All eyes were on the defending champion in the $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split event which entered the third day of competition at the Rio in Las Vegas. It appeared that Calen McNeil, the flamboyant Canadian champion from last year, might pull of the unthinkable feat of winning back-to-back titles. However, Nicholas Kost had a different script in mind and wrote his own storybook ending.
McNeil ended up finishing fourth in a wild final table that ended at 2 am on a Friday night, in front of a packed gallery of supporters and spectators. His conqueror Kost caught a flurry of high fives as he came from behind in the chip count and managed to win his first career WSOP gold bracelet, against some formidable competition. That made the victory all the more sweet for the engineer and oil pipeline worker originally from Michigan, now living in Chicago. First place paid $283,275.
"It was a lot of fun having Calen (the defending champion) on the final table," Kost said afterward. "There was a lot of banter at the table and that made it pretty loose as far as a WSOP event goes. I was really glad to come out on top."
Kost came into a final table that not only included the defending champion, but also longtime East Coast pro Jim Bucci, who placed third. The 2004 World Champion Greg Raymer also started out at the final table, ultimately taking seventh place. The runner-up was Kal Riachura from Canada, who put up a strong fight but couldn't match Kost's advantages in the final stages of the tournament.
"I've played in about four or five events in the past," Kost said of his WSOP experience. "To come here and then win this is amazing. I really can't believe this happened to me."
Over half of the final table participants had been there before, including Raymer, McNeil, and Bucci. Another familiar face was Steve Chanthabousay, as well as Konstantin Puchkov, who cashed for the 20th time in three years.
This marked the first WSOP final table for Greg Raymer since 2009, and his seventh overall appearance.This year’s 1,032-player $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo field bested last year’s crop of 1,014 players. The prize pool came in at $1,398,600 with the top 117 players collecting a payday. Some of the notables who made the money included Allen Cunningham (97th), Robert Mizrachi (43rd), Mickey Appleman (36th), Dan Heimiller (17th), and Maria Ho (13th).Here are the final table results for the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo event:1st: Nicholas Kost - $283,2752nd: Kal Raichura - $175,3003rd: Jim Bucci - $109,6784th: Calen McNeil - $79,6085th: Alexandre Luneau - $58,7696th: Steve Chanthabouasy - $44,0557th: Greg Raymer - $33,5108th: Adam Coats - $25,832
9th: Konstantin Puchkov - $20,181