Blair Hinkle has made World Series of Poker history by winning a gold bracelet just 11 days after his brother Grant won a bracelet in Event #2 ($1,500 No Limit Hold 'em). Blair and Grant become the first siblings in the 39-year history of the WSOP to win bracelets in the same year.
Blair beat a field of 1,344 players in Event #23 ($2,000 No Limit Hold 'em) to claim the gold bracelet and $507,563.
Hinkle began the final table as one of the chip leaders, ahead of multiple bracelet winner Chris Bjorn, feared high stakes online player Dustin Dirksen, and five other players, four of whom play poker as a profession. In all, eight of the nine final table players, including Hinkle, counted themselves as professional poker players. The lone standout was Mark Brockington, a computer programmer from Edmonton, Alberta.
Hinkle has a reputation for fearless aggression, so much so that chip leader Andrew Jeffreys predicted Hinkle would be his toughest opponent before the final table even started. Hinkle got off to a fast but rough start, doubling up Bjorn twice in a matter of minutes, reviving the experienced British pro who already has three cashes and one final table at the 2008 WSOP.
Hinkle then doubled up short stacked Dominik Kulicki after getting very unlucky with A-2 vs. 6-5 on a 3-K-A-6-5 board, but got it all back on the next hand when his A-J flopped trips against Kulicki's pocket queens, eliminating the Amsterdam-based pro in seventh place.
From there Hinkle picked up the pace again, winning a series of pots and eliminating perhaps his two most dangerous opponents, Bjorn and Dirksen. Hinkle got his money in good against both players, his A-3 holding up against Bjorn's K-Q and his A-8 holding up against Dirksen's A-2, despite a 2 on the flop to make things interesting.
"The one player I was worried about the most coming into today was Dustin Dirksen and taking him out was a huge jump for me, I was able to really pick up my game after that," Hinkle said after the final table.
And pick up he did, amassing a big chip lead against his final three opponents as his rowdy supporters, including WSOP bracelet winner James Mackey and World Poker Tour champion Ryan Daut, cheered on his every move.
Hinkle's unyielding aggression lead to several big clashes with his opponents and when play was down to three handed he lost three pre-flop all-ins before things finally went his way. After Hinkle made a characteristic raise from button, Daniel O'Brien moved all-in from small blind and Hinkle elected to call. Although he was behind with pocket sixes against O'Brien's pocket eights, Hinkle had put his money in on so many occasions that it was only a matter of time before he sucked out. A six on the flop put Hinkle firmly into the lead and sent his supporters into a frenzy. The turn and river changed nothing and O'Brien, an equity trader turned poker pro, was eliminated in third place, leaving Hinkle to play heads-up against the only non-poker at the table, Mark Brockington.
Hinkle won the first seven pots of the heads-up match and on the eighth the two got all the money in before the flop. It was Brockington's ace-king (the same hand Grant Hinkle beat to claim his bracelet) against Hinkle's pocket sixes, and just as they had done minutes earlier when he was up against O'Brien, Hinkle's supporters yelled out for a six to lock up the hand. The dealer once again complied, dealing a flop of 6-A-2, causing a near riot in the Hinkle corner. Hinkle had Brockington drawing dead by the turn and the 22-year-old poker pro shook his opponent's hand before joining his crew on the rail and hugging his mother, who had been there to witness the entire final table, just as she had when Grant, 28, won Event #2.
Brockington collected $326,552 for his second place finish, while Blair Hinkle earned the winner's share of $507,563 and a gold WSOP bracelet to match his brothers'.
"[Winning the same year as Grant] means probably more than just winning it. We're setting a record together and he's the one that really got me going in poker. I'm just really happy that we could both win in the same year and do something historic. It's been a blast," Blair said.
Blair's mother Lynn was standing next to him when he was presented his bracelet and said afterwards, "I just can't even imagine. It's like being in a movie and watching a movie at the same time. And the endings are so spectacular; you think 'wow, can you really get away with writing that ending?' But they did."
The Hinkle family have two more sons but Lynn says the poker community needn't worry about them, as one is an aspiring cowboy and the other is so frugal that she doubts he would ever bet a dime.
For full results from Event #23, see the WSOP Results page.