Dave Daneshgar is the champion of Event #52 ($1,500 No Limit Hold 'em) at the World Series of Poker, taking home his first bracelet and $625,443 in the last No Limit Hold 'em event before the Main Event kicks off on Thursday.
The 27-year-old, who describes himself as a part-time poker player, part-time commercial real-estate capital venturer, is a familiar face on the poker circuit as he's racked up more than $1.5 million in tournament earnings in the past four years, including almost $150,000 at the WSOP. Daneshgar said he's played many events at the 2008 WSOP, but despite having a good sized stack in several of them, he'd only recorded two small cashes.
Daneshgar said he normally plays an aggressive game, but his seat draw at the table meant that Cole, Rouhani, Matros and Heimiller all had position on him, causing him to play a more conservatively.
Daneshgar arrived the table with almost 1.2 million chips, good for 4th place on the leaderboard, but he immediately ran pocket kings into Heimiller's aces and was suddenly the short stack at the table.
"I think the greatest part was that I stayed composed, I didn't give up," Daneshgar said about the early blow to his chip stack.
Daneshgar doubled up in a race a few hands later, and after picking up a few more pots pre-flop he was no longer desperate to keep up with the blinds.
Daneshgar said the defining moment of the tournament came when play was eight handed. He made a raise from the button and chip leader Corwin Cole moved all-in from the small blind. Daneshgar went into the tank for a few minutes and eventually called with A-J, picking off Cole's bluff with 8-6. Daneshgar hit an ace on the flop to and doubled up through Cole to get back in contention.
"I think most people there fold," Daneshgar said. "But I went with my read and I'm here to win the tournament."
Daneshgar stayed fairly quiet after that pot, picking his spots and taking pots pre-flop to maintain his stack.
The big mover at the table was Scott Sitron, an amateur online player from Milwaukee who came to the table as one of the short stacks and moved all the way up into the chip lead.
A few quick eliminations and Daneshgar was three-handed against Heimiller and Sitron, both of whom had roughly double Daneshgar's stack.
In the opening stages of three-handed play Daneshgar got all-in with pocket jacks against Heimiller's A-10 and doubled up, closing the gap between Sitron and leaving Heimiller as the short stack.
Shortly after the three players returned from an hour-long dinner break, Heimiller was eliminated in third place and it was time for Sitron and Daneshgar to play for the bracelet.
Sitron was holding the chip lead when the match began, but Daneshgar said "most of my experience is in heads-up, so I feel very comfortable with my heads-up game."
Daneshgar began heads-up play by winning 12 of the first 15 pots and after a few back-and-forth battles had taken a decisive chip lead. The final hand came when Sitron raised before the flop and Daneshgar reraised with pocket tens. Sitron moved all-in with A-8 and Daneshgar called instantly, needing to dodge an ace for the bracelet.
The board came out 4-6-6-9-J and Sitron was eliminated in second place for a $385,974 prize. Sitron said he had a great experience at the final table and that he'll use the money to help pay off a house he recently bought.
Daneshgar is awarded $625,443 and his first WSOP bracelet.
"It feels great," Daneshgar said. "I wanted to win one of these so bad, I don't even know how to explain it."
As Daneshgar was posing for post-tournament photos, Sitron came over and asked to look at the bracelet he was so close to winning. Daneshgar obliged and after holding the bracelet for a few seconds, Sitron said sarcastically "It's not that great . . . I don't see what the big deal is."
Full payouts from Event #52 are available at the WSOP results page.