LAS VEGAS (22 June 2017) – Ernest "Ernie" Bohn has defeated William Kohler to win the title in Event #40 of the 2017 World Series of Poker, $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better.
The win, worth $173,228, wasn't just Bohn's first WSOP gold bracelet and event cash, it was the culmination of only his fourth-ever WSOP tournament. However, for Bohn, 68, from Whiting, New Jersey, it's far from his first exposure to competitive glory. Bohn is a retired harness-racing owner and driver, and he's also the uncle of professional bowling Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III.
Bohn defeated Cincinnati's William Kohler after a friendly and spirited heads-up duel, that strecthed long into the morning hours. Kohler, a seven-card stud hi-lo specialist, also took second in this same event back in 2009. Kohler's runner-up effort here was worth $107,063.
Hal Rotholz, from New York, New York, finished third and earned $74,200.
Bohn gained ground against Kohler repeatedly during heads-up play, only to have Kohler battle back to near even, time and again. In the end, though, Kohler ran out of comebacks. Down to his last few big bets, Kohler ended up all in with / . Bohn showed / . Kohler received the on sixth, while Bohn hit the to lock in a low. Kohler needed something on seventh to make a high, and the gave him a pair. Bohn checked his own board before peeking at his last card, openly rooting for a four. Then he flipped up the , shouting, "It's a four! Yes!" with a whoop.
Bohn, Kohler and third-place finisher Rotholz were the last survivors of a final table that initially featured plenty of established firepower in Ted Forrest (six bracelets), Max Pescatori (four), and Justin Bonomo (one, with $3.9 million in career WSOP earnings). On this day, though, the lesser-accomplished players carried the day, capped off by Bohn's stunning win.
Bohn said, "I made up my mind -- I play a lot of hi-lo tournaments -- that I'm going to play cautious, I'm not going to chase, and I'll play the best hands possible. It worked."
The retired Navy serviceman admitted to playing in a home game every other Friday night. "But it's so much different playing a tournament like this," he said. Referring to those home games, he added, "Playing for a half and a dollar, that's not much of a pot by the end of the night."
Bohn stayed conservative throughout much of the final table's action, picking his spots and building his stack as the night wore on. "I wanted them to battle it out against each other. I threw away some good hands... I'd say a lot of good hands. But they raised each other, and I just said, 'Let me back off and let them fight it out.'"
Bohn didn't have too much fear for his more famous tablemates, though he did mention Michael Mizrachi, who was at one of Bohn's Day 2 tables. "I was worried about him because he was really rolling, and then he rolled a little too much and he got knocked out."
As for his nephew, the PBA and USBC bowler, will this win give Uncle Ernie bragging rights for a while? "It sure is, it sure is," Bohn acknowledged, also noting that he'd just missed a chance to get together with nephew Parker, who just departed Vegas on Saturday after being in the city for a major bowling event. Bohn did have all-night support at the rail, however, from his friends Charlie (also a pro bowler) and Carol, who rooted Bohn on for the win.
Sixteen players returned for Thursday's final day of action in Event #40, led by Ted Forrest, but four hours later, as the event closed toward its final table, it was Forrest on the short stack. The six-time bracelet winner survived numerous all-ins, chopping or scooping some 21 times according to tablemate Shannon Petluck, and Forrest indeed survived into the final eight. Instead it was Italy's Walter Treccarichi whose cards ran dry just short of the official final table, finishing in ninth.
Forrest's short-stack odyssey then ended, when he got the last of his chips in on fifth street, holding / , against Rotholz. Rotholz had a better high at that point, with / , and Forrest blanked on sixth and seventh streets – the and – to finish eighth.
Next to fall was California's Petluck, whose last chips went into the pot in a three-way hand against Justin Bonomo and Bohn. Petluck was all in on the first betting round, and by the end of the hand had showing, for no low possible; Bonomo, with 3-6-5-2 showing, eventually turned up three kings. Bohn made an eight-low to split the pot while Petluck went to the rail.
Sixth-place money went to Italy's Max Pescatori, who fell short here in a try for his own fifth WSOP bracelet. Pescatori returned from the dinner break to a stack of one big bet, and he was all in on fourth street with showing. Bonomo and Kohler checked down the pot from there, and Kohler scooped the pot and KO'd Pescatori when he rivered a six-low to go with a pair of tens already showing on his board.
Bonomo, the third prior bracelet winner at this final table, was the next to depart. He was all in in his last hand with showing on sixth with Bohn and Kohler also still in the hand. One street later, Kohler announced a straight and Bohn had that bettered with a diamond flush, while Bonomo mucked. The $37,441 payday left Bonomo less than $10,000 short of the $4 million mark in career earnings.
Tim Finne soon followed Bonomo to the rail, the last of his own chips disappearing when he had an open two pair – kings and fours – in a hand against Rotholz. Rotholz was freerolling, though, having made a low with an open-ended straight draw, and his last card, the , made an eight-high straight.
That left Bohn, Rotholz, and Kohler to battle, with Bohn having more than half the chips as three-way action began. Rotholz fought hard but eventually exited via back-to-back scoops by Kohler. In thee first hand Kohler hooked a needed four for a seven-high straight, which also made a winning low. In the next hand, with Rotholz all in for his last 70,000, Kohler made trip sixes on fifth and snared an ace for a six-low on seventh. Rotholz mustered two middle pairs, shook hands and headed to the payout window.
A total of 595 players took part in this $1,500 stud hi-lo event, creating a prize pool of $1,128,000, with 90 players cashing.
Numerus well-known players earned a cash in Event #40, including Don Zewin (10th), Steve Jelinek (11th), David Sklansky (13th), Tony Ma (17th), Joe Hachem (21st), John Cernuto (22nd), Chris Bjorin (24th), Ryan Hughes (27th), Mike Leah (33rd), Phillip Hui (35th), Randy Ohel (39th), Allen Kessler (39th), and Jeff Madsen (40th).
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Final Table Payouts (earned POY points in parentheses):
1st: Ernie Bohn, $173,228 (164.7)
2nd: William Kohler, $107,063 (140.3)
3rd: Hal Rotholz, $74,200 (124.1)