The most exciting final hand so far of the 2013 World Series of Poker took place at the conclusion of Event 17, the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament which played out at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Athanasios Polychronopoulos, a previous gold bracelet winner was heads-up against Manuel Mutke, a German player aiming for his first win.Mutke absolutely loved his spot. The two players were somewhat close in chips and Mutke had his opponent totally dominated, holding ace-jack versus Polychronopoulos' queen-jack. Both players flopped a jack, but Mutke enjoyed a substantial lead holding his ace kicker. The turn was no help to either player, leaving Polychronopoulos drawing to just three outs – one of the scarcely remaining queens.And here's where the story really gets interesting.Let's go back in time. About an hour before, Polychronopoulos was at the final table discussing his favorite card in the deck. Why this conversation took place is anyone's guess. That's what makes it so surreal.Anyway, Polychronopoulos replied that his favorite card was the queen of clubs.Now, fast forward to that final fateful hand where Polychronopoulos needed to catch a miracle card. Guess what card fell hit the felt on the river?Bingo!Minutes later, Polychronopoulos was clutching that same queen of clubs in his fist, which was wrapped with a second gold bracelet. The golden cylinder clanked against the spoils of two years ago, when Polychronopoulos won a nearly identical event. Last time, he topped a field of 2,700. This time, the number was about 2,100.Athanasios Polychronopoulos is a 29-year-old professional poker player from Amagansett, NY. He was born in Southampton, NY to Greek parents. In fact, Polychronopoulos’ family owns a Greek restaurant.Polychronopoulos began playing poker seriously in 2003. He played online poker primarily, up until the events of April 2011, called “Black Friday.” Polychronopoulos has won approximately $2 million playing online poker tournaments. This marked the fourth year Polychronopoulos has attended the WSOP.First place paid a whopping $518,755. This figure comes two years after he won $650,223 in the previous victory. He now owns two gold bracelets.No doubt, Manuel Mutke could have just as easily been the champion. His consolation prize amounted to $322,909 for second place. He came close to becoming the 15th German player in history to win a gold bracelet.
MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – ATHANASIOS POLYCHRONOPOULOS
Name: Athanasios Polychronopoulos
Current Residence: Amagansett, NY (USA)
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Professional Poker Player
WSOP Cashes (including this event): 8
First WSOP Cash (year): 2011
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 3
WSOP Wins (with this victory): 2
Total WSOP Earnings: $1,275,765INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION
WSOP: How are you feeling right now, after winning gold bracelet number two?
Polychronopoulos: I'm blessed. I'm really blessed. I run good. There's not much else to say really.
WSOP: Where is your first gold bracelet that you won in 2011?
Polychronopoulos: I carry it around. It makes me happy when I look at it. When I feeld down I look at it and I think how good I have it, how much I love my family, and how lucky I am. It's like, 'oh – I won!' And now, I won another? It's too much.
WSOP: So you wear the bracelet very often?
Polychronopoulos: I never wear it. I just keep in my bag to look at sometimes.
WSOP: Can you talk about the last hand where you won with the dog hand – Q-J against A-J?
Polychronopoulos: I had played a lot with him (Mutke) the last few days and thought he wanted to set the tone as being aggressive. And I wanted to be aggressive, too. On the last hand, his three-bet sizing was a little big. I was worried that he might actually have a hand, but I also thought he was trying to be a bit aggressive and was trying to set the tone early on (in heads-up). I had queen-jack. It's heads-up poker. So, it's about aggression, and some luck.
WSOP: Can you talk about the final table, which had some big names?
Polychronopoulos: I thought everyone at the final table played really well. It was very aggressive. That was part of the reason why I four-bet jammed with queen-jack, because everyone had been so aggressive.
WSOP: You won more than half-a-million dollars. How does that feel?
Polychronopoulos: Money is important. Everybody knows that. Money is money. But I have my health. I am blessed to have money as well. It doesn't affect my play at all. If it does affect me, then I have no business playing for this much money. I would play the same if I have two dollars in my pocket or two million.
WSOP: Do you think the second wins gives you more validation as a player?
Polychronopoulos: I feel like I have a solid game. I feel like I am a good player. So winning the second makes me feel really good, but it doesn't define a player. A lot of people can get lucky. I don't think winning two bracelets makes me a better player than I was last week, you know? I know many players who are better than I am and they don't even have one bracelet.
WSOP: Which of your two victories means more?
Polychronopoulos: I think the first one meant more. Because it's like a dream come true. They are both great, equally amazing. But that first win was a little more magical.
ODDS AND ENDSBarry Greenstein's cash in this event was the 59th of his career. This places him into a tie for ninth place all time.Matt Matros cashed in this event, finishing in 27th place. He's the only player to win WSOP gold bracelet the last three consecutive years.