Steven Wolansky, a 26-year-old professional poker player from Cooper City, Florida, won the most recent tournament at the 2014 World Series of Poker.  The Cleveland-born tournament specialist topped a tough field in the $1,500 buy-in Deuce-to-Seven event, defeating 241 players en route to a $89,483 payday and his first gold bracelet.

The win was particularly satisfying to Wolansky, given the bitter disappointment of what happened to him last year at the WSOP, when he enjoyed a huge chip lead in the $2,500 buy-in Eight-Game Mix event, but ended up losing to Canadian Michael Malm.  At one point late in the tournament, Wolansky was up nearly 30 to 1 in chips before disaster struck and he ended up finishing just short of what would have been his first gold bracelet victory.

“I held a massive chip lead the last time I was in this spot, and couldn’t close it out then,” Wolansky said in a post-victory interview.  “I couldn’t sleep after that happened, being that close.  I’d go back and look at the coverage and see myself with 2.8 million in chips and him with 100,000 all in.  I still wonder, ‘how didn’t I win that?’  But this definitely helps that feeling.”

Wolansky may have waited longer than he wanted, but he finally got to the winner’s circle in what ended up as a much quicker victory than many were expecting.  The final table clocked in at just two hours, one of the shortest finales in a long while.  “I got a great string of hands at the end and was lucky to win it,” Wolansky said.

Joseph Cheong, best known as the third-place finisher in the 2010 WSOP Main Event, finished as the runner-up.  Both players, eager for their first win, were very close in chips during heads-up play.  Cheong began to pull away and took a 3 to 2 chip lead at one point.  However, Wolansky finished with a flurry in the final 15 minutes of the tournament, winning the victory on a 9-low to Cheung’s 10-low, ending the feeling of despair.

The runner-up, Cheong, hails from La Mirada, CA and has more than $5 million in career WSOP earnings in 18 cashes.  He was certainly within grasp of the gold bracelet, but will have to wait until another day. This was his fifth career WSOP final table appearance.

Wolansky’s adult life has been entirely devoted to playing poker.  He’s played full-time since graduating from high school, concentrating most of his time and energy in cardrooms in South Florida.  He usually plays several tournaments a week and attends most of the major poker events in Florida.  However, Wolansky admitted he had little past experience playing Deuce-to-Seven Lowball.

“I only have experience from playing micro-stakes online,” Wolansky admitted.  “I played it a little last year in the Ten-Game Mix.  I cashed in that event, which meant I got maybe 30 hands of [Deuce-to-Seven].  Then, on Day One this year I got 15 more hours of practice leading up to the final table and you sort of figure out as you go.  It’s a pure form of poker.  It’s poker at its purest.”

This marks Wolansky’s fifth time to cash at the WSOP.  The win puts him at nearly a quarter-million in earnings here in Las Vegas.
 
This event drew 241 players and produced a $325,350 prize pool.  The top 28 finishers made the money.  Some of the notable players who cashed include John Racener (21st), Eli Elezra (19th), Phil Hellmuth (18th), Brian Rast (16th), and Ali Eslami (11th).

One newcomer in particular deserves special mention, since this tournament was played at the same time as soccer's World Cup.  Third-place finisher Max Kruse played for the German National Team as recently as earlier this year and was scheduled to participate in the festivities going on in Brazil.  However, he was replaced at the last minute and instead decided to compete on a different kind of green field, here in Las Vegas.  This was Kruse's first career WSOP cash.

Here are the final table results for the $1,500 No Limit 2-7 Single Draw event:

1st: Steven Wolansky - $89,483
2nd: Joseph Cheong - $55,309
3rd: Max Kruse - $36,494
4th: Chris Mecklin - $24,908
5th: Orjan Skommo - $17,445
6th: Samuel Touil - $12,529
7th: Scott Bohlman - $9,223