When the final day of the WSOPE High Roller Event began, many people wondered if Mike Watson would even make the money. The short stack of the nine players returning for Day 3 action, it was uncertain if Watson would even make the money, let alone vie for the title. Even Watson had his doubts.

“I just figured I would probably bubble and go home in a rage,” Watson admitted.

Now he is the WSOPE High Roller Champion and the proud winner of €1,000,000.

The road to victory was not easy for Watson. He began the day ninth in chips on one of the biggest money bubbles of the year. Bubble play went on for over an hour without an elimination. During that time, Watson struggled to chip up, but it was Winfred Yu who was the player left on the outside looking in, busting in ninth place.

Once the bubble burst, Watson started to chip up against some stiff competition. While he was picking up chips, his opponents were hitting the rail. David Benefield and Steve O’Dwyer exited early in the day, followed by Finnish pro Jani Sointula and Tobias Reinkemeier.

Philipp Gruissem’s demise in this event is what propelled Watson to the top of the counts. First Watson doubled thru Gruissem, then he knocked him out in fourth place after being on the right side of a coinflip.

Watson began three-handed play with the lead over Asian businessman Richard Yong and start of day chip leader John Juanda, but Yong made a strong push and emerged as the big stack. Watson took a big chunk out of Yong’s stack though when his    spiked a jack against Yong’s    to double through him. Juanda doubled thru Yong a few orbits later, then Yong exited in third place, leaving Juanda and Watson heads-up and evenly stacked.

The tete-a-tete battle for the title was short-lived. Watson once again found himself all-in and behind holding    to Juanda’s   . Once again though, Watson found the jack he needed to double up and take a massive lead. A few hands later, they were all-in again. Juanda’s    couldn’t catch Watson’s    and, just like that, the short stack to start the day emerged as the first-ever WSOPE High Roller Champion.

“It is one of the most incredible days of poker I have ever played,” Watson said in the minutes following his victory. “Winning every single all-in, yeah, it feels incredible.”

The mild-mannered 28 year-old Canadian pro admitted he was a little “sheepish” about getting lucky more than once over the course of the final table, but he is thrilled about the victory regardless of how the hands played out.

In addition to singling out German pros Gruissem and Reinkemeier as tough competition, Watson also gave props to Yong. “Richard played fantastic. He played really solid and when we got short-handed, he proved he could be really tricky.”

Juanda was no easy heads-up opponent either. The poker pro and five-time gold bracelet winner ended both Day 1 and Day 2 as chip leader after a rough start to the tournament that resulted in him rebuying twice. While Juanda made profit on his €150,000 investment, Watson was the one to take home the seven-figure payday.

Watson triumphed over a surprisingly large field of 49 top tier players. With 11 rebuys added to the prize pool, it made for a first place payday only slightly smaller than the WSOPE Main Event. The event is not a bracelet event, but Watson will certainly have some bragging rights considering the tough field, his impressive comeback, and the prestige that comes with these WSOP-sponsored High Roller Events.

Here are the results from the final table of the €50,000 High Roller Event:

1st: Mike Watson - €1,000,000
2nd: John Juanda - €600,000
3rd: Richard Yong - €400,000
4th: Philipp Gruissem - €275,000
5th: Tobias Reinkemeier - €200,000
6th: Jani Sointula - €160,000
7th: Steve O’Dwyer - €130,000
8th: David Benefield - €115,000

Photo by Jonathan Boncek for PokerNews/WSOP