Martin Kläser won Event #43 ($1,500 Pot Limit Omaha Eight-or-better) at the World Series of Poker on Thursday, becoming the third German and the first 21-year-old to win a bracelet at the 2008 WSOP.
The former science student became eligible for the WSOP when he turned 21 in April and had played only three events before landing poker's most coveted prize.
The big story coming into the day was Erik Seidel, who started the day second in chips and was trying for his ninth WSOP bracelet, an accomplishment that would tie him with Johnny Moss and move him closer to his landmark 10th.
However, Seidel never gained traction at the final table and was eliminated in 4th place by wine consultant-turned-investor Casey Kastle, who holds the distinction of being in the top 10 in career cashes on the World Poker Tour with 14.
Kastle bet enough to force Seidel all-in with A-K-K-5 and Seidel called with A-10-4-3. Kastle made a full house on the river and Seidel missed his low when the board ran out Q-7-4-K-Q rainbow.
With Seidel off the table, Kläser said he felt like the tournament was his for the taking.
"I was very afraid of Erik Seidel," Kläser said. "He was definitely the best player at the table."
Conversely, ESPN360.com's Howard David asked Seidel who at the final table he was most worried about and the tournament legend picked Kläser, whom he had previously met at a tournament in Germany.
Three handed play kicked off between Kläser, Kastle and Michael Fetter, a 45-year-old Californian at his first WSOP. Kläser soon put Fetter all-in before the flop and eliminated him in third when his A-Q-7-2 beat out Fetter's A-Q-9-10 on a 6-7-7-10-Q board. Kläser celebrated enthusiastically after knocking off Fetter, which struck the audience as odd considering the pot wasn't make-or-break for Kläser and he already knocked off two opponents without any wild celebration.
When asked later why he was so excited, Kläser said "when I knocked [Fetter] out, I knew I was going to win."
Kläser completely controlled the heads-up match, winning 15 of 20 hands and joking that he had x-ray sunglasses after giving Kastle a walk and being shown a particularly good Omaha Eight-or-better hand.
Kastle finally moved all-in on a J-9-9 flop and Kläser called with A-3-Q-Q. Kastle needed to improve with J-10-3-2, but the turn was a queen to give Kläser the full house and the pot, knocking off Kastle in second place and sending the 21-year-old champion into a wild celebration with his rail-side supporters.
Kläser wins $216,249 and his first World Series of Poker bracelet, while runner-up Kastle gets $137,985 in his first WSOP final table effort.
"It's so awesome," Kläser said of the gold bracelet. "That's what I dreamed of every day . . . and now I have it."
Kläser adds the bracelet and the cash to a young career that already included over $600,000 in earnings, most of which came after he defeated thousands of players in an online tournament en route to live heads-up matches against Gus Hansen and Chris Ferguson, both of which he won.
For the full list of money finishers in Event #43, check out the WSOP Results page.