He may not be a household name, but Alex "Diesel" Bolotin is a familiar face at the WSOP with several close calls, a notable charity event victory, and a long list of cashes dating back to 2007.  Now his face will be all over the Rio even when he isn't grinding at the tables though, as he won his first gold bracelet and almost $260,000 in the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em Shootout event.
 
Bolotin realizes why his name isn't always at the forefront of people's minds when it comes to top No Limit players.  "The reason I flew under the radar is because I had a lot of final tables, but I didn't have a lot of wins. Nothing feels sweeter in tournament poker than winning a tournament," Bolotin explained following his win, which brings his career WSOP earnings to more than $1.3 million.
 
The money pales in comparison to the win for Bolotin though.  Back in 2007, Bolotin was heads-up against Bill Edler in the $5,000 Six-Handed event, but settled for second place and a career-high score of more than $500,000. Even though it was a big payday, it doesn't come close to how Bolotin feels today.
 
"I won double the money for second place and I was throwing my glasses against the wall. It wasn't a happy day. Finishing second hurts. This feels much, much better," he said with a smile.  "It feels euphoric, actually. So many close calls and that's what we come here for every summer--to win the gold. It is kind of a stamp on a long career, it feels sweet."

Bolotin was already number one on the Belarussian all-time money list, but this cements his status as the most productive poker player ever to hail from the European country. This marked his seventh career WSOP final table appearance. He also won the charity Ante Up for Africa tournament at the Rio back in 2009.  Even though he lives in New York and has more most of his life, Bolotin nonetheless takes a lot of pride in representing his homeland.

"It's my homeland, so it does matter a lot to me. I've been living in the US more than two-thirds of my life, so now I feel more American than Belarussian, but I am happy to be the number one player from Belarus."
 
So, on Tuesday, Bolotin will return to the Rio to receive his bracelet and the recognition that comes with it while the Belarussian anthem plays, cementing Boltin's status both in his homeland and in the poker world.

This year’s $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout drew 948 players for three rounds of poker action. On Day 1, players lined up at eight and inne-handed tables with 112 advancing into the money and the second round. The second round had 12 tables with the winners of each table advancing to the third and final round of play. The players began at two six-handed tables, then combined to an unofficial final table once they got down to ten players.

The final 12 players included two bracelet winners, Shawn Busse, who exited in eighth place, and Josh Arieh, who looked to be in great shape to make a run in the final round after busting, Busse, seventh place finisher David Trager, and sixth place finisher Douglas Foster. Arieh amassed a big stack along with Dimitar Danchev, but got it all-in holding a flopped set of tens to Bolotin’s overpair of aces only to have Bolotin spike an ace on the turn to take a good chunk of Arieh’s stack. The bracelet winner exited in fourth a few hands later.

There were several notables who advanced into Round 2 and the money, including bracelet winner Josh Pollock (119th), Allen Kessler (106th), Greg Merson (99th), Jason DeWitt (89th), Mike Matusow (77th), Joseph Cheong (67th), David “Bakes” Baker (45th), Chris Tryba (30th), and Shannon Shorr (27th).

Here are the final table results for the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout:

1st: Alex Bolotin - $259,211
2nd: Dimitar Danchev - $160,410
3rd: Jon Lane- $100,239
4th: Josh Arieh - $72,846
5th: Steven Loube - $53,777
6th: Douglas Foster - $40,314
7th: David Trager - $30,664
8th: Shawn Busse - $23,638
9th: Maxx Coleman - $18,468