1 November 2017 (Rozvadov, Czech Republic) – Chris Ferguson won his sixth career World Series of Poker bracelet tonight, emerging victorious in the €1,650 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better event at WSOP Europe. The win puts Ferguson in rarified air in poker history – he’s now tied for ninth place on the all-time bracelet list.
"I feel great," he said after the event. "It’s kind of surreal because I wasn’t expecting to win this bracelet at all. I was just trying to sneak in, just trying to advance a little bit. And it just kind of happened. It’s the best way."
In many ways, this accomplishment seemed inevitable for Ferguson. He was already among the most accomplished players in WSOP history with five bracelets and over $6,000,000 in earnings. But his last bracelet came in 2003. Since then, he won three WSOP Circuit rings, all in Main Events with buyins of $5,000 or $10,000, but couldn’t quite find the winner’s circle in another bracelet event.
He took a well-publicized hiatus from poker, and didn’t appear at the WSOP from 2011-2015. When he returned, though, it seemed like he never missed a step. He cashed 10 times in 2016, including one final table and two other top-20 finishes. He performed even better in 2017, finishing in the money 17 times, including two final tables. In one of them, he finished runner-up to Mike Wattel. Tonight, he finished where he’d fallen short in the past, and walked away with bracelet number six and the €39,289 first-place prize.
A lot has changed since Ferguson's last WSOP victory, and a lot changed during his five-year hiatus. "I think the players are getting better and better. But I’ve always enjoyed playing against good players and I’ve always done really well against the best players. Now everybody’s a really good player, so I was kind of prepared for that."
In fact, he said the time away may have even helped his game:
"I just cleared my mind. For five years I hadn’t really thought about poker. I didn’t really miss poker. It had been a big part of my life. I had actually been planning to take a break from poker, and it turned out to be bigger than I expected. I’ve always found that when I take a break from something, and you come back to it, you come back to it with a fresh perspective, and often you’ll do better."
The tournament started yesterday with 92 entries. After Day 1, there were 18 players left, led by Dario Alioto, one of the first players ever to win a bracelet on European soil. He won it in a PLO event (high only that year), but this time he eventually finished in seventh place, missing out on the chance to win another bracelet almost exactly 10 years after his first.
When Day 2 started, it looked like the player-of-the-year race might be the main focus of the day. Ferguson currently leads, and John Racener is one of the players hot on his heels. Both made Day 2, and both made the money. At one point they were seated next to each other. But Racener missed the final table with his 10th-place finish, and Ferguson took the chance to pad his lead. In fact, he said points were on his mind more than the bracelet as the final table began. "I was trying to get a couple more points, trying to advance a little bit."
Ferguson wasn't the only player at the final table who already has WSOP jewelry in his trophy case. Rex Clinkscales won a WSOP Circuit Main Event in 2013. He nearly added his first bracelet today, but bowed out in fifth place.
But perhaps the feel-good story of the final table was Divanshu Kurana. An Indian student living in nearby Munich, Kurana was playing in his first-ever live tournament, and made it all the way to the final table.
Here are the final table payouts. Click here for full results:
1 – Chris Ferguson - €39,289
2 – Stanislav Wright - €24,283
3 – Eldert Soer - €16,607
4 – Artur Sojka - €11,693
5 – Rex Clinksacles - €8,483
6 – Divanshu Kurana - €6,347
7 – Dario Alioto - €4,902
8 – Sebastian Langrock - €3,913