Arizona grinder makes last-minute decision to enter event, scores first bracelet and $364,387
July 4, 2018 (Las Vegas, NV) - Come on, just gamble.
That’s the phrase that got Dan Matsuzuki to play the $10,000 seven-card stud hi-lo championship event. After a little convincing from a friend, the 28-year-old from Arizona hopped into the event at the start of Day 2 and went on to win the entire tournament.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, as America celebrated another birthday, the professional poker player from Scottsdale defeated 141 entries and Scott Bohlman heads-up to earn his first World Series of Poker bracelet and $364,387.
“It still hasn’t hit me really,” said Matsuzuki after his win. “I wasn’t even going to play this event. My buddy convinced me and took a little piece of me.”
It didn’t take much convincing since just four words swayed his decision.
“Come on, just gamble. Those were his exact words,” said Matusuzki.
Bohlman, who finished second for $225,210, finished just shy of his second bracelet of the summer. The Chicago area grinder picked up his 10th cash of the summer and is squarely in the hunt for the WSOP Player of the Year race.
Matsuzuki knew he had a tough match ahead of him when it was down to just the two of them.
“[I] came into the final table last in chips, so I was just trying to survive,” said Matsuzuki. “I got heads-up with Scott and I know he’s one of the better tournament players around, so I felt fortunate enough to be able to take home the victory.”
Bohlman wasn’t Matsuzuki’s only tough opponent. There were plenty of them in the field. In fact, the strength of the field was the reason that Matusuzki decided to hop in on Day 2.
“There’s a little strategy behind that,” said Matsuzuki of his decision to wait until the last possible second to collect his starting stack. “I know these guys have a little edge on me in these tournaments. They’ve got more experience and stuff, so I feel like lessening the amount of time played in the field was to my advantage.”
Matsuzuki is a bit of a stranger to tournament poker. He spends most of his time grinding out a living in the Arizona cash games. He’s a regular in all the mixed games in the area and all six of his cashes came in non-no-limit hold’em events.
For most of his career, he stayed away from tournaments. Now that he’s tasted a little bit of the glory, that might not be the case for long.
“The tournaments don’t really appeal to me too much,” said Matsuzuki. “This may change my mind, I guess.”
The third and final day kicked off on Tuesday at 2 p.m. with 15 players remaining. About five hours after getting cards in the air, they lost about half of the field and the final eight players took their seats at the final table with Bohlman holding a massive chip lead over the remaining players.
They played for over an hour before they lost a player. Joseph Michael was the first to go and busted in eighth to defending champion Chris Vitch. Michael was all in on third with three cards lower than eight against Vitch’s king-high. Vitch paired his king on fourth and Michael caught another low card.
Both players bricked fifth street and Vitch made two pair on sixth. Michael didn’t improve on sixth or seventh and busted to Vitch’s two pair.
Vitch won another pot after eliminating Michael and temporarily took the chip lead over from Bohlman.
Just before the end of the level, Bryce Yockey was eliminated in seventh by Matsuzuki. Matsuzuki and Yockey got all in on third with Yockey showing split tens against Matsuzuki’s buried queens. Matsuzuki made two pair on sixth, while Yockey never improved. He needed to make trips to stay alive but bricked the river and collected $43,833 for his finish.
The final six players took a 60-minute dinner break and upon returning, the chips continued to fly, which sent Jerry Wong home in sixth.
Just like the first two eliminations, Wong was the short stack and got all in on third. Wong held buried nines with an ace showing against Vitch’s buried fives with a six showing. Vitch made two pair right away on fourth and Wong never improved to better than nines.
The 2016 November Niner busted in sixth, while Vitch continued to ascend the chip counts.
On the very next hand, Daham Wang fell at the hands of Ken Aldridge. Wang got the last of his short stack into the middle with against Aldridge’s .
Both players made pairs on fourth with Aldridge pairing his seven and Wang hitting a queen. Wang didn’t improve on fifth or sixth, while Aldridge picked up a low draw on fifth and added a flush draw on sixth.
Wang bricked the river and Aldridge rivered two pair. Wang busted, and Aldridge chipped up, but was still on the shorter end of the spectrum.
Immediately after scoring Wang’s knockout, Aldridge shot up the chip counts, scooping multiple pots. The chips started to even out as all the players were between 1.3 million and 1.9 million with Matsuzuki taking a slight chip lead over the field.
Matsuzuki extended his lead over the course of four-handed play while Vitch steadily became the short stack. Vitch lost a key pot to Aldridge, which left him with less than a bet and was eliminated the next hand in a four-way pot.
The defending champion was out in fourth and the final three players took a break with Matusuzki out in front over Bohlman and Aldridge.
Like four-handed action, three-handed play lasted for quite a while. It took over two hours before Bohlman busted Aldridge in third. Aldridge got all his chips in the middle on fifth drawing dead for half. He was all in with ace-jack high and an eight-low draw against Bohlman’s made 6-4 low and an open-ended straight draw.
Aldridge improved to ace-king high and was still in the lead for half on sixth, but Bohlman made a straight on the river to make a seven-high straight and six-low to scoop the whole pot and eliminate Aldridge in third.
Matsuzuki started heads-up play with about a 1.5-to-1 chip lead, but that was quickly erased as they went to the final break of the night basically even in chips. Over the next level and a half, the two battled heads-up with a few changes in chip leads.
“When it comes to limit tournaments, the limits just get so high that whoever gets lucky at the right time is going to end up with the bracelet,” said Matsuzuki about the massive swings during heads-up play. “I was lucky enough to catch a couple cards on seventh street and that’s it.”
Eventually, Matsuzuki opened a 5-to-1 chip lead and then never looked back. After scooping a massive pot and left Bohlman with just more than a full big bet.
Bohlman got all in on third with against Matsuzuki’s . They both hit sevens on fourth, but Matsuzuki picked up the last two on fifth and sixth, giving him three sevens, but Bohlman made a jack-high straight on fifth, hitting a 10.
On the river, Matsuzki peeled the , giving him a full house and eliminated Bohlman in second, securing his first bracelet.
Final Table Results:
1st: Dan Matsuzuki - $364,387
2nd: Scott Bohlman - $225,210
3rd: Ken Aldridge - $154,648
4th: Chris Vitch - $108,739
5th: Daham Wang - $78,739
6th: Jerry Wong - $57,855
7th: Bryce Yockey - $43,833
8th: Joseph Michael - $34,089
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