The defining moment of the $1,500 buy-in Ante-Only No-Limit Hold'em took place on ESPN's Main Stage, late at night when play was down to the final two players.

Ben Volpe was playing Paul Lieu heads-up for the bracelet.  He was one card away from winning a gold bracelet.  Lieu had only two outs, which meant Volpe's victory seemed just moments away.


Lieu caught a miracle card, leaving Volpe devastated.  While Lieu celebrated wildly after surviving, Vope marched over the rail, whispered a few words to his rail or supporters and came back preparing to resume battle.

“It was devastating.  I couldn't believe it happened,” Volpe said afterward.  "But seeing the bracelet just sitting there (displayed on the table) gave me no time to dwell on the beat.  I still had plenty of chips and fought back.”

Looking back in a post-tournament interview, Volpe agreed this was a decisive moment.

“So many things were going through my mind.  It was like – look how unlucky I am,”  Volpe recalled.  “But then after a moment I didn't want that to by my excuse.  It's okay, because I did get it in good and lost of the river.  I was also shocked when I got back to the table and saw how many chips I had left.  That really inspired me.”

After another 45 minutes, the match was over.  Volpe managed to scratch and claw his way back from the near dead, ultimately winning his first gold bracelet.

Volpe managed to triumph in a field of 678 participants – no small feat for a relatively new tournament that debuted on the WSOP schedule in Europe just three years ago.  He collected $201,399 in prize money, plus his first career gold bracelet.

Volpe, who is 26, works as a CPA in Chicago.  He grew up in the northern suburbs of the city.  Volpe noted that he likes maintaining the balance between a steady job with relative stability with the highly-speculative vocation of tournament poker.  That said, Volpe hopes to play more poker over the next few months and travel to Australia in order to see if he can make the transition to playing full time.

He's certainly in a great spot where he currently works.

“My firm lets me take off the entire summer to come out to the WSOP,” Volpe said.  “I've done that the last three summers.  They let me pursue the hobby that I love and it appears to have worked out.”

No matter what happens from this point forward, he'll always have one two things – a fond memory and a WSOP gold bracelet.


Name:  Ben Volpe
Current Residence:  Chicago, IL (USA)
Birthplace:  Skokie, IL (USA)
Age:  26
Marital Status:  Single
Children:  None
Occupation:  Certified Public Accountant
Other:  Semi-Professional Poker Player (aspiring pro)
Education:  Emory University (Atlanta) with a degree in accounting and finance
WSOP Cashes (including this event):  8
First WSOP Cash (year):  2011
WSOP Final Table Appearances:  2
WSOP Wins (with this victory):  1
WSOP Career Earnings:  $387,195
Note:  Ben Volpe is no relation to poker pro Paul Volpe


WSOP:  How does it feel to win your first WSOP gold bracelet?
Volpe:  I feel amazing.  I really can't explain it.  I'd be lying if I said I only play the game for the money.  This is so huge.  It's the most prestigious thing in poker and it feels incredible to win it.

WSOP:  What were you feeling after you lose those horrible beat, when you had your opponent outchipped holding pocket queens against pocket fours, and he rivered a four?
Volpe:  I could not believe it when it came out.  I was surprized by how many chips I had left.  When you come this close and see the gold bracelet on the table, you quickly forget about the beat, because I really wanted that bracelet.  I just kept fighting.

WSOP:  Did you play the Ante Only event for any particular reason?
Volpe:  I played it because it was the next No-Limit tournament on the schedule.  I loved it.  It was awesome.  It's the same No-Limit we all know, but it really is a different game with no blinds.  You have to always count your stack in relation to what's going on and try to learned on the fly.  It was a lot of fun.

WSOP:  Accounting and poker are very different jobs.  How do you explain being good at both?
Volpe:  It was tough because I just wanted to play poker, but I realize that it's difficult to achieve success in poker and to sustain it.  My job may not always be the most exciting, but the flexibility that goes with it, I can't ask for anything more.  So, thanks to everyone back home that I work with.  I love them.  This is awesome.

WSOP:  Any final words looking back now?
Volpe:  I'm glad my queens got cracked.  I'll remember this moment the rest of my life.  I'm so glad it went down this way.