Joe Commisso had one helluva Saturday. Not only did he win a World Series of Poker bracelet but he also took home the largest single cash prize of the 2008 WSOP to date after triumphing in the longest final table heads-up match of the year.
Commisso, 28, claimed a whopping $911,855 as the last player standing out of a field of 805 in Event #46 ($5,000 No Limit Hold ''em Six Handed). A former day trader turned poker pro, he plays mostly cash games online and this was his first year at the WSOP.
Rich Lyndaker and Commisso started as the two big stacks at the six-handed final table that included Event #38 bracelet winner Davidi Kitai. Lyndaker, a 22-year-old from Chaumont, NY, made short work of much of the final table, eliminating Kitai in 6th place and busting two more over the next 2.5 hours.
Although Lyndaker did most of the dirty work, Commisso maintained the chip lead throughout most of the final table through pre-flop aggression and a few big pots taken from Lyndaker and third place finisher, Edward Ochana.
After Ochana was eliminated in third and the heads-up match was set, Commisso was enjoying a 2:1 lead over Lyndaker and used his chip lead to control the match. Over the first hour he increased the lead to more than 4:1 before taking his first shot at knocking out Lyndaker.
Commisso made a pre-flop call with K-4 after Lyndaker moved all-in with A-7. However, the board brought no help for Commisso and Lyndaker stayed alive, though still trailing by a wide margin.
From there the two embarked on an epic heads-up match in which the lead swapped hands numerous times and Lyndaker survived eight pre-flop all-in confrontations, including four as the underdog.
The decisive pot of the heads-up match occurred more than six hours after it started, with Lyndaker holding the chip lead. From the official WSOP updates:
"Richard Lyndaker raised to 240,000. Joe Commisso made the call from the big blind. The flop came down Kd-8h-6s. Commisso checked and Lyndaker bet 300,000. Commisso announced raise and made the bet one million. Lyndaker moved all in and Commisso didn''t look too happy, but called.
Lyndaker needed his hand to hold, but that didn''t last long when the turn hit the 5d. That would do it and give Commisso the pot. The river was a meaningless 5c and Commisso doubled back up and took the chip lead."
Moments later, after 209 hands of heads-up play, Commisso finally closed the deal when he called Lyndaker's all-in raise with A-Q and watched as it held up against 9-7.
Lyndaker was drawing dead by the turn and Commisso's supporters, including online pro Dave "Raptor" Benefield and Event #44 champion Max Greenwood, rushed the stage to embrace the winner.
The heads-up match was the longest of any at a final table of the 2008 WSOP and it took Commisso nine all-in races before he finally had the last of Lyndaker's chips.
"It was ridiculous," Commisso said. "I just couldn't put him away."
But in the end, it was Commisso lucky catch that made his straight and crippled his opponent for the last time.
"I got it in bad, so I won. That's all I had to do. I should have figured that out the first 10 times when I got in ahead."
Commisso, who has only been playing poker for three years, said he was happy to win the bracelet and that the money is a huge deal for him, but he wasn't very optimistic about his future in tournament poker.
"I pretty much detest tournaments. I don't know if I ever want to play one again . . . It's like someone sucking soul out. I just want to sit in my boxer shorts and play online. I might retire on top. I got my bracelet, I might not play any tournaments ever again."
But when asked if he'll be returning for the Main Event on July 3rd, Commisso laughed and replied, "alright, you might see me at the Main Event."
For full results from Event #46, check the WSOP results page.