Pot-limit Omaha is an action game, one that requires not only knowledge of Omaha and pot-limit strategies but a special knack for a game that can contain huge swings and requires guts to keep up. Add a $5,000 buy-in to that game, and one would think the field might be rather insignificant, but the there were 363 souls up for the challenge. But in the end, out of all of the recognizable names in the field, an unknown player won and insulted all who craved that bracelet by refusing to participate in interviews or the next day’s ceremony. Nevertheless, his victory must be reported for history’s sake.
The prize pool established by the field was $1,706,100, with a substantial $409,484 set aside for the winner but something available to all of the last 36 players standing. That point wasn’t reached on Day 1, though, as there were 64 players still in the game, but Day 2 finally saw the money bubble burst when Tex Barch left in 37th place. And as the night came to an end and the final table edged closer, Richard Tatalovich became the 12th place finisher and the last for the night.
Day 3 began with 11 players and Sorel Mizzi in the chip lead, but PLO can be a volatile game and anything could happen on the way to the official final table. Play started slowly, as the big stacks were tempted to push around the smaller stacks of Jeppe Nielsen, Samuel Ngai, and Isaac Baron, but it took some time for the action to even get to fifth street on any hand.
Finally, Nielsen was the one to move, and it was due to the pressure of Cliff Josephy, who reraised preflop with . As Baron folded and decided not to risk it there, Nielsen had a different idea and called with the remainder of his chips with . The board ran out , and Nielsen was ousted in 11th place with $32,330.
The last ten players were put together at one table, though it wouldn’t be the official final table until there were only nine. It was shortly thereafter that Baron pushed his short-stack all-in with against the of Richard Austin. The dealer gave them , and Baron was eliminated in tenth place with $32,330.
The official final table was then set with the following players and chip counts:
Seat 1: Felipe Ramos 452,000
Seat 2: Cliff Joesphy 1,027,000
Seat 3: Richard Austin 563,000
Seat 4: Rifat Palevic 989,000
Seat 5: Sorel Mizzi 869,000
Seat 6: Dan Hindin 282,000
Seat 7: Van Marcus 544,000
Seat 8: Samuel Ngai 182,000
Seat 10: Peter Jetten 430,000
It didn’t take long for the first elimination to take place, as Ngai decided to go up against Marcus preflop. Ngai showed , and Marcus showed the dominating hand of . The board came , and the best full house won, knocking Samuel Ngai out in ninth place with $43,539.
Next to put his tournament life on the line was Jetten, who went to the flop with several other players to see . Everyone checked to the on the turn, at which point, Jetten and Ramos got into a raising war that drove Hindin and Marcus out of the pot and ended with Jetten all-in holding . Austin was there with , and the river of allowed the result to stay. Peter Jetten was eliminated in eighth place with $48,112.
Van Marcus then took a hit to his stack when Hindin managed to double through Marcus, and then he got involved in a subsequent hand with Josephy. Raising between the two blinds drove Palevic, Mizzi, and Hindin out of the pot, and Marcus ended up calling all-in with . Josephy turned over . The dealer brought nothing to help the short stack when he gave them . Marcus was out in seventh place with $55,687.
The action didn’t exactly come to a halt six-handed, but it took some time and changes in chip ownership before another player would leave the table. In the meantime, Palevic had a rough time when Mizzi took a major pot from him and left him with about 120K, though he was able to come back and double through Austin and later through Mizzi to stay alive.
Ramos tried to double-up as well. He pushed all-in preflop with , and Mizzi was the only caller with . The flop came , but it was the on the turn that changed the tone of the hand. The on the river gave Mizzi the winning hand, and Felipe Ramos was forced out in sixth place with $67,663 in prize money.
Palevic tried to keep his momentum going and double again, this time preflop with to the of Mizzi. The board came , and the best two pair knocked Rifat Palevic out in fifth place with $86,516.
Suddenly, action seemed to speed up, and another player - Dan Hindin - was all-in preflop with against the of Austin. When the board produced , Austin’s two pair were best, and Hindin was gone in fourth place with $116,748.
During three-handed play, Austin seemed in control and chipped up to a solid lead, while the recognizable Mizzi and Josephy pushed to stay away from short stack status.
Ultimately, the tournament was resolved in one hand. It started with a limp from Austin and Mizzi, followed by a raise from Josephy. Austin called, but Mizzi reraised. Josephy responded with an all-in move for the last of his chips, which was called by Austin and Mizzi. After the flop hit , Mizzi pushed all-in and was called by Austin. All three players turned up the following cards:
The on the turn did nothing but the on the river gave Austin the flush and the winning hand. That left Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy with a third place finish and $166,771, and Sorel Mizzi took second place with $253,048.
Richard Austin took the bracelet and $409,484 for the WSOP event victory. However, upon being approached by tournament staff for an interview in order to give him proper kudos for the win, he refused it all, including the following day’s bracelet ceremony. He took his bracelet, went to the cashier’s cage to collect his winnings, and left. According to the post-victory press release to the media:
“Austin is the first WSOP winner to decline participation in post-tournament activities. All other 34 gold bracelet winners this year have agreed to participate in interviews and festivities.”