When Noah Schwartz came into the theater for the final round of the World Series of Poker Europe PLO Mixed Max event, he had two words to describe the situation: deja vu.
The French term is fitting for several reasons. It was the second time this year the Floridian poker pro has been heads-up for a bracelet. Back in Vegas, Schwartz had to settle for second in the $1,500 PLO event while Josh Pollock took home the hardware. At that final table, he had a big chip lead, but it was not enough to secure the victory. While this time around felt eerily familiar, it was a little different, as he came into the finals against opponent Ludovic Lacay with a 2-1 chip disadvantage.
"I knew coming into this final match that he had a 2-1 lead, so I felt like the pressure was sort of me. I wasn't the big favorite," Schwartz said following his win.
With the pressure off, Schwartz came in with a plan to play his best and hope for the best. In the end it worked out after several near misses over the past couple of years. For Schwartz, the win is a dream come true and even after the match, felt a bit surreal.
"[The bracelet] is something that's eluded me for a very long time, so to be able to actually hold the bracelet in my hands and know that it is mine is mind-boggling," Schwartz explained. "I never envisioned...I remember growing up and seeing all these guys on TV winning bracelets and it has always been a dream of mine. To hold it and know it is mine is one of the best feelings ever."
Just three days ago, Schwartz made the semifinals of the €5,000 Mixed Max No Limit Hold'em event. In 2011, he took fourth in the event, going out in the semifinals in fourth place. He matched that result again, losing to eventual champ Darko Stojanovic. Even though he is one of the top performers in this relatively new format, he doesn't think there is any particular explanation why he seems to excel in these tournaments.
"A little bit of luck, some good table draws, I don't know. I think it boils down to poker is very streaky. When you're playing well and you're confident, things just seem to come in bunches, you know?"
While Schwartz thinks it is mostly luck and momentum that explains his Mixed Max runs, he does admit that this format, first introduced at the WSOPE a couple of years ago, does cater to an elite level of player.
"It enables you to showcase different talents. It is different on a nine-handed table, six-hand and four-handed is a lot quicker. You have to make the adjustments and I think the people that are able to make the adjustments will be successful," Schwartz said.
Luck came in bunches for Schwartz today. Even though he came in with the chip disadvantage over his French opponent Ludovic Lacay, he came out with the win, the bracelet, and a €104,580 payday. Shortly after the river card was dealt, Schwartz only had one word to describe his feelings:
Schwartz earns his first bracelet at his third career WSOP final table, while Lacay, a WSOP final tablist himself, earns €64,600 fur the runner-up finish.
This is a new format for WSOP Europe where players played nine-handed PLO on Day 1, six-handed PLO on Day 2, then moved to heads-up matches once the field got down to the final four. The tournament drew 127 players, generating a prize pool of €373,380. The top 16 players made the money. Some of the notables who cashed include Konstantin Puchkov (16th), Dan Shak (14th), Padraig Parkinson (11th), Stephen Chidwick (8th), and bracelet winners Phil Laak (7th) and Vitaly Lunkin (3rd). Another player who cashed was Matthew Ashton, who extends his lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race with his eighth cash of 2013.Here are the results from the final four of the €3,200 Pot Limit Omaha Mixed Max event:1st: Noah Schwartz - USA - €104,5802nd: Ludovic Lacay - France - €64,6003rd: Vitaly Lunkin – Russia - €34,5004th: Jyri Merivirta – Finland - €34,500