After three years of making a final table only to be unable to come out on top, John Phan can now call himself a bracelet winner – even if he doesn’t want to. Early Wednesday morning Phan took down Event #29 ($3,000 No Limit Hold’em) to pocket $434,789 and despite the party-like atmosphere at the final table, Phan downplayed the importance of the bracelet.
“This bracelet is nice, but it’s not all that,” said Phan afterwards. “The Main Event bracelet I wouldn’t do this.”
“This” refers to Phan encouraging his last opponent to flip a coin for the bracelet. Heads-up play had gone on for over six hours when Phan decided he was willing to gamble blind for the bracelet. Both Phan and runner-up Johnny Neckar agreed to go all-in before the flop without seeing their whole cards. The players followed through with that plan for the next four hands with neither player able to eliminate the other.
“I love to gamble. Being a poker player is tough, you don’t win tournaments if you’re not a true gambler,” explained Phan. “Sometimes you have to take risks like that. I love to gamble, that’s in my blood.”
With the crowd in a frenzied state, thanks to the action on the felt and the 20 Corona’s Phan had ordered, the two players finally agreed to play it out. It only took another few hands before Phan and Neckar were all-in, this time legitimately. From the official WSOP coverage:
“John Phan raised from the button making it 200,000 to go before Johnny Neckar announced he was all in. Phan made the call. Phan: Ah-9s Neckar: Qd-Jd Phan held the chip lead and the best hand as the flop was dealt: Kc-7s-8d. There was no help for Neckar as the turn landed 4s. Needing a queen or jack on the river, Phan watched as the familiar As fell on the river to the roar of the rail as John Phan wins his first WSOP bracelet! Congratulations to Johnny Neckar who put up a fierce showing in this heads-up battle as he collects $277,452 for his efforts.”
After ten hours of play Phan had emerged with the win from a final table that included Neckar, David Singer, Alex Bolotin, Matt Vengrin and Tony Dunst. For complete payouts from Event #29 visit the WSOP Results page.