June 11, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - Tyler Smith doesn't play poker for the glory of winning tournaments. He's nearly stopped playing them completely in favor of spending his time at cash game tables.
In what was his first tournament in nearly two years, he came out on top of a massive 3,186-entry field to win $224,344 and his first World Series of Poker bracelet in the $565 Pot-Limit Omaha re-entry event on Sunday evening at the Rio.
Smith takes his bracelet back to Biloxi, MS and can put it in his trophy case next to his WSOP Circuit ring that he won in 2008 at Harrah's New Orleans. He He defeated a field of 284 players in New Orleans for his first title, but his second WSOP-related title was much more meaningful and came in an event most people can't fathom winning.
"It feels amazing," said Smith. "You know, when you enter these things and there are so many people, it's a minefield, but they seem unwinnable to an extent. So, kind of every level that you go and you make it a little bit further. It's like a surreal experience."
It felt unwinnable to Smith on Day 1 because this is one of the bigger fields of the summer. The event was coined as the "PLOssus" by many players on social media due to its buy-in, ability to re-enter and the multiple starting flights in the event.
After surviving two days of play and over 3,100 players, the mental grind of a massive field pot-limit omaha event would wear on some players mental capacity. With hand equities running closer together than in other games, it's easy to get caught up in the many coolers and bad beats that take place in the game.
Smith's extensive experience playing the game kept him in the right
frame of mind throughout the event and from nine players down to one on
the final day.
"I guess I've just played so much PLO that I'm used to it," said Smith. "I don't really play no-limit [hold'em] at all anymore. I'm pretty much exclusively a PLO guy. I guess you just expect it. You just understand that that is part of the landscape and that is the nature of the game. Whatever happens, just kind of happens."
The nearly quarter of a million dollar score isn't going to change Smith's immediate poker plans. He isn't one to catch the tournament bug and become a regular on the tournament circuit. He's going to continue grinding cash games in Mississippi. The tournament win is just a boost to his bankroll.
"Probably not," said Smith when asked if he was going to play more tournaments now. "I don't play tournaments much anymore. I play exclusively cash [games]."
Aside from cash games, he's been working away from the table to create streams of income outside of poker. He's been investing in real estate, flipping homes and even owns a restaurant.
"You know, I've said for a long time that at some point poker is probably going to take a backseat to everything," said the 30-year-old. "And it just hasn't found its way there yet. But eventually, poker will be, not a hobby, but I don't want to rely on it completely to make an income. To support a family."
Luckily for Smith, he seems to have been doing well enough in poker that if he needs to, he'll be just fine making an income at the tables. He put on a dominating performance at the final table. He started the day near the bottom of the chip counts, coming into the final day second from the bottom in chips.
During the first two hours of play, there were several eliminations and Smith held the chip lead with five players remaining.
"Early on, I played a really interesting hand with the gentleman that was sitting next to me," said Smith. "I don't remember the stack sizes, but long story short, I turned my hand into a bluff on the river. That was a big pot where I pretty much doubled up without a showdown."
The player to his right was John Dallaire. After Dallaire folded, Smith chipped up to 1,800,000 in chips. He continued trending upwards throughout the first level of the day as Yves Kupfermunz was eliminated in ninth place and Ryan Wince was eliminated in eighth place.
Dallaire was eliminated in seventh place before Smith really made his move to the top by doubling through the start-of-day chip leader, Jessie Bryant. They got all in with Smith showing against Bryant's . Smith spiked a king on the flop to hit a set and take the lead. He turned a full house and faded the one-outer on the river to double up and take the chip lead.
"It was a huge cooler situation," said Smith about his double up through Bryant. "I just shoved and that was it. That was the turning point for the whole thing. Pretty much after that, there was a lot of ICM implications for all the players."
With an overwhelming chip lead and massive pay jumps for just a $565 buy-in, Smith was able to put pressure on the remaining players.
"Six-handed on, they were really handcuffed," said Smith. "You know, when you have a big stack in a tournament, that makes all the difference. Deep like this, I just accumulated a lot of chips that way."
Bryant was left with about a big blind coming out on the wrong end of a cold deck and was eliminated in sixth place. There were a string of double ups throughout five-handed play, many of which came at Smith's expense. But he never lost his chip lead as he won almost all of the non-showdown pots.
Smith eliminated Marek Ohnisko in fifth place when Smith flopped a full house and got all the chips in the middle against Ohnisko's nut flush draw. He then sent 2014 WSOP Asia Pacific Main Event Champion, Scott Davies to the rail in fourth place. Davies got it in good with his against Smith's , but Smith flopped a diamond flush to send Davies home just shy of his second bracelet.
Smith continued his onslaught when he eliminated Igor Sharaskin in third place and was heads-up with Jason Stockfish for all the marbles with a massive lead. Heads-up play only lasted one hand.
Smith's bested Stockfish's and in the blink of an eye, Smith was the 2017 WSOP's latest bracelet winner.
He steamrolled the final table, but Smith had nothing but praise for his opponents.
"These guys played great," said Smith. "It was a lot of fun playing with them too. It was a good group of guys."
Relive the action with the live Event 18 $565 Pot-limit Omaha updates
Final Table Results:
1st: Tyler Smith - $224,344
2nd: Jason Stockfish - $138,655
3rd: Igor Sharaskin - $102,045
4th: Scott Davies - $75,699
5th: Marek Ohnisko - $56,607
6th: Jessie Bryant - $42,673
7th: John Dallaire - $32,432
8th: Ryan Wince - $24,852
9th: Yves Kupfermunz - $19,201