The Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball tournament was a throwback to the days when poker tables were full of interesting stories and lots of drama.Consider the heads-up finale between Eli Elezra and Daniel Negreanu and what happened on the final dramatic hand.Elezra had a “made” hand, which meant he was confident with his cards and his chances of winning. However, Negreanu – who was all-in by the time the final draw was taken – had about a 50-50 shot to hitting the right card which would have extended the duel futher into the late night hour.Negreanu did what's called a “squeeze.” Peeling up the corner of the final card, while hundreds of spectators stood and watched, and poker fans all over held their collective breaths, Negreanu had somewhat sweating his moment of high drama.Elezra, a longtime friend of Negreanu from countless mutual appearances on televised high-stakes poker shows and tournaments around the world, went to the other side of the table and put his arm around Negreanu. Together, the rivals bent over and gazed at the final card.Negreanu bricked, giving Elezra the victory. It might have seemed like an odd moment having two competitors said by side, and this would have been highly unusual for anyone else to seem like he was cheering for his opponent. But these were not your typical players and this was not your usual tournament.Indeed, the $2,500 Deuce-to-Seven event attracted a crème of the crop lineup of many of the world's most accomplished players, which isn't to say these were all of the best players in an era dominated by No-Limit Hold'em. But the star-power of 282 who entered this three-day tournament was pretty much a royal court of the game.That was manifested in the money list and final table of the tournament, which was stacked with big names. In addition to Elezra and Negreanu, five-time gold bracelet winner made the finals, along with David 'ODB” Baker and Scott Seiver. Elezra collected $173,236 in prize money, certianly not his biggest cash win. However, winning a second career gold bracelet made this moment a defining moment in the exciting life that belongs to Eli Elezra.The 52-year-old poker pro was born in Jeruselum, Israel. He served in the Israeli Army. In fact, as a wounded lieutenant recovering from a leg injury, he began playing poker. He eventually immigrated to the United States and settled down in Las Vegas. The rest, as they say – is history.Elezra has won more than $2 million in live tournaments, and far more than that amount in high-stakes cash games, where he is a regular fixture – not only on television but in local poker rooms in Las Vegas. He's consistently known as one of poker's most popular players, for his outgoing personality, natural charm, and defusing smile which often camoflouges what an extraordinary all-around poker player Elezra has become.Elezra now owns two gold bracelets. His first win took place in 2008 in the $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split Eight-or-Better event.As for Negreanu, who finished second, he barely missed out winning what would have been gold bracelet number six. Instead, he could take some consolation in jumping back into the WSOP “Player of the Year” lead versus a pack of talented players on his heels. With the WSOP Main Event still to come, along with the entirety of WSOP-Europe, this year's race should be just as thrilling as what happened on the Main Stage tonight at the 2013 WSOP.
MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – ELI ELEZRA
Name: Eli Elezra
Current Residence: Henderson, NV (USA)
Birthplace: Jerusalem (Israel)
Marital Status: Married
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
Speciality: High-Stakes Cash Games
WSOP Cashes (including this event): 32
First WSOP Cash (year): 1999
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 8
WSOP Wins (with this victory): 2
WSOP Career Earnings: $907,443INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION
WSOP: How does it feel to win your second WSOP gold bracelet?
Elezra: It took a long time to get back here – about five years to win my second one. I played 17 events this year, so this was really beautiful.
WSOP: How was this final table different from some others that you've played?
Elezra: It was almost playing like a high-stakes cash game. I had played with everyone one of them, except one guy. We had all played together many times. I do feel bad for Daniel (Negreanu). He is one of the best. He is one of the best friends of mine.
WSOP: You are known to have some action on the side. Was there any action on this side this time?
Elezra: Back when I won my first bracelet, the win was for like $220,000. But I won a million dollars from the side bets that I made. I bet against all the right players that they would not win a bracelet, and then I got 10 to 1 on me winning one. But this time, I did not have any side bets.
WSOP: Can you discuss how poker is changed between the time you won your first bracelet in 2008 vesus today?
Elezra: I used to like to play a lot of No-Limit events. But it seems the old-school style that we used to play is not catching on so much....what is bad is seeing these players with the big glasses and the headphones and every time they have to make a decision they take like 3 to 5 minutes. Every decision cannot take that long, you know. That is really hurting the game.
WSOP: Did you think you had an advantage in this game over the others?
Elezra: Out of the 60 gold bracelet events on the schedule, a third of them are games that I play daily – I mean games that I play cash all the time. The WSOP is catching up to what we are doing in the big games. I like that we have like 20 of these other events, rather than No-Limit, you know.
WSOP: Give us an example of how poker is different today than years ago when you entered the game?
Elezra: In the old days it used to be raise-re-raise-all-in. Now, it's raise-re-raise-re-raise-re-raise-re-raise-re-raise-re-raise.
WSOP: Tell is why you chose this life when you could have been doing other things?
Elezra: I love poker. I love the people. That's why I love the game. I like to talk to the people, tease the people, and enjoy the game. That's the way it should be. Like I did with Daniel (sweating his last card). Some people would not like that. But that's part of it, for me.
WSOP: Can you reflect again on what this second victory means?
Elezra: This second one means a lot. I mean, I do not have five or six bracelets like some of the rest to them, but for me this means a lot. I have been playing poker professionally for twenty years now, so this is what it's about.