California web developer Jeff Smith needed several hours to crack the code of his heads-up opponent Danny Nguyen, but after a contentious bout that lasted a couple of hours, the 26 year old eventually prevailed over fellow Californian Nguyen in the Event 9 $1,000 No Limit Hold'em event to win his first bracelet and over $320,000.
While most of the final table flew by, as the field played from 12 players to four in less than two hours, the head-sup match went so long that the final two eventually ended up taking a dinner break, which proved to be a turning point for the eventual winner.
"Losing that big hand right before the break...I kind of just cooled off. I never really get that heated when I play poker, but I had some time to cool off and had some time to think about it. I came back with a little different mindset," Smith explained. While it was a lengthy heads-up battle with several reversals of fortune for both Nguyen and Smith, the lone downside to this winner story is that his friends weren't able to make it to his rail until 20 minutes or so after play ended. Even though the chips were put away and the winner photos had been taken though, the group nonetheless burst into a rousing round of claps and cheers for their friends career-high score.
It was certainly an unexpected end to a long weekend that started out as a bachelor party with buddies. He came to Vegas to hang out with them, missing a repeat run in the Millionaire Maker event. Come Sunday though, Smith was ready to get down to business, signing up for the $1,000 event. A part time poker player since 2006, Smith takes time off from developing a variety of websites to play and will be back in action later this summer for the Monster Stack event.
In the meantime though, he has $323,000 burning a hole in his pocket. When asked how that money might be put to use, Smith suggested a trip to Hawaii might be in the cards.
This is the first win and first WSOP final table for Smith, who has tried is hand in several WSOP events, including last year's Millionaire Maker, where he cashed in 605th place. Needless to say, Smith easily exceeded the amount of that cash, not to mention collected poker's most coveted piece of jewelry, the bracelet. He also became the only player this year besides Casino Employees winner Roland Reparejo who was not a professional poker player. While Smith finds time to play, he spends his time as a web developer, while poker remains a profitable hobby.
The final table featured two players making repeat appearances to the WSOP final table. Brad Libson (7th) and Chris Hunichen (6th) were returning to the final table, but failed to emerge victorious with the bracelet.This $1,000 event came one day after the record-setting Millionaire Maker tournament. The event drew 1,940 players, generating a prize pool of $1,746,000. The top 198 players made the money, including Christian Harder (161st), Shannon Shorr (145th), recent bracelet winner Kyle Cartwright (125th), Dominik Nitsche (119th), Mitch Schock (67th), Faraz Jaka (47th), November Niner Bob Bounahra (17th), Rene Angelil (13th), and Vinny Pahuja (12th).Here are the final table results for the $1,000 No Limit Hold'em Event 9:1st: Jeff Smith - $323,1252nd: Danny Nguyen - $199,8293rd: Frank Patti - $138,1604th: Nathel Fontana - $99,6445th: Chris Huago - $72,8436th: Chris Hunichen - $53,9517th: Brad Libson - $40,4898th: David Inselberg - $30,7819th: Jorge Vergara - $23,693