When the WSOP started a bit over a month ago, there were 65 tournaments in the series for players to look forward to. Last night, we witnessed the conclusion of Event #60, clearly indicating that we are running out of events. Whether players are looking for their first bracelet or trying to add another one to a collection, there are very few shots left as the last tournament of the series, the Main Event, starts tonight.
Salman Jaddi is one of those lucky ones who managed to get their hands on a bracelet just as the tournament schedule was becoming small enough to fit comfortably on a post-it note. The last $1,500 event attracted a big field of 2,563 players, thus promising the winner a monster prize of $614,248.
But as is always the case, there could only be one winner while everyone else would be left to regret a decision or a play made at a certain point. The remaining nine players who gathered at the final table of Event #60 all knew that.
It wasn’t a star-studded final table by any standard, but Jaddi had some work to do if he was going to come out on top. He began the final table in the middle of the pack in chip counts, with quite limited playing experience. But the amateur went on a heater and everything went his way for the first half of the final table as he proceeded to eliminate five players.
First he took out Kurt Jewell ($45,603), winning a standard flip. Then he crushed the hopes of the only bracelet winner at the table, Steve Sung ($59,547), after making the best hand with his #kc#10d to Sung’s #ac#10h. Also sent to the rail was Thomas Dietl ($78,681) after yet another flip.
Jaddi didn’t stop there as he proceeded to take the chips of the short-stacked David Bravin ($105,185) and Cherish Andrews ($142,346), whose pocket Queens were only the second best hand to Jaddi’s Kings.
After his strong performance, Sam took a step back. He left the rest of the work to Brandon Hall, who took the chips of Guillauma Marechal ($194,939) and Zachary Gruneberg ($270,299), who was at his third final table of the series. With those knockouts, Hall entered the heads-up with about a 2.5:1 chip lead over Jaddi, but they were in for a long haul.
Although an amateur, Jaddi was not ready to give up that easily. He pulled all the tricks he could, including the “I am not sure what I’m doing” one, to end the night with the chip lead. And as the game dragged into the night, the clock was stopped and the players were scheduled to return tomorrow for the big finale.
Once they returned tonight, however, it was all over in something over an hour. Jaddi was able to turn his relatively small lead into a big gap and very quickly had Hall holding on for his tournament life. Hall took his last stand by shoving #ah#2d and received a call from his opponent who was holding #qh#10h.
The flop looked good for Hall, as it came #kh#ac#9s, leaving Jaddi with the gutshot and backdoor outs. However, the #2h turn was a scary card, as although it gave Hall two pair, it opened the possibility of a heart flush for Jaddi. The dealer turned over the final card of the tournament, the #6h, to eliminate Hall in second place with a $381,885 prize.
Salman Jaddi became an unlikely winner, even admitting it himself in an interview after the event. “I’m a business owner. I love playing the game poker. Anyone has a shot to win this thing.” And it may well be true – anyone has a shot, but it was Jaddi who put his to good use, earning $614,248 for his efforts and a gold WSOP bracelet as well.