GAUTENG, SOUTH AFRICA – Event #2, $560 buy-in, No-Limit Hold’em Six Handed concluded in the early morning hours Friday with a local pro, Jason Straus taking away first prize money, worth $25,979 and the coveted WSOP Circuit gold ring.
Straus is a 35-year-old former actuary from Johannesburg. For his win in WSOP Africa Event #2, he collected $25,979. Strauss has made a number of previous final tables, including two All-Africa final tables and a final table in the inaugural WSOP Africa Main Event.
189 players turned out for the second of six events scheduled for the second annual World Series of Poker Africa, a strong showing for a mid-week start, $560 buy-in event. The opening event, which also started mid-week, drew 324 players, the most for a live tournament in African history.
Like many other sectors of this emerging economy, poker is growing by leaps and bounds with event #2 indicative of the strength of this dedicated local poker community.
Players such as 2007 WSOP Main Event finalist Raymond Rahme (the first African in history to make a WSOP Main Event final table) and reigning WSOP Africa Main Event champion, Warren Zackey have long served as ambassadors of the game in their home country, however if this year’s WSOP Africa is any indication, you can expect to see a number of budding South African poker pros added to that list such as the winner of event #1 and 2012 Aussie Millions Heads up champion, Gregory Ronaldson, and also perhaps after a strong showing here in event #2, Jason Straus.
After a long day one, 47 players returned for day two play, and just after midnight, were down to the final six.
Much of the final table played out in quick fashion and after a few hours, it was down to Straus and David Crookes, both of Johannesburg.
Although deals are not recognized by the World Series of Poker, it must be reported that with near-even stacks, the final two players had a discussion amongst themselves during a pause in the action, resulting in only the coveted WSOP Circuit Gold Ring being left up for grabs.
The expected result from such an arrangement would be a short but sweet heads up matchup, but as a testament to the pride and competitiveness of South African poker players, heads up play would go on for six hours.
Like Scotty Nguyen said in his address to the players just before the opening event, “This is it, alright baby? Play for the ring baby, and the money comes with it.”
Heads up action was calculated and deliberate with few hands going to the river. In two critical all-in hands, each player found two-outers on the river to double back up and even up the stacks. The final hand of the tournament developed just before 7am local time with both players all-in after the river with two pair, but after tabling their cards, Straus’ two pair would earn him the final pot and the ring.
“[Crooks] was a very tough opponent, picking good spots and keeping the pots small,” said Straus after the win.
“This is a great feeling, winning such a prestigious tournament. It’s unbelievable, really… unbelievable.”
David Cornell was the first to be eliminated from the final table stage. Cornell is a local amateur player who picked up his first major tournament in-the-money finish here in this event. He pocketed $4,139 for his two-day effort.
Online pro, Wayne Monks was eliminated in fourth place. Although the most experienced player among the final nine, he fell short of his championship ring goal and had to settle for a fourth place finish, worth $8,061.
A short while later, the smallest of the remaining three stacks, Steven Brown saw his way to the payout table where he picked up $11,340 for third place.
For his runner-up finish, Crookes pocketed $16,048. Crookes is a 27-year-old economist and amateur cash game player. He states that his poker ambition is to continue progressing as a poker player and to build his poker reputation here in the local community.
Both men agree with the consensus of the hundreds of their fellow players that WSOP Africa has been the most organized, well-run poker tournament to take place on the continent.
“This was a very well-run tournament, the best I’ve played in,” said Straus after the win. “Bringing the prestige of the WSOP here to the Emerald has been very good for poker here in South Africa and I really hope that it continues.”
Still to come are 4 events. See the complete WSOP Africa schedule and previous results here. WSOP Africa runs through February 27th. You can find the complete 2010/2011 WSOP CIRCUIT SCHEDULE here.
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About the WSOP
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world awarding millions of dollars in prize money and the prestigious gold bracelet, globally recognized as the sport's top prize. Featuring a comprehensive slate of tournaments in every major poker variation, the WSOP is poker's longest running tournament in the world, dating back to 1970. In 2010, the event attracted 72,966 entrants from 117 different countries to the Rio in Las Vegas and awarded over $187 million in prize money. In addition, the WSOP has formed groundbreaking alliances in broadcasting, digital media and corporate sponsorships, while successfully expanding the brand internationally with the advent in 2007 of the World Series of Poker Europe. The WSOP Circuit Tour is entering its seventh season in 2010-11, and will feature 12 stops throughout the U.S., plus for the first ever, a stop in South Africa. For more information on the World Series of Poker, please visit www.WSOP.com.