Working-class hero Corey Thompson is the newest member of poker’s gold bracelet club.
The 27-year-old poker pro from Winter Park, Florida won the $1,000 buy-in Turbo No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which was played over a lightning-quick two days and nights and just concluded on the ESPN main stage at the Rio in Las Vegas. The turbo-structured format meant that the tournament incorporated 30-minute levels, instead of the usual hour-long duration.
Thompson collected $221,163 in prize money, making this the biggest win of his career. However, he did previously win an event last year on the Heartland Poker Tour (HPT). This was his seventh time to cash in a WSOP event. He made the victory look easy at times, seizing the chip lead and maintaining his advantage most of the way until the very end.
“It’s been a huge year,” Thompson said in a post-victory interview. “I don’t play cash games that much. I’ve been playing more tournaments. The HPT win was really huge. I really caught fire since then. I started coming out here (to the WSOP) four years ago, but mostly played just a few smaller events. This win was huge.”
The new champion won his victory by coming out on top at a final table which included a maiden group of aspiring champions. None of the top nine had previously won a gold bracelet. However, the more poker that was played, the more it became obvious that Thompson would likely end up facing Enrico Rudelitz, a German-based player who proved to be both tough and persistent, despite the escalating blinds mandated by the turbo format. The heads-up match lasted more than an hour.
“There was no doubt (Rudelitz) was the best player at the table – if not me, then definitely him,” Thompson said. “You always like to think of yourself as the best, but towards the end, I think it was him.”
Thompson and Rudelitz had battled back and forth most of Day Two as the chip leaders. Then, the deciding hand came when Thompson scooped the final pot of the tournament with an ace-high against Rudelitz, who finished as the runner up. His consolation prize amounted to $136,651.
“The heads-up match was very tough,” Thompson confessed. “When we were down to the end, we had about 20 big blinds. Variance jumped up.”
When asked who he credits most for the victory, Thompson responded immediately. “My dad taught me so much,” he said. “My dad is my hero.”
This latest tourney drew yet another big turnout. The competition attracted 1,397 entrants which created a prize pool totaling $1,257,300. The top 210 finishers collected prize money.
Aside from the winner, here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Second Place: Enrico Rudelitz, from Germany was cheered on by a lively rail which departed with mixed emotions. Rudeltiz could be proud of his showing, but he also came up just short of victory. This marked his third time to cash at the WSOP – not bad for a college student. His payout totaled $136,651.
Third Place: William Liang, a project manager from Toronto, ON (Canada) cashed for the first time ever in a WSOP and scooped up $97,811 in prize money for coming in third.
Fourth Place: Darren Terazawa, from San Ramon, CA took fourth place. This was his first time to finish in the money at the WSOP. Terazawa received a payout totaling $70,821.
Fifth Place: Ankit Ahuja, from Charlotte, NC has enjoyed a nice week, cashing twice at the series in what were his first two WSOP in-the-money finishes. After making the money in the Crazy Eights tournament, Ahuja took fifth place in this tournament, which paid out $51,878.
Sixth Place: Terry Fan, from Taipei, Taiwan cashed for the sixth time at this year’s series, and this was his deepest run. Fan received $38,452. Fan also reached six ITMs last year, including one final table. So, he’s someone to watch out for in future events given his success the past two years at the WSOP.
Seventh Place: Matthew Chang, from Rockville, MD who works as a security officer with the U.S. Department of State, locked up seventh place. Chang travels regularly on the WSOP circuit in his free time. This was his deepest run in a WSOP event in Las Vegas. Chang collected $28,842.
Eighth Place: Ryan Pochedly, from Mantua, OH came in eighth place, which paid out $21,897. Pochedly now has eight cashes at the WSOP.
Ninth Place: Benjamin Reinhart, from La Porte, IN posted his second top-ten finish of the summer with this ninth-place finish. He collected $16,827. Reinhart now has 11 cashes in WSOP play.