LAS VEGAS (15 June 2017) – Australia's James Obst claimed his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet Thursday evening in the 2017 WSOP's Event #26, $10,000 Razz Championship. Obst's victory was worth $265,138.
Obst clawed back from a significant deficit during heads-up play against the tournament's eventual runner-up, Eric Kurtzman. Kurtzman dominated the middle stages of the final table before momentum swung in Obst's favor. At two different stages during the duel, Kurtzman held more than three-quarters of the chips in play. Obst, though, closed with a rush over the tournament's final hour.
Kurtzman, born in London and now living in Las Vegas, earned $163,867 for his second-place finish.
David “ODB” Baker took third in this razz championship for $112,645.
Obst, 26, broke through for his first-ever bracelet win after a near miss just over a week ago. In Event #7, $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball, Obst battled to the final two but couldn't outlast that event's winner, Jesse Martin.
This triumph boosted Obst's career WSOP earnings to more than $1.55 million. The online / live star logged his 21st career WSOP cash and sixth career final table in his event.
Obst's stack surged throughout the final hour, due to a combination of good cards and aggressive play. In the final hand, the last of Kurtzman's chips went in on sixth street with both players having solid boards. Obst's up cards at that point were , while Kurtzman had . Kurtzman asked if Obst had a wheel, and Obst said "No," then showed .
Then Kurtzman rolled up his own surprise, , stating, "That's because I have all the fours."
Obst showed his final card first; the paired his hand and left him with the eight-five low. Kurtzman then peered at his own last card, a , telling Obst, "It's yours."
Obst admitted he was surprised to be ahead when the cards were turned up on sixth street. Chatting with the WSOP, he also admitted that he was still processing the bracelet win and how to react to it, especially after coming so close earlier in the series.
As for the format, he loved it, "The structure was pretty amazing, so we had so much play on the final table. When we got to heads-up with these one-hour levels, the play was a bit quicker than yesterday. I decided that, heads-up, I was basically going to play as fast as I could."
On breaking through for WSOP gold, Obst simply noted, "It was great to get a win. I've had a lot of close calls."
Then there's that Kings Casino Rozavdov Player of the Year chase. With a first, a second, a near-final table in the $10,000 Dealer's Choice 6-Max Championship, plus two more cashes, Obst will move to or near the top of the POY board. "I'm interested in trying to contend for it, but at the end of the day, I'm not going to be multi-tabling or doing anything crazy to try to get it," he noted. Which didn't mean he wasn't going to keep up the grind. Within minutes, Obst was off to late-register in another major event, the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship.
Runner-up Kurtzman almost completed his own perfect ending to one of this series' best final-table feel-good stories to date. On May 17th, he suffered a brain hemorrage and was rushed into emergency care. He spent nine days in the intensive-care unit, was cleared to play poker only a few days ago, and already has two cashes in this series.
Day 3 action in the $10,000 Razz Championship began as a battle of the haves and have-nots, Six players had deep stacks between 500,000 and 820,000 chips, led by James Obst's 818,000, while the other three held less than 300,000.
There weren't any surprises early in the day, as the short stacks were bounced first. Nick Schulman bubbled the official final table after losing most of his chips in a hand against Obst, with the last few going to Jyri Merivirta a couple of hands later. Eighth-place finisher Jack Duong departed only minutes later, all in and unable to hit a draw to an eight-low while Obst waited with a made nine.
Seventh went to Merivirta soon after, in a major four-way hand that also left Brandon Shack-Harris on fumes. Merivirta was all in with a made nine-low by fifth street, but he improved no further and watched as Shack-Harris and Andrey Zhigalov waged a raising war on the last streets. Zhigalov eventually showed to Shack-Harris's , claiming one of the largest pots to that point. Shack-Harris, down to 15,000 after the hand, soon followed Merivirta to the payout window.
Amid the string of early bustouts, Kurtzman began to climb. He was down at one point to just a few big blinds, but surged once the field was reduced to five players. Among his gains were most of Anthony Zinno's chips, with the last handful coming in a hand where Zinno started with / , moved all in there but bricked the rest of the way, while Kurtzman made a nine-low by fourth street for an unsuspenseful knockout.
Zhigalov exited next, after a short series of hands in which Baker delivered most of the damage. In Zhigalov's final hand, he was all in on third street but made only a jack-low, while Baker made a winning seven-low in a hand Kurtzman also played to the river.
Kurtzman's surge continued during three-handed action as he applied constant pressure on Obst's and Baker's dwindling stacks. Obst himself doubled up through Baker to stave off elimination, and it wa Baker whose day ended next. Baker got the last of his chips in on third with / , but Kurtzman had that bettered with / . Baker's board complete with / for a nine-seven low, but Kurtzman caught / for a seven-low and the knockout.
OTHER CASHES: Ninth-place finisher Nick Schulman returned on Day 3 but was eliminated soon after play began. Also earning a payday in this event, finishing 10th through 15th respectively, were Owais Ahmed, Stephen Chidwick, Konstantin Maslak, Don Zewin, Ted Forrest, and Roland Israelashvili.
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Final Table Payouts (earned POY points in parentheses):
1st: James Obst, $265,138 (138.3)
2nd: Eric Kurtzman, $163,867 (117.8)
3rd: David “ODB” Baker, $112,645 (104.0)