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Partying in Las Vegas: Jeff Smith Takes Down WSOP Event #9 Bracelet

Like any good Hollywood script, it all starts with a party. California-based web developer Jeff Smith arrived in Vegas last weekend first and foremost to have fun. He attended a bachelor party with his buddies, but missed the Millionaire Maker event before deciding to take a shot in another World Series of Poker tournament: Event #9 – $1,000 No Limit Hold’Em.

It was the best decision of his life as he was the last man standing after three days of poker action and 1,1939 eliminations. He also became the first amateur to win a WSOP open event in 2014.

Smith’s final run started yesterday night with the final 12 gathering for one final round. The elimination frenzy began right away and in a matter of just two hours, eight players hit the road. Poker pro Vinny Pahuja was the first to leave the poker felt, running into the deadly Nevada cowboys – #ks#kc.

Dylan Linde and Romanian Cornel Medes followed him, setting the stage for the official nine-handed final table.

The nine-handed play transformed into an eight-handed deal in two hands. Jorge Vergara was the unlucky number nine eliminated after a classic pair vs. overpair preflop battle. Eight hands later, another man was down. David Inselberg check-raised all-in on the #10d#7d#9s flop with #8c#8s and was called by Frank Patti, who had only Ace high – #as#ks. The #ah turn, however, turned the percentages upside down and with the river bricking, Inselberg had to pack his things and leave the bright spotlights.

The fast pace continued with Brad Libson and Chris Hunichen hitting the rail after hand #12 and hand #22, respectively, of the official final table.

And with the big prize of $323,125 in sight, the five players left slowed down, risking their tournament lives with only strong hands. Chris Haugo chose to play that way but his #ah#kc couldn’t catch anything in a race against Danny Nguyen’s #10c#10h. The same can be said about John Fontana, who shoved in the small blind with #9c#9d; unfortunately for him, the initial raiser, Jeff Smith, had #js#jc.

Patti was looser and tried to steal a pot with both Nguyen and Smith involved. He shoved his #ad#4s hand and was called by Nguyen, who had #kc#qc. On the flop, Patti’s opponent spiked a king that would eventually set up heads-up play.

The round between Smith and Nguyen was a true three-hour grind for both players with many ups and downs and chip lead changes. But as opposed to most tournaments, it was not a particular hand that decided the winner; actually it was a dinner break.

Before the break, Smith made an aggressive four-bet shove with #3c#3s with his big stack, only to get called by a big pair – #jd#jc.

Losing that hand right before the break…I kind of just cooled off. I never really get that heated when I play poker, but I had time to cool off and had some time to think about it. I came back with a little different mindset,” the future winner told

After that break everything went Smith’s way as Nguyen would later acknowledge. “Man, you’re catching cards since dinner,” Nguyen said at one point. He was right as several hands later, he was eliminated in second place.

Here are the final payouts:

  1. Jeff Smith – $323,125
  2. Danny Nguyen – $199,829
  3. Frank Patti – $138,160
  4. John Fontana – $99,644
  5. Chris Huago – $72,843
  6. Chris Hunichen – $53,951
  7. Brad Libson – $40,489
  8. David Inselberg – $30,781
  9. Jorge Vergara – $23,693

Congratulations to Jeff Smith on winning his first WSOP gold bracelet. He has big plans with his big prize, saying that he is seriously considering a dream trip to Hawaii. That means more partying for the 26-year-old web developer.

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Florian Gheorghe