A few years ago, Justin Oliver stood at a career crossroads.

He wasn't sure which direction to go exactly.  Oliver had a secure position in his successful family business.  However, he also discovered both an intense desire and natural talent for playing poker.  And so, Oliver pursued both vocations simultaneously – working both as a jeweler and playing poker whenever he could.

On this night at the 2013 World Series of Poker, both career paths merged into one as Oliver won poker's most coveted piece of jewelry – the gold bracelet.  He took first place in the $2,500 buy-in Four-Handed No-Limit Hold'em tournament.  First place paid $309,071.  Yet, even though this was his biggest financial score to date at the poker table, all that mattered to Oliver was the beaming cylinder of gold which symbolized supreme excellence, which was strapped to his wrist for the first time.

The story of how this 37-year-old Canadian reached the pinnacle of the poker bears telling.

The Oliver name is well-known in the Toronto, Ontario area.  Justin's father (Russell) is famous for his stunts on television.  He often dresses up in elaborate costumes during his commercials while he pitches “Oliver Jewelry.”  In fact, according to Justin, his father can't walk down the street in the Toronto area without being recognized.

Oliver enjoyed working as a jeweler, but also longed to strike out on his own and do something different.  He discovered online poker several years ago and began playing.  Before long, he was not only beating the game, but also earning enough money to contemplate playing full time.  Encouraged by the safety and security of his family business and knowledge of the trade, Oliver started playing tournaments.  He cashed at the WSOP for the first time in 2011.

That said, Oliver's greatest success up to this point had been as an online player.

“In the Internet age, I've probably played more hands in the last three years than Doyle Brunson has played in his life,” Oliver said.

Now two years later, Oliver made the decision to play as many events as he could with the ambition to win a gold bracelet.  Now past the halfway mark for this year's series, Oliver's dream came true on a Sunday night at the Rio in Las Vegas, in front of his girlfriend, his dog, and someone he credited as being the most influential person to achieving success, his poker cash game coach,  Bill Hubbard.

Oliver outlasted 566 players over the course of three days and nights.  He topped a tough final table which included gold bracelet winner David Pham.  He also managed to defeat eventually second-place finisher Nick Schwarmann, overcoming a 6 to 1 chip disadvantage when starting heads-up play.

The victory is yet another grandiose victory for Canada, which now has produced a record eight gold bracelet winners at this year's series.  No other nation other than the host country has enjoyed so much success in a single year at the WSOP.  Most incredibly, Canadians aren't finished yet with 25 gold bracelet events still to play.

Following his first WSOP victory, Oliver was ecstatic.  He was so moved by the experience that he couldn't speak for some time.  Oliver also embodied extraordinary self-confidence and a positive spirit unlike anyone that's been seen yet at this WSOP.  

“I had the time of my life,” Oliver said afterward.  “Even when I was way behind in chips, I said to Nick, 'I want to spend the rest of my life at this table.'  Win or lose, it's great.  As good as I feel now for winning it, I felt even better sitting at that final table playing heads up for the bracelet.  Poker is my passion.  To play heads-up for a gold bracelet is a dream – a dream come true.”


MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – JUSTIN OLIVER

Name:  Justin Oliver
 
Current Residence:  Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
 
Birthplace:  Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
 
Age:  37
 
Marital Status:  Single
 
Children:  None
 
Occupation:  Professional Poker Player / Jeweler
 
WSOP Cashes (including this event):  5
 
First WSOP Cash (year):  2011
 
WSOP Final Table Appearances:  1
 
WSOP Wins (with this victory):  1
 
WSOP Career Earnings:  $345,868


INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION

WSOP:  How does it feel to win your first WSOP gold bracelet?
 
Moore:  It's like I'm in a daze.  It's a dream.  I don't know just what happened.  I was having a talk with a very well-known player.  I'm not going to say who it was.  We were talking about, would you rather have the money or the gold bracelet.  Right away, he said I would rather have the money, but this bracelet means everything to me.  I would rather have this bracelet than anything.  How hard I worked to accomplish this – I can't even begin to put it into words.

WSOP:  You are a big believer in the mental side of the game.  Can you tell us more?
 
Moore:  My mental game is tough, but my mental game used to be terrible.  I used to tilt.  I used to go insane.  This is a plug for Jared Tendler, who wrote “The Mental Game of Poker.”  I don't go on tilt anymore.  Throughout this entire tournament it didn't matter.  There were ups and downs.  I was short.  In this heads-up battle things weren't going right.  I never felt upset for one second.  It wasn't that I knew I was going to win it.  I was just willing to accept whatever happened.  I played my best and I knew that if I did the best I can, and then accept however the cards fell.

WSOP:  What was your impression for this first-time event, which was Four-Handed No-Limit Hold'em?
 
Moore:  This is the first time I had ever played four-max.  I looked at it on the schedule and it looked like something I wanted to try.  I realized it would be a crazy event, an insane field, talented players – casual players don't come in and play this.  So, I came in and adapted on the fly.  I'm am aggressive player.  I learned as I went and gained some experience.  I think I'll be playing this every single year from now on!

WSOP:  Did this come easy for you?  Or was it a struggle?
 
Moore:  Obviously, I had to run great to win this.  No one wins one of these without running good at some point.  I thank God, a greater power, luck, my girlfriend, my rail, my family, my dog – everyone for supporting me.

WSOP:  Anyone else out there that you would like to acknowledge?
 
Moore:  I have to call out my cash game coach, Bill Hubbard.  He's amazing.  I would not have been able to do this without him.  He got me so ready to play poker.  He's like a genius.  He's like unknown.  I shouldn't be sharing this because if everyone had him with them coaching, they'd all be good.  But I have to thank him.


ODDS AND ENDS

John Juanda cashed.  This was the 63rd in-the-money finish for his career, which ranks in a three-way tie for sixth place all-time.

Rene Angelil cashed for the third consecutive year at the WSOP.  He is the husband and manager of superstar performer Celine Dion.