He was not to be denied! Nobody could stop German Dominik Nitsche from his journey of rewriting history in Las Vegas, not even unfavorable flops and turns, and certainly not even unfavorable percentages.
Nitsche needed four double-ups in the final heads-up round in order to win his third World Series of Poker bracelet and enter the history books. He became the most successful German in Las Vegas and only the second European with three or more WSOP wins, joining Belgian Davidi Kitai. But that’s not all; the German is also the youngest three-time bracelet winner EVER at the age of 23, surpassing poker legend Phil Ivey, who set the previous mark at the age of 24.
I’ve been playing poker for seven years. At this rate, I really think I can catch Phil Helllmuth (who has 13 wins). Of course, he and Phil Ivey are great players so to be talked in the same breath as them is really something for me. I will just say I am really proud to come to Las Vegas where I have enjoyed a lot of success over the years,” Nitsche told WSOP.com.
The German started his historic run with the third biggest stack entering the final day of Event #21: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’Em. Sixteen players remained after the first two days and seven more had to leave the tourney for the official final table to unfold. Lance Harris was the unlucky bubble boy after losing a race with his #10c#10d.
With the final nine in place, the action resumed and after just 21 hands, the tight full ring table switched to a loose 6-max affair. David Burt ($24,702), Billy Horan ($32,168), and Eric Milas ($42,382) were the first to leave, getting out of the way of the poker pros who were starting to dominate the final table. Players like Nitsche and 2011 November Niner Bob Bounahra, but not Jeff Gross. Gross re-raised all-in from the blinds with #ac#ks and was called by Nitsche’s #qc#qd. The board bricked for Gross, who packed his things and went to the cashier to receive his sixth place prize worth $56,549.
The German also eliminated online expert Thayer “THAY3R” Rasmussen. Like Gross, Rasmussen had Big Slick but had to improve in order to beat Nitsche’s #10d#10s. Once again the board bricked and “THAY3R” had to settle for a fifth place finish plus a $76,443 cash prize.
And the run continued for the 23-year-old player as he made yet another victim in Zachary Gruneberg ($104,594). “I’m calling,” Nitsche decided after Gruneberg shoved his whole stack. The call turned out to be a good move as the German spiked a queen on the flop to outrun Gruneberg’s #ah#js.
Three-handed play had its fair share of ups and downs and ended with a three-way pot. Nitsche started the aggression, Bounahra raised all-in, and Dave D’Alesandro re-shoved. The German eventually called, only to see a table full of pocket pairs: #7d#7h vs. #10h#10d vs. #qh#qd, with D’Alesandro holding the big lead. Bounahra’s pocket sevens didn’t improve at all and sent the former November Niner to the rail with a consolation prize of $145,229.
D’Alesandro had a huge chip advantage to start the heads-up play but couldn’t clinch it. He first called an all-in with #ac#qh; Nitsche had #9h#10h and was ready to call it quits after the first four community cards brought him nothing. The #10c river, however, resurrected him and gave him hope. So did the next all-in, #ah#2s vs. #10c#9h. Neither player connected with the board and the German took that pot with Ace high. The run-good continued as the 23-year-old turned a set over D’Alesandro’s flopped two pairs.
Hand #261 of the official final table brought Nitsche yet another fight for his tournament life, winning with #as#6s. Thirty-one hands later, D’Alesandro was finished, losing another close battle preflop: #kd#6h > #qc#7d. He did win the biggest WSOP cash prize of his career for his runner-up finish: $208,931.
Congratulations to Dominik Nitsche on winning his third gold bracelet plus the first-place prize of $335,659. Can he dethrone Phil Hellmuth in the all-time WSOP bracelet winners’ leaderboard?