The climactic conclusion of the latest WSOP APAC event was a battle of Australian poker legends.
One player with five bracelets already on their mantelpiece, and keen for more, going up against a comrade who has been hankering to get their hands on the gold since it eluded him twice back in 1997 and then again in both 2003 and 2008.
There was never any doubt that Jeff Lisandro and Jason Gray were both hungry to win the $1,650 Pot Limit Omaha event in their home country.
In the end, the hunger, and the right cards, would see Lisandro win his sixth gold bracelet - another justification for why he is arguably the most successful Australian poker player in the history of the game and certainly the only Aussie to dominate the WSOP to the extent that it would be tough to fit all those bracelets on his wrist.
“Every bracelet win has put me right on the edge,” Lisandro said after his landmark victory.
This result puts Lisandro in the top ten all-time most WSOP gold bracelets, tying with fellow stalwarts of the game Jay Heimowitz, T.J Cloutier, Layne Flack, Daniel Negreanu and Ted Forrest.
When it was mentioned to Lisandro that this was Gray’s fifth WSOP final table without winning the bracelet, Lisandro replied as only a true grinder could.
“He really wanted to win,” Lisandro quipped. “Of course, I would have been happy for him if he won his first bracelet, but I made, I think, ten final tables before I won a bracelet!”
Watch the final table in its entirety.
With this win, Lisandro also now joins the rare triple-threat club of having won a bracelet in Vegas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The only other player to have managed that is none other than Daniel Negreanu.
This tournament was the first event outside the No Limit Hold’em variety at the 2014 WSOP APAC and one of two Pot Limit Omaha events that will be held over the series at Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia.
The $1,650 buy-in tournament attracted a field of 123 runners, which created a total prize pool of $184,500. It was the top 16 players who would share a slice of that cash and Day 1 would see 22 survive, meaning there would be a few unhappy players on Day 2.
WSOP gold bracelet winner and Australian poker veteran Gary Benson was the chip leader at the end of Day 1 and would manage to burst into the money and eventually make it onto the final table with some very familiar friends in fellow Australian Poker Hall of Fame members Jason Gray and five-time bracelet winner Jeff Lisandro.
The plan on Day 2 was to stop when the eight-handed official final table was set, but the play was so furious and the players got there so quick that it was decided to play down to six.
Australia’s Oliver Gill (8th) and the UK’s Stephen Woodhead (7th) were the two players who added a WSOP final table to their records, though ultimately fell short of being able to play under the bright lights of the final day of action.
The final six was split in half. There were three Australian Poker Hall of Famers going up against Zane Ly, Paul Sharbanee and Paul Mac. The two latter players are relatively inexperienced when it comes to the big stage, while Ly was here just a few days ago as he finished 6th in the $1,100 Accumulator event.
It would take just 15 minutes at the final table for Mac, Sharbanee and Benson to hit the rail in that order. Benson picked up $16,563 for this result, which is just a small amount added to his more than $1.8 million in career tournament results. This was Benson’s third WSOP final table appearance and first outside of the stud variety.
Following Benson’s elimination, Ly would once again fall short of the definitive victory, but with two WSOP APAC final tables in just three days, Ly puts himself in good stead to continue a big few weeks.
The chip counts were close to even when the heads-up battle began between the two old hands of Australian poker in Lisandro and Gray. It was always going to be a fiercely fought battle as the two players clearly wanted nothing more than to stop their compadre from winning a bracelet.
The chips were shared around the table for just under two hours before the final hand of the day would see Rossiter overcome Gray to win his monumental sixth gold bracelet. Gray got his cards in good with two pair on the flop, but Lisandro had a flush draw and a straight draw and ending up hitting a wheel on the river to seal the deal.
Here are the final table results from the $1,650 buy-in Pot Limit Omaha:
1st: Jeff Lisandro - $51,660
2nd: Jason Gray - $31,931
3rd: Zane Ly - $22,771
4th: Gary Benson - $16,563
5th: Paul Sharbanee - $12,282
6th: Paul Mac - $9,282
7th: Stephen Woodhead - $7,146
8th: Oliver Gill - $5,603