LAS VEGAS (28 June 2017) – Henderson, Nevada's Brian Yoon has become the 2017 World Series of Poker's latest million-dollar winner after claiming the title in Event #47 of the WSOP, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Monster Stack.
Yoon, 27, who was born in Los Angeles, claimed the Monster Stack's first-place prize of $1,094,349 after battling his way through a 6,716-player field over four full days of play. It's the third gold bracelet for Yoon, who previously took down WSOP events in 2013 and 2014. Yoon's first bracelet win, in 2013, came in another deep-field event, the Little One for One Drop - $1,111 No-Limit Hold'em.
Yoon's nearly $1.1 million cash swelled his lifetime earnings to $2,777,523. Yoon has recorded 22 WSOP cashes, including one Circuit payday. All three of Yoon's WSOP final-table appearances have resulted in bracelet wins.
Second place went to Belarus's Ihar Soika, who earned $675,995 in just his third-ever WSOP cash. Soika dominated the early stages of the final table before Yoon jumped to the lead, courtesy of a double knockout that gave Yoon the majority of the chips in play.
Soika, a 30-year-old poker pro from Minsk, had recorded only $17,055 in WSOP earnings before his breakout performance in this year's Monster Stack tourney.
Third place went to Stanley Lee, who survived several all-in situations before being eliminated by Yoon. Lee collected $501,353 for his deep run here.
Yoon closed out the win in a straightforward manner after seizing the advantage from Soika, steadily gaining chips. However, he still needed to spike a river ten in the tourney's final hand to seal the win. Soika trailed by a 3:1 margin after Yoon had taken several smaller pots, and Soika then moved the last of his chips in with . Yoon pondered for several moments before calling with . Had Soika's ace held, the duel would have been squared, and with the board showing , that was the likely outcome. The river, though, brought the to the loud approval of Yoon's rail.
When asked to compare this win to his prior bracelet victories, Yoon said, “This one's a lot better, because, honestly, you don't expect to win one and you win one. You don't expect to win a second one and you win a second one. Then the third one... it's been a few years.”
It's been three years, to be precise, since Yoon's second bracelet win, in the 2014 WSOP's Event #35: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em 8-Handed. Yoon even went on a hiatus from poker last year, taking about nine months off to recharge his competitive spirit.
“Getting this one in 2017 feels really good, Yoon said. “It's my biggest score ever.”
Yoon acknowledged that he might have a good feel for extra-large-field tourneys, given that he's now claimed bracelet gold in two of them. “I think that the way I approach this type of tournament is really good, and I'm really well-suited for it. I think I do a lot of things, a lot little adjustments, that other people don't do.
Yoon offered his take on the key five-way hand where he knocked out both McKnight and Kolev to take the lead. “The whole final table, a lot of people were really short, and the big chip leader (Soika) was on my right. When he folded, then I was like the chip leader,” versus the rest of the table. “The small blind didn't have any chips – he had like six big blinds – and the big blind had 15. He couldn't really get it in too light here. I just put a lot of max pressure on him by shoving, and they both called.” Yoon chuckled, remembering that at that point he needed to catch his needed eight or find other help on the board. Instead, his eights held, and the complexion of the final table changed.
Day 4 of this year's Monster Stack event found 20 players still in the running for the top prize of $1,094,349. Roughly five hours of action later, Salvatore DiCarlo's bustout set that nine-player final.
Will Failla exited soon after DiCarlo when his all-in with came up short against Soika's pocket jacks. The board brought , leaving Failla on the rail.
Eighth then went to Richard Ma, who busted after running his pocket jacks into Soika's pocket aces. The board ran out ten-high, offering no real suspense as Soika again added to his lead. Soika picked up his third straight final-table knockout a short while later when his held up against Thomas Ryan's . Again, the board ran out ten-high in an elimination hand, eventually showing when complete.
Ryan's exit triggered a flurry of eliminations. Next out was 10-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Maurice Hawkins, who a few hands earlier had doubled up short stack Stanley Lee, then lost most of his remaining chips to leader Soika in a subsequent hand. Hawkins' run here ended when he shoved his last 975,000 in pre-flop with . Soika and Yuliyan Kolev came along, and Kolev folded when Soika bet on the flop. Soika showed for a pair of fives, and he locked in his fourth straight knockout when the on the turn. A meaningless river completed the hand.
Fifth place went to Kolev and fourth to Ryan McKnight in a double-knockout hand that sent Yoon into the lead. The chips went in before the flop with Yoon having both McKnight and Kolev covered. McKnight opened the best hand, , to Kolev's and Yoon's . Yoon paired his eight on the flop, and the turn and river completed the double knockout.
In a flash, the final went from three players to two. Lee had managed to climb the payout ladder with a short stack, benefiting from a several key doubles, but he moved no higher. Yoon picked up this knockout as well when his outraced Lee's on a board of .
The fast-paced final table brought an end to the Monster Stack's four-day test of skill. All told, this event drew 6,715 paid entrants. The total prize pool was $9,066,600, and 1,008 players made the money.
Numerous well-known players cashed in the Monster Stack tourney, including Scott Montgomery (18th), Joe McKeehen (26th), Paul Volpe (56th), TJ Cloutier (70th), Men Nguyen (124th), Yevgeniy Timoshenko (177th), Doug Carli (197th), Ole Schemion (206th), and Chris Tryba (216th).
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Final-Table Payouts (earned POY points in parentheses):
1st: Brian Yoon, $1,094,349 (304.4)
2nd: Ihar Soika, $675,995 (259.2)
3rd: Stanley Lee, $501,353 (234.6)