What are the odds?

A 21-year-old poker pro attending the WSOP for the first year sits down in a game he knows almost nothing about.  Three days later, he collects the gold bracelet.

Seriously, what are the odds?

If you're Bryan Campanello, your odds are 100 percent.  The young poker pro and college student from the Dallas area won the $2,500 buy-in Razz tournament, which took place over three days and nights at the Rio in Las Vegas.  Campanello collected  $178,052 in prize money.  He also received his first career gold bracelet.

Remarkably, Campanello had never really played much Razz before, which is a lowball form of Seven-Card Stud.  He knew the basics of the rules.  However, he understood almost nothing about strategy.

Over the course of the three-day tournament Campanello refined his craft slowly.  He observed other players and began to catch on to what they were doing.  Admittedly, Campanello says he actually watched players he respected and managed to pick up various tactics while the tournament was going in.

After three days of nights of intense poker playing, the young poker pro was lining up for winner photos after doing what might have been unthinkable a day or two earlier--beating a field of players well-versed in a game Campanello had barely played before.

Campanello also attends college at North Texas University.  He transferred there last year after previously attending George Mason University in the Washington, DC area.  He's studying political science and hopes to work in in some sphere of government someday.  But for now, poker is paying the bills.  A lot of bills can be paid after this night.  In fact, college tuition shouldn't be a problem either from this moment forward.


Name:  Bryan Campanello
Current Residence:  Southlake, Texas (USA)
Age:  21
Marital Status:  Single
Children:  None
Profession:  Professional Poker Player
Previous Occupation:  College Student
WSOP Cashes (including this event):  2
First WSOP Cash (year):  2013
WSOP Final Table Appearances:  1
WSOP Wins (with this victory):  1


: You really seemed to have fun at the table and enjoyed yourself which is not normally associated with Razz.  Can you discuss that?  
Campanello:  Yeah. Razz is not the most exciting game in the world.  Especially for a bunch of people like me who grew up playing No-Limit Hold'em and Pot-Limit Omaha.  There is no all-in preflop where you can run equities.  All of my rail are really good friends.  I've been there to support them when they ran deep in tournaments and they came here to support me.  I felt really good. 

WSOP:  How did you win a game you say you had hardly played before?
Campanello:  I felt really confident even though I don't play Razz ever.  I have very few hands of it.  I started figuring out the game and I felt like I could learn the game as I was going along throughout the tournament.  I managed to pick up on a bunch of things.  I got lucky enough to sit with George Danzer on Day Two, who is a brilliant player.  Just watching him I was like, "that makes sense," and once those things start to click in poker you are like, "ah, so this is what I should do."  I felt like each day my game was improving tremendously.  I may have been a dog when I entered, but by the time I made the final table I felt I really understood the game of Razz.

WSOP:  Why would you enter a tournament you had not played before?  
Campanello:  I was in (another tournament) and lost a big flip after dinner.  So, after grinding for seven hours and then busting I did not want to do all those Vegas things and blow a bunch of money.  I thought I could have an edge in the Razz tournament and that I could pick some things up as I was going along and get some rust off of my Stud game.  I just didn't want to play No-Limit Hold'em anymore after busting, soI decided I would just do Razz and see where it went from there.

WSOP:  How did your experience playing on the WSOP Circuit this past season help you win this event?
Campanello:  I managed to seal the deal in Colorado and win a gold ring.  I went deep in the Main Event at Choctaw (finishing fourth) and that made me really hungry to win.  I was in school and traveling when I could, just so I could play.  Going that deep and having that confidence I could play was important.  You just can't match confidence in this game.  If you are feeling good about yourself and you trust your reads and trust what you are doing -- like making value bets and getting called lighter -- things like that can't be matched.


David Bach finished second.  Since winning his gold bracelet in 2009, Bach now has three top three finishes, but no wins.

Billy Baxter cashed.  He's the most accomplished Lowball player of all time, with seven gold bracelets in that variant of poker.  This was his 28th career Lowball cash, the most of anyone in history.

Archie Karas cashed – his first at the WSOP in four years.  Karas is one of the highest-stakes gamblers in Las Vegas history.  He nearly bankrupted Binion's Horseshoe twenty years ago when he made one of the most incredible runs ever at the tables.