EVENT #57: $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em
PRIZE POOL: $2,247,300
FIRST PLACE PRIZE: $399,039
PLACES PAID: 270
DATES: June 28-30, 2015
Takahiro Nakai Wins $1K No-Limit Hold’em Victory
Osaka Poker Player Becomes Only Second Gold Bracelet Winner in WSOP History
1996 Gold Bracelet Winner Mel Weiner Finishes Second
MEET THE LATEST WSOP GOLD BRACELET CHAMPION
Name: Takahiro Nakai
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan
Current Residence: Osaka, Japan
Marital Status: Single
Profession: High-Tech Specialist
Number of WSOP Cashes: 2
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 1
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories: 1
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 493rd (2015)
Total WSOP Earnings: $400,039
Personal Facts: Nakai is the second winner in WSOP history from Japan
[Note: All statistics above include the results of this tournament]
Takahiro Nakai, from Osaka, is the latest gold bracelet winner at the 2015 World Series of Poker. He became only the second citizen of Japan to win poker’s most prestigious prize in the 46-year-history of the tournament.
Nakai topped a huge field of 2,497 players and achieved the greatest victory of his poker career, winning the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament. This was the 57th of 68 gold bracelet events played this summer at the WSOP in Las Vegas.
The big field created a large prize pool, amounting to $2,947,300. The top 270 players collected a payout, with Nakai taking the lion’s share of the cash prize, which was $399,039 for first place. This was also his first gold bracelet win. In fact, this marked the first year Nakai had attended the WSOP. He played on one other event this year, cashing in the Darftkings 50-50 (493rd place).
Nakai, age 36, was joined by about a dozen other Japanese poker players and friends, who cheered his victory from the rail. Nakai noted that he first discovered poker online and has been playing for a number of years on his computer. He decided to come to the WSOP for the first time and ended up achieving a surprising victory.
Japan has now produced two WSOP champions. The first was Naoya Kihara, who accomplished that historic breakthrough back in 2012.
The competition was originally scheduled for three days, but was extended into overtime when that wasn’t sufficient time to determine the winner. A highly-volatile final table contributed to adding a fourth day, which featured the heads-up conclusion to the event between Nakai and Mel Weiner, a previous gold bracelet winner from New York City.
When heads-up play began on Day Three, Takahiro enjoyed about a 3 to 2 chip advantage over Wiener, who was hoping for a second gold bracelet victory, 19 years after his first win which was back in 1996 at Binion’s Horseshoe.
The wildest hand between the finalists took place near when Nakai was dealt 3-3 versus Weiner, who was dealt A-A. Takahiro had his opponent covered and was up by about 2 to 1 in chips at the time. However, a 3 on the flop made it appear that Takahiro would win right then and there in dramatic fashion. However, Weiner hit a two-outer ace on the turn, to reverse the tables and seize the chip lead for the first time.
Then, on the final hand at the end of Day Three, Nakai got all those chips back and more, when he scooped a huge pot with A-Q versus Weiner’s A-8 suited. Nakai was all in and Weiner had a nut flush draw, but missed. Nakai ended up winning the critical hand with top pair (queens). That ended play until the following day when Makai held about a 9 to 1 chip advantage.
The final hand was played out under markedly different circumstances the following afternoon when players shifted from the cavernous ESPN stage to a secondary table, where Nakai dusted off Weiner in quick fashion, winning the final hand of the tournament with Q-7 versus A-J. Even though Kakai began with the worst hand, he flopped a queen for top pair, which held up. That gave the Japanese player the final pot of the tournament, and the victory.
Following Nakai’s finish in the top spot, the descending order of results was as follows:
Second Place: Mel Weiner, the longtime poker enthusiast from New York City finished as the runner up. He earned $248,034 in prize money. The 1996 gold bracelet winner (No-Limit Hold’em) is 73-years-old. He works in real estate.
Third Place: Paul Vas Nunes, from Guildford, UK finished in 3rd place, which paid $175,559. This marked his sixth time to cash at the WSOP. It was also his second time to come in 3rd. He finished in the same spot back in 2012 in another No-Limit Hold’em event. Vas Nunes is a 25-year-old professional poker player.
Fourth Place: Glenn Lafaye, from Ridgefield, CT finished in 4th place, which paid $126,612. This was his third cash at the series and best finish, to date. He is a 41-year-old professional poker player.
Fifth Place: Jonas Lauck, from Primstal, Germany, finished in 5th place, which paid $92,453. This was his seventh time to cash in a WSOP event, and second final table appearance, after coming in 2nd last year in the Ante-Only NLHE competition. He is a 27-year-old student.
Sixth Place: Robert Piltz, from Schwerin, Germany finished in 6th place, which paid $68,317. This was his first tome to cash at the WSOP. Piltz works in marketing.
Seventh Place: David Martinez Cano, from Madrid, Spain finished in 7th place, which paid $51,103. This marked his second time to finish in-the-money at the series. He is a 27-year-old student.
Eighth Place: Frederico Dabu, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil finished in 8th place, which paid $38,676. This was his third time to cash and first occasion since 2010 to make a trip to the payout window. He is a businessman who also has a home in Florida.
Ninth Place: Barry Schultz, from Cordova, TN rounded out the final table as the 9th place finisher, which paid $26,610. This was his second final table appearance and fifth cash at the series. Schultz also won a WSOP Circuit gold ring in Tunica back in 2009. He is a dean of a university, who holds a PhD in statistics.
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS:
Former gold bracelet winning players who cashed included – Matt Waxman (27th), Leo Wolpert (44th), Chris Dombrowski (55th), Men “the Master: Nguyen (59th), Okeksii Kavalchuk (66th), Matthew Elsby (75th), Rep Porter (94th), Andre Akkari (100th), Martin Jacobson (111th), Calvin Anderson (156th), Konstantin Puchkov (184th), and Sean Getzwiller (244th).
Martin Jacobson, who finished 111th, is the defending world poker champion. This marked his second time to cash since winning last year’s Main Event Championship.
Jennifer Shahade, the former two-time Ladies Chess Champion, cashed in this event.
Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler cashed in this event, which marks his seventh in-the-money finish at the 2015 series, so far.