Australian Sam Higgs wouldn’t have been blamed for getting a little complacent on the eve of the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha final table. After all, he was starting with more than half the chips in play and four times the stack of his closest competitor.
Higgs, a 32-year old Melbourne local, ultimately did manage to keep a level head, controlling the tempo of the table and eventually winning the fifth event of the 2014 WSOP APAC.
“It was a tough line-up, but you have to push yourself,” Higgs said following his victory. “To beat the best you got to be the best, they say.”
In the end, Higgs did just that.
For that result Higgs picked up the $127,843 top prize, his first WSOP gold bracelet and in the end denied prominent Canadian Mike Watson from finally winning his first bracelet after making six career WSOP final tables.
The credentials of his opponents, however, didn’t waver the confidence that Higgs felt coming into the final day.
“It was a tough field, but PLO is definitely my preferred game. I generally do well in these tournaments. I’m my most comfortable playing PLO no matter who it’s against.”
Higgs doesn’t’ tell a lie as earlier this year he won the $1,100 Pot Limit Omaha tournament at the Aussie Millions. That result netted Higgs $47,500 and that was his largest result prior to today.
Despite having an Aussie Millions gold ring and now a WSOP bracelet in his collection, Higgs doesn’t consider himself a professional poker player. He’s too busy running a successful tattoo parlour in Melbourne’s north.
Higgs even joked about getting a tattoo to commemorate his bracelet win, but for now he is just letting it sink in that he has won a WSOP gold bracelet. It meant more to him then the six-figures ever could.
“The money is awesome. You can’t ever complain about cash, but winning a bracelet is the ultimate prize.”
Higgs’ wife, who supported him on the rail throughout the tournament, was absolutely elated for her husband. She knew just how much it meant to him.
Watch the final table in its entirety.
“He doesn’t care about the money, he just wants the bracelet,” she said. “He loves the titles, the rings, trophies, bracelets. I’m so stoked for him.”
There were 80 total players to kick off this $5,000 buy-in three-day tournament and 73 of those bought in on Day 1, while seven opted to enter at the start of Day 2.
When Day 1 came to end there were 19 players with chips, but none with more than Australia’s Jamie Pickering who had the chip lead. His stack of 105,900 was just ahead of 2010 WSOP World Champion Jonathan Duhamel with 102,000.
Duhamel’s fellow champion Greg Merson was also still alive at the end of Day 1, along with six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu and prominent pros Mike Watson, Aaron Lim, Richard Ashby, Jeff Rossiter and Dan Heimiller.
With a few new players registering at the start of Day 2 there were 26 total players to kick off the penultimate day of action. The top eight were set to pocket at least $15,021. The rest of the players, meanwhile, would be sent home empty handed.
Negreanu was notably eliminated a few spots off the money, while it was Nathan Pan who would be sent home in a meaningless ninth place and be deemed the bubble boy. Pan lost his chips to the eventual overwhelming final table chip leader, Australian Sam Higgs.
Because the players got down to a final table of eight so quickly it was decided Day 2 would continue until six players remained. Richard Johnston ended up the first out in the money in 8th place, while Kahle Burns finished in 7th place, which is noteworthy considering he was one of the seven players who bought in on Day 2. That also continues a great run for Burns at the WSOP APAC. He finished 5th in the WSOP APAC Main Event in 2013 and placed 10th in the Accumulator event just a few days ago.
Having gone on a rampage late on Day 2, Aussie Sam Higgs was far and away the chip leader heading into the final day. He had a stack of 667,000 in chips, which was more than half of all the chips in play and more than four times Jonathan Duhamel with the next largest stack of 153,000.
Compared to Higgs, Austria’s Ismael Bojang was at the other end of the spectrum with just 44,000 heading into the final day. Bojang wasn’t able to run that stack up either. He finished in 6th place, sending his chips to Canadian Mike Watson.
Higgs was able to use his chip stack to control the tempo during the early stages of the final day, but was faced with stiff competition from world-class players like Watson, Duhamel and Australia’s second most prolific tournament money earner Jeff Rossiter.
The lesser known local, Jamie Pickering, was also still involved at this point and considering he finished 2nd in the $1,500 PLO event at the 2008 WSOP, was certainly not going to give up without a fight. That runner-up result was notably in the event that saw Vanessa Selbst win her first bracelet.
When Rossiter fell in 5th and Pickering in 4th, it was a fight between Watson looking to finally capture his first gold bracelet, Duhamel trying to secure his second and Higgs doing it for the local crowd as he aimed to add a bracelet to his resume which includes an Aussie Millions title.
Higgs still had a dominating chip lead when three-handed play kicked off and while Watson started to build a bit of a stack, Higgs maintained his lead after he sent Duhamel to the rail in 3rd place.
With that result Duhamel added $52,068 to his more than $12.4 million in lifetime results, but is still desperately seeking his sophomore bracelet win after now missing out on the victory at three WSOP final tables.
It took just over 50 hands and less than two hours to reach heads-up, but it would take another 50 hands for the tournament to be decided. Higgs had a two-to-one chip lead to begin heads-up, but Watson chipped away and evened it up on two occasions. The favour swung back in Higgs’ favour and eventually he dealt the fatal blow to Watson to capture the victory.
Here are the full results from the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha:
1st: Sam Higgs - $127,843
2nd: Mike Watson - $79,099
3rd: Jonathan Duhamel - $52,068
4th: Jamie Pickering - $36,449
5th: Jeff Rossier - $27,011
6th: Ismael Bojang - $21,123
7th: Kahle Burns - $17,386
8th: Richard Johnston- $15,021