Limit Hold'em Shootout Championship Location:
Rio, Las VegasBuy-in:
$1,500Number of Entries:
450Total Prize Money:
Mark Seif lives his life in the fast lane. The former defense attorney-turned-poker pro once made a living defending the most nefarious members of society. Quick to point out that our Constitution guarantees all citizens the right to a fair trial and the best legal representation possible, Seif parlayed his love for the law into a thriving private practice. Seif was so good at his job that he turned down cases that could have been exceedingly lucrative.
As successful as Seif was in his legal career, his courtroom triumphs came at a price. Seif found his profession unfulfilling. He needed something more. "I used to love trying cases in court," Seif explained. "But what I didn't like was doing all the hours of preparation. I eventually discovered that what I liked most about the law was the competition. So that made me gravitate towards playing poker."
Eager to satisfy those competitive instincts, Seif started playing poker during his spare time, mostly in cardrooms scattered around Los Angeles. Once Seif discovered a new game with a different battleground, he became increasingly fascinated with poker's subtle nuances. He started playing in tournaments and became convinced that he could make a decent living at the game. It might not have been quite as profitable as working as a high-profile LA-based defense attorney, but in poker Seif found something that was both personally rewarding and more fun.
Stark decisions require vindication. The notion that anyone would make such a drastic career change voluntarily can only be proven right by doing something even more extraordinary. One means of vindication is winning a gold bracelet at the World Series of Poker. At 4:15 in the morning at the Rio Pavilion, Mark Seif's personal and professional detour was validated. After years of coming to the world's most prestigious poker tournament and later flying away in disappointment, Seif finally snapped on poker's most coveted piece of jewelry.
Seif's victory came in Event #15. The Limit Shootout championship requires different skills than are required for standard poker tournaments. In a shootout, the goal is to outlast all the players at your table, in much the same way a single-table satellite is played. The player who wins his/her respective table moves on to play in the next shootout round, until the final table takes place and the champion is determined. Each time a new shootout begins, all players start with the same number of chips. So, "early" chip leaders are insignificant in the grand scheme of shootout strategy. Surviving, outlasting, and ultimately winning are the goals.
The total prize pool amounted to $621,000. The final table included the defending champion for this event, tournament pro Kathy Liebert - who won her first and only gold bracelet last year in the shootout event. All players began with an equal number of chips when play began. Players were eliminated as follows:
9th Place: MJ Martin, $12,420
MJ Martin failed to win a pot of any significance during his disappointing session in the finale. He was all-in on his final hand with J-8 after the flop came 9=7=6 but ended up losing to Robert Mizrachi's pair of sevens. Martin, from the Hawaiian island of Maui, has appeared at several final tables at various tournaments. But this was his first WSOP in-the-money finish.
8th Place: Sam Siharath, $18,630
Sam Siharath went out a short time later. He took a terrible beat when he flopped a set of aces, but ended up losing to Mark Seif's straight. Siharath is a Thai-born Canadian now living in Toronto.
7th Place: Kathy Liebert, $24,840
For the next four hours, seven players remained. Aram Zerounian established a formidable chip lead. He scooped up over half of the chips in play during a monster rush. Finally, nearing midnight, the defending champion busted out. Getting low on chips, Liebert went in with A-3, which was dominated by Williams Shaw's A-8. Both players flopped an ace, but Shaw had the better kicker, and Liebert was booted off the final table in 7th place.
6th Place: Aram Zerounian, $28,255
Incredibly, Aram Zerounian was the next player to go out. Just as he went on an early rush, the card avalanche stopped and Zerounian went all-in with A-K on his final hand. Alex Borteh's pocket sevens held up, which meant a shockingly disappointing 6th-place finish for the electronics manufacturing executive from Southern California. Zerounian was playing in his first WSOP ever.
5th Place: Quinn Do, $34,460
Quinn Do, a Vietnamese-born restaurant owner who now lives in Seattle, went through several ups and downs at the final table. When low on chips, he desperately tried to double up with 2-2 which was topped by Alex Borteh's 10-9 when the final board showed 8-7-4-9-6.
4th Place: Robert Mizrachi, $40,465
Robert Mizrachi, a 26-year-old real estate investor and poker player, hung on for 10 hours before finally busting out. The winner of last year's Master Classic in Amsterdam arrived at the final table hoping to earn his first WSOP victory. Mizrachi went out with pocket eights against Mark Seif's A-J (a jack flopped).
3rd Place: Alex Borteh, $46,885
Another hour passed. Then another. As the final table entered its 13th hour, fatigue on the players' faces became the most obvious tell. Smiles and casual conversation were replaced by blank stares and silence. Finally, Alex Borteh, a 22-year-old poker professional from Columbus, OH, went out when he ran cold during a half-hour spell, during which his marginal chip stack shrunk to the felt.
Runner up: William Shaw, $93,770
When heads-up play began, both players were locked into a dead heat. Bill Shaw had a 337,000 to 336,000 chip lead. But that disappeared over a 30-minute span during which Seif appeared to get a good rush of cards. With Seif holding a 2-to-1 chip lead, he was dealt K-Q and made a straight when the final board showed A-J-2-10-7. That hand ended the tournament, as what remained of a standing-room-only crowd rushed to the stage to congratulate the latest WSOP winner.
The runner-up was William Shaw, age 53, who worked as a musician before turning to poker playing. Shaw once played drums with legendary rock band The Rolling Stones and blues great John Lee Hooker.
1st Place: Mark Seif, $181,330
Mark Seif is a 37-year-old resident of Incline Village, NV - adjacent to Lake Tahoe. Prior to this victory, Seif had cashed or won at nearly every major tournament in the country. His tournament resume lacked only one significant detail, which was completed on this night.
"I've had the monkey on my back the last few years here at the World Series," Seif admitted afterward. "I am really, really happy to finally get it off and win one of these."
When asked about the excruciating amount of time it took to accomplish the win, Seif gave the victory some perspective: "It took 14 long hours for me to win this event playing against a lot of very good players. I don't care if it took me 24 or 34 hours - I was prepared to do it. I've waited 10 years for this."
View final results.
Tournament reporting by Nolan Dalla / worldseriesofpoker.com