In the first nine events of the 2007 World Series of Poker, citizens of four different countries have won bracelets, with Russian Alex Kravchenko making history as the first Russian citizen ever to win a gold bracelet in event #9, $1.5k Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo. The 36-year-old businessman originally from Archangel, USSR has two previous cashes in the WSOP, both in 2006. This milestone victory for Kravchenko also labels him as the winner of the largest Omaha tournament ever held at the WSOP with 690 entrants.
Only eight players advanced to the final table after Jordan Morgan eliminated two players on the last hand of ten-handed play, with the chip counts as:
John Varner - 589K
Jordan Morgan - 325K
J.R. Reiss - 260K
Yueqi Zhu - 248K
Alex Kravchenko - 197K
Bryan Devonshire - 186K
Jeffrey Calkins - 154K
Bryan Andrews - 120K
Even in a limit O8 format, swings can be high, and with final table blinds starting at 5K/10K and quickly progressing to 8K/15K, it didn't take long for Yueqi "Rich" Zhu to find himself in trouble with the second-best high and low hands in a pot against Kravchenko, putting him dangerously short-stacked only 30 minutes into final table play.
Even with his short stack, Zhu would not be the first player eliminated off the final table. That "honor" went to Jeff Calkins, eliminated in 8th place for a return of $18,837 on his $1,500 buy-in. Once the dam broke, it took less than ten minutes for the next two short stacks to be sent packing, with Jordan Morgan going home in 7th ($25,430) and Rich Zhu holding on for a 6th place finish ($33,907). Calkins, Morgan and Zhu busted on three consecutive hands, showing the vulnerability of a short stack to getting quartered and counterfeited in a draw-heavy game such as Omaha Hi/Lo.
Almost 45 minutes would pass before the next elimination, when Bryan Devonshire flopped a full house to bounce Bryan Andrews from contention. Andrews, who started the day on the shortest stack, clung to his chips through a tough first two hours for a 5th place reckoning and a $43,796 payday.
Ten minutes later, J.R. Reiss was all-in in a three-way pot against Alex Kravchenko and chipleader John Varner, but he came in second best on both the high and low hands. Varner and Kravchenko split the pot, and Reiss got all of the 4th place prize money ($60,749).
After nearly three hours of final table play, three players remained:chipleader Bryan Devonshire (950K), Alex Kravchenko (655K) and John Varner (485K). The players went on a short unscheduled "requested" break, immediately after which Kravchenko took the chip lead from Devonshire in a 180K pot.
Chipleader to start the day, John Varner ran into trouble at the final table and held the short stack after Devonshire and Kravchenko picked up multiple small pots and scalps. Varner fell victim to the swings of Omaha for the last time four hours into the final table when Devonshire flopped a flush and bounced Varner from contention in 3rd place ($92,301).
Starting with a 2:1 chip advantage in heads-up play, it didn't take Kravchenko long to put the final nail in Bryan Devonshire's coffin. Both players agreed to forego the dinner break, and after an hour of heads-up play, Kravchenko won his first WSOP bracelet with a final hand of on a board of for trip fours to best Devonshire's Aces up with his hand of .
With no low on the board, Kravchenko scooped the final hand of the tournament to take down the largest Omaha tourney in WSOP history (although not the largest prize pool, as the 2006 event had a $2,000 buy-in). Devonshire's consolation prize of $140,336 wasn't enough to salve his wounds as he watched Kravchenko take down the bracelet and the $228,446 top prize.
It was a big step forward for Devonshire. He was runner-up in last year's $500 Casino Employees Event ($66,528), an event that some feel isn't a "real" bracelet event. Regardless of opinion, this result fully stamps Bryan Devonshire as a player to watch.
Alexander Kravchenko is no stranger to tournament success, with several notable wins in Europe under his belt. He won the Austrian Masters Pot-Limit Championship in 2001. He also won the Russian Pot-Limit Championship that same year. His most recent win before this was a Limit Hold'em title at the Helsinki Frezeout in 2002. Other notable entrants in this record-setting field include WSOP bracelet holder Dr. Max Stern, who cashed in 56th, to bring his lifetime winning at the World Series to $750,000 and 24 lifetime cashes.