LAS VEGAS (5 July 2017) – Israel's Shai Zurr claimed bracelet gold on Wednesday in the fast-paced Event #65 of the 2017 World Series of Poker, $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em (30 minute levels).
Zurr, 34, from Petach Tikva, Israel, earned $223,241 for winning this turbo-styled tourney, which featured blinds that rose twice as fast – every 30 minutes instead of every 60 minutes – as most other WSOP no-limit hold'em events.
The win for Zurr was his first gold bracelet victory, and the payday here improved his lifetime WSOP earnings to $292,699. The win was also the second for an Israeli player in this year's WSOP, joining the bracelet won by Ben Baruch Maya in Event #43, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout.
Zurr's triumph came at the expense of Serbia's Ognjen Sekularac, who narrowly missed becoming that country's first-ever WSOP bracelet winner.
New York's Alex Foxen, a former WSOP Circuit ring winner, took third place for $98,761. This was Foxen's 11th cash and second final table of the 2017 WSOP.
Zurr picked off both of his last foes, Foxen and Sekularac, in all-in hands where both players had aces but Zurr had the better kicker. The blinds had risen to the point where three-bet shoves were for all the shorter stack's chips, and both Foxen and Sekularac saw their runs end in similar fashion.
First, Foxen, while holding moved all in pre-flop over the top of a Zurr raise. Zurr had and called, and his better starting hand won, but only after some suspense. The flop put Foxen ahead, and the turn kept him there, but Zurr made his own pair when the appeared on the river.
A few hands later, it was Sekularac's turn to push the last of his chips, in this instance with . Zurr had A-Q again – – and again the hand worked. The tourney's final board ran out . Zurr officially made a straight to win, but any non-deuce on the final card worked just as well.
Talking with the WSOP, Zurr related how he was more used to slower tourney structures than Event #65's fast-climbling blinds, but in this case, itserved him well. Zurr had attended a Fourth of July party the prior night and decided that a two-day, shortened-levels event might be the better option... as indeed it was. “I didn't want to play a long, big tournament after partying all night,” he admitted.
Zurr also noted, “...There is less [strategic] play, but there is still some play. Indeed, Zurr's final surge to the win was triggered by one such moment during three-handed action. Zurr was on the short stack and facing a raise on the river from Sekularac. Zurr pondered at length, then called with just ace-high for nearly half his chips. That was good enough, since Sekularac had only king-high, and a healthy share of chips shifted Zurr's way.
From there it was downhill to the win. “I am so happy to join the bracelet-winner family and also the Israeli bracelet-winner family,” he said.
Zurr's triumph was several hours off when Day 3 action began. The high-speed pace was on display from the final day's opening hand, when the first of 27 Day 2 survivors was bounced to the rail before his seat was warm. That player was Germany's Gereon Sowa, but his path wasn't lonely; 12 more players joined him in the payout line after just an hour of Day 3 play.
The unofficial final table of 10 was set soon after, and that in turn was trimmed to an official nine with David Valcourt's elimination. Ninth soon went to Joseph Liberta, sent to the rail when his pocket sixes were no good against Erick But's A-K on a J-Q-J-A-5 runout.
Eight-place money went to a short-stacked John Brown just one hand later, when his A-3 couldn't overcome Foxen's pocket nines. That board eventually read 2-J-J-J-8, putting Brown's run to an end.
Zurr picked up his first final-table KO by sending Aaron Hirst off in seventh. Hirst was down to just 60,000 in chips when he moved all in, and Zurr and Sekularac both called. Sekularac folded when Zurr bet on a , and the turn and river were the and . Hirst had no part of the board with his dead to an eight on the river, since Zurr had opened his own for what would be the winning pair of kings.
Sixth went to Phong Than Nguyen a few hands later, Nguyen pushed all in for not much more than Hirst had held, and he was called by three players who checked it down from there. Nguyen had , which caught nothing on the board. Foxen had the best of the rest with for the pair of treys, good enough trim the final to five.
That number went to four 12 hands later, when Sekularac busted Erick But. But got the last of chips in with , while Sekularac thought long before calling with . Sekularac's mild-underdog hand worked here, as he took the lead on the flop, then stayed there through the turn and river.
Jonathan McCann departed just three hands after But's exit. Mccann was down to just five big blinds when he got the last of his chips in with . Foxen called with a dominated , but Foxen spiked a ten on the flop and the rest of the board ran out eight-high, leaving just three player to battle.
Third place went to Foxen, who couldn't hold the lead he held through much of the final table. Foxen's stack dwindled as the three-handed action continued. Most of those chips went to Sekularac, though it was Zurr who delivered the final blow.
Event #65 drew 1,413 entrants and built a prize pool of $1,271,700. The tourney's final 212 players earned a payout.
Among those cashing in this tournament were Dylan Linde (11th), Asi Moshe (16th), Konstantin Puchkov (42nd), Vinny Pahuja (48th), Christian Harder (60th), and Chris Hunichen (89th).
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Final-Table Payouts (earned POY points in parentheses):
1st: Shai Zurr, $223,241 (191.7)
2nd: Ognjen Sekularac , $137,909 (163.3)
3rd: Alex Foxen, $98,761 (146.1)