bilokur, but his #ac#4s was no match for Bilokur’s #as#ks and he was ousted in fifth place, earning just shy of $99,000.
Despite starting the day as the chip leader, Rheem was the next to go. He kept bleeding chips throughout the final table and his final hand saw him getting it in against Matt O’Donnell on the flop of #ks#qs#jc. Chino had top two pair, but it was no good against O’Donnell’s set of Jacks and two cards later Rheem was on his way to the rail, pocketing $131,000.
After Alex Venovski lost all his chips to bust in third place and earn slightly over $178,000, it was heads-up time. It looked like it would be a short one, as Matt O’Donnell had about a nine-to-one chip lead over Bilokur. But for Bilokur, who doesn’t consider himself a professional player and always plays more for the competition and thrill of the game, this was a real challenge he readily accepted.
Bilokur patiently grinded his way back from just 500,000 chips and eventually managed to come into a position of power. He proceeded to grind O’Donnell down until the final hand when the two saw the flop of #9d#2c#8d and all the chips found their way into the middle.
Bilokur was behind with his #qd#jd against O’Donnell’s #ac#qs, but Bilokur had a lot of outs to get ahead. The turn was #9s and O’Donnell needed to fade just one more card to double up. He couldn’t do it, however, as it came #7d, completing Bilokur’s flush and sending O’Donnell out in second place, $246,310 richer.
Alex Bilokur, self-proclaimed amateur and hobbits player, captured his first gold bracelet. He outlived 159 players and was left the sole survivor in a very tough field – a feat even a “real” pro would be proud of!