LAS VEGAS (24 June 2017) – Israel's Ben Baruch Maya has claimed victory on Satuday in the 2017 World Series of Poker's Event #43, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout.
Maya triumphed after three days of action at the Rio Convention Center in Las Vegas, defeating 1,024 other entrants.
For Maya, a 34-year-old family man, from Rehovot, Israel, the triumph was an exceptional first-ever WSOP cash. Maya's run to a bracelet -- also his first -- was worth $257,764.
Maya, who works in real estate, sealed the victory by closing out Belgium's Thomas Boivin during heads-up play. Boivin's runner-up performance here was, likewise, the largest payday of his WSOP career. Boivin's second-place payday of $159,273 bumped his own lifetime WSOP earnings, spanning 10 career cashes, to $262,418.
Bay Area-player Tim West placed third in this event for $115,297. West, a two-time WSOP Circuit ring-winner, jumped over the million-dollar mark in career WSOP earnings with this cash.
Maya and Boivin played 52 hands heads up before the collision that decided the tourney. Boivin limped from the button, Maya raised, and Boivin re-reraised all in with . Maya, though, called quickly with his , and the suspense was over quickly when the flop gave Maya a set. A turn and river wrapped up the event's action.
Maya's win was unexpected by almost everyone, including him. "Actually," he started, "I don't play tournaments at all. I played one tournament this year. Tournaments are so exhausting for me. I play tournaments so many hours -- I get so tired." Maya expressed some relief that he got through his Day 1 shootout in five hours, though he wasn't sure he'd make it all the way through, despite that early, short day.
Then there was the hand against Robert Kuhn, early in the day, when Maya called Kunh's all-in on the turn for most of his own stack. Kuhn had a set of fours, while Maya had fives and fours, but the river was Maya's two-out five to bust Kuhn and send Maya to the top of the counts.
"I had a feeling from the first day... I had a picture of me taking the bracelet, but I didn't believe in myself. I don't know why; I'm not such a good player, that I can tell you. After I won the second day, I knew it, that's it," he said, then believing he was going to win the event.
The ouster of Brazil's Matas Dilpsas in 10th place set the offical nine-player final table early in Saturday's finale, with Maya and Foutty gaining chips early on. Next to fall was PokerGo streaming commentator Jonathan Little, who doubled his short stack once but was unable to climb higher. Little moved his last chips in with and was called by Tim West, who trailed with . West spiked his ace on the flop and stayed ahead as the and completed the board.
A short-stacked Paul Michaelis exited in eighth place soon after, when his couldn't overtake West's in a battle of the blinds. Michaelis, the only former bracelet winner in this final, caught a glimmer of hope on the turn as the board ran out , but his needed eight never materialized.
Joe Cook and Steve Foutty fell next, in a three-way all-in hand also including Boivin. Boivin's held up against Foutty's and Cook's . The pot pushed Boivin into the lead, narrowly ahead of Maya, as the field was trimmed to five.
One of the more accomplished players at this final table, Alex Rocha, took fifth. Rocha moved all in for his last 900,000 chips with , and he was called by Maya, who showed . Maya rivered the ace for the knockout as the board ran out . This was Rocha's 50th overall cash in WSOP-affiliated tournaments (20 WSOP, 3 WSOP-Europe, and 27 in WSOP Circuit events.
Thailand's Phachara Wongwichit climbed to fourth place, but no higher. Wongwichit busted after he re-raised Boivin on the turn of the final's 50th hand, with the board showing . Wongwichit had checked the flop with A-5, having two pair; that modest deuce, though, gave Boivin a set, and he quickly called. The river wasn't one of Wongwichit's four outs, and he headed to the rail.
That left, Maya, Boivin and West, and after the fast early pace, another 78 hands passed before West was bounced in third. West shoved all in for his last 1,235 with , and Maya thought long before calling with . The runout again favored Maya, giving him tens up and leaving only Boivin in his path.
Matas Dilpsas (10th), Robert Kuhn (11th) and Ross Ward (12th) survived this event's first two shootout rounds, but were eliminated early on Day 3 to just miss the official final table. Among the 108 other players who won their first shootout round to make the money in Event #43 were Chris Moorman, Martin Staszko, Jonathan Tamayo, Andrew Brokos, Kevin MacPhee, Kyle Cartwright, Carlos Mortensen, Taylor Paur, John Phan, Russell Thomas, and Chris Bell.
Event #45's 1,025 entrants combined to build a prize pool of $1,383,750. 120 players won at least their Day 1 shootout, thus locking in a cash in this event.
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Final Table Payouts (earned POY points in parentheses):
1st: Ben Baruch Maya, $257,764 (188.0)
2nd: Thomas Boivin, $159,273 (160.1)
3rd: Tim West, $115,297 (143.8)