Schulman, who lives in New York City, celebrated his 21st birthday just eight weeks ago. He took home a record-breaking win of $2,167,500, including a $25,000 + 500 entry into the WPT Championship Event, to be held in Las Vegas next year.
The final table of six players contained more than one seasoned pro. Schulman led the field coming into it with 45% of the chips. His fellow combatants for the record prize pool were Lyle Berman, who has been called “the Godfather of Poker” and is in the Poker Hall of Fame, Bill Gazes, a well-known tournament pro who lives in Las Vegas, and Allen Cunningham, the 2005 World Series of Poker Player of the Year. Also contending for the top prizes were Tony Licastro, who exclusively plays live tournaments, and Lenny Cortellino, a regular at Foxwoods who hails from Maine. Cortellino was designated Foxwoods’ Best Overall Player and had just won the $5,000 No-limit event on November 11th (taking home over $377,000). Nick Schulman himself has achieved recognition as a strong online player known as “TheTakeover.” He was also a successful player on New York City’s underground poker scene, before the recent closures of those games.
These were the chip counts coming in to the final table:
- Nick Schulman - $3,502,000
- Tony Licastro - $1,412,000
- Allen Cunningham - $795,000
- Lenny Cortellino - $773,000
- Bill Gazes - $693,000
- Lyle Berman - $659,000
Action at the final table was hot, heavy and short, lasting less than four hours. Cortellino was the first to be eliminated, when his pocket 8’s ran into Tony Licastro’s pocket 10’s. Cortellino added $276,000 to his earlier winnings with his sixth place finish.
Lyle Berman was eliminated next, when he went all-in with A-J and got called by Schulman, with A-K. Berman collected $354,000 for fifth place. Then Allen Cunningham went all-in with J-10 and also lost to Nick, who held pocket Kings. Cunningham won $483,000.
Perhaps the most exciting hand of the final table happened when it was down to three players, and Bill Gazes’ pocket Aces lost to Tony Licastro, who held K-10 and flopped a straight. Soon after, Gazes held K-8 and had to settle for third place when his all-in lost to Schulman’s A-Q. Gazes took home $759,000.
Heads-up play between Schulman and Licastro lasted for only four hands. It ended with a bang when Licastro went all-in on the turn with two pair, eights and deuces. Schulman called with the better hand - a flush. The river failed to bring Licastro a full house, and Schulman took it down. He is the youngest player ever to win a WPT event.
This year’s World Poker Finals attracted record-breaking fields for many of its tournaments. Several of the events registered more than five hundred players, with a field of 1245 for the $500 No-limit event.
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