KEITH LEHR STANDS HEADS ABOVE ALL THE REST
“Lehr Jet” Skyrockets to His Second WSOP Gold Bracelet Victory, Wins $10K NLHE Heads-Up Championship
Louisiana Gambler Defeats Paul Volpe in Final Match and Collects $334,340
MEET THE LATEST WSOP GOLD BRACELET CHAMPION
Name: Keith Lehr
Birthplace: Shreveport, LA (USA)
Current Residence: Bossier City, LA (USA)
Marital Status: Married
Profession: Professional Gambler
Number of WSOP Cashes: 19
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 5
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 2 (2003, 2015)
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 1st (2003)
Total WSOP Earnings: $1,875,342
Personal Facts: Nicknamed “Lehr Jet”
Better than all the rest.
Keith Lehr was clearly the best in the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Heads-Up Championship. This was the tenth gold bracelet event here at the 2015 World Series of Poker. Lehr won each of his 7 heads-up matches held over a three-day period, resulting in the second gold bracelet victory of his career in poker, which dates back nearly 20 years. Lehr also collected $334,340 in prize money.
Lehr, a professional gambler from Bossier City, LA won his first WSOP gold bracelet back in 2003, the famed year that fellow southerner Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event Championship at Binion’s Horseshoe. Lehr’s victory back then came in the $3,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha event. With this his second victory 12 years later, Lehr now has nearly $1.9 million in career earnings at the series.
Oddly enough, the biggest cash score by Lehr came not from a win, but from a second-place showing three years ago in the $10K buy-in Six-Max here at the Rio Las Vegas, which produced a payday worth more than $700,000. Still, this day was all the sweeter because of the victory. Afterwards, Lehr admitted it’s been a long 12 years of waiting since the last time he picked up a gold bracelet and was beginning to have his doubts.
“It’s nice to be back and get a win this time,” Lehr said. As I get older, I realize it’s a kid’s game. Winning is never easy, especially because it’s so tough now….I don’t play many of these events, maybe just 5 or 6 a year, so for me to get a bracelet is special.”
There were 143 entrants who signed up to play the one-on-one matches, arguably the supreme test of skill and psychology in tournament poker. Lehr won his first three matches played on Tuesday – versus Matthew Hyman, Adam Sobolewski, and Justin Oliver. Then, in the 4th through 6th rounds which were played on Wednesday, he defeated Jake Schindler, Valeriu Coca, and Dee Tiller in succession to get a seat in the heads-up finals. The sixth round match against a longtime friend, Tiller, was particularly grueling, lasting three hours.
On Thursday, Lehr faced another gold bracelet winner aiming for his second victory, Paul Volpe, who lives in the Philadelphia area. Many expected a long match that might take several hours to complete. Indeed, Heads-Up matches in the past at the WSOP have sometimes lasted as long as six or seven hours. However, Lehr surprised just about everyone by eliminating Volpe in about 45 minutes. Volpe was denied the chance to win his second WSOP title in just two years.
The finale was played on the ESPN Main Stage and streamed live online at WSOP.com. After taking over the chip lead about midway through the short match, Lehr was quite fortunate on the final hand, spiking a higher second pair on the river. Lehr shoved all-in on the turn when he paired his queen, which was good for top pair. Volpe was thrilled to make the call, since he’d flopped two small pair. With one card still to come, Lehr caught a miracle, pairing his other card, which meant his queens and eights topped Volpe’s sixes and threes. Lehr was declared the winner, and Volpe had to settle for $206,620 as a consolation prize and a bad beat story, knowing he got his money in with the best of it.
Lehr knew he was lucky this time around, managing to catch the break that had eluded him twice in past WSOP events when he also finished as runner up. With this win, Lehr now owns two gold bracelets, a WSOP Circuit gold ring won at Bossier City (his hometown) won in 2013, and two second-place finishes at the WSOP.
“I’m not sure how many more of these I can win,” Lehr said. “They are getting tougher to get each time I come out here.”
OTHER NOTABLE IN-THE MONEY FINISHERS:
Two-time gold bracelet winner and former November Niner J.C. Tran cashed, busting out in the quarterfinals.
George Danzer, a three-time winner who won two gold bracelets at the 2014 WSOP, cashed in this event.
This is the ninth consecutive year that a Heads-Up event has been included on the WSOP schedule. Most years have been with $10,000 buy-ins, although a $25,000 buy-in was included as well.
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