EVENT #38: $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em
PRIZE POOL: $2,699,970
FIRST PLACE PRIZE: $546,843
PLACES PAID: 117
Thiago Nishijima Achieves His Poker Goooooooaaaaaaallllllll
Brazilian Poker Pro Wins Wildest Final Table of the 2015 WSOP in $3K NLHE Event
Sao Paolo Man Becomes Third Brazilian WSOP Gold Bracelet Winner in History
MEET THE LATEST WSOP GOLD BRACELET CHAMPION
Name: Thiago Nishijima
Birthplace: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Current Residence: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Marital Status: Engaged
Profession: Professional Poker Player
Number of WSOP Cashes: 17
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 3
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories: 1
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 3rd Place (2010)
Total WSOP Earnings: $1,060,481
Personal Facts: Nishijima becomes the third Brazilian gold bracelet winner in history, following Alexandre Gomes (2008) and Andre Akkari (2011)
[Note: All statistics above include the results of this tournament]
Thiago Nishijima, from Sao Paolo, Brazil, is the latest gold bracelet winner at the 2015 World Series of Poker. However, he had a little extra help from his friends.
The Brazilian national won the $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which drew a stacked field of 989 entrants. From the $2,699,970 prize pool, Nishijima collected the lion’s share of the huge pot -- which amounted $546,843. This marked not only the biggest payday of his career, but the pinnacle of his accomplishments in the game of poker.
“This is the happiest day of my life, no doubt,” an ecstatic Nishijima said afterward, as he was continually swarmed by dozens of friends and supporters who rushed onto the stage in a giant embrace of hugs and tears. “Having all of them with me here and thousands back in Brazil who were watching on online was like having the whole country behind me.”
Given the tough lineup and generous structures favorable to players, it was no surprise that this tournament originally scheduled for three days extended into overtime as a fourth day was added. Five players from the original final table of nine players returned to the Rio Las Vegas on a Sunday afternoon to compete for a gold bracelet and the title, which was won by Nishijimain amidst whirlwind of big hands and unpredictable momentum shifts that lasted nearly four hours.
Six different nations were represented among the final nine – including Austria, Brazil, England, Greece, Taiwan, and the United States (with four players). Arguably, the biggest name among the finalists was Jesse Sylvia, best known as the runner-up in the 2012 WSOP Main Event Championship. Sylvia came close mighty once again to a first career gold bracelet victory, but fell short by finishing in third place.
Having a Brazilian player at the final table certainly added to the festive atmosphere. Dozens of Brazilian supporters, waving national flags and singing songs, made the ESPN Main Stage closely resemble a World Cup match, and Nishijima didn’t disappointment them in achieving his poker gooooooooaaaaaaaaallllllllll.
“This is truly the dream of every poker player in the world,” Nishijima said. “I have to thank all of the Brazilians….having them all here makes a big difference. With my confidence, with wanting to play good, and not wanting to let them down. I know they helped me to win today.”
Indeed, the crowd nearly overwhelmed the action taking place at the table. So enthusiastic was the audience of perhaps 100 South Americans that part of the stage flooring began to sag from the strain of supporting such a huge mob. All the players at the final table took the noisy merriment in stride, as everyone seemed to understand that Brazilians have a special way of supporting their athletes and stars, which arguably has no rival by any other nation in the world. Whether soccer or poker, the level of enthusiasm was the same.
Sotirios Koutoupas finished as the runner up. He began heads-up play from a 2 to 1 chip disadvantage and simply couldn’t overcome either the spirit or the good fortune of an opponent that seemed destined for victory. Koutoupas’ consolation prize came to $338,414.
Thiago Nishijima is a 36-year-old poker pro. This marked his 17th time to cash in a WSOP event, dating back to 2009. Previously, Nishijima finished third, collecting $315,828 in an event held in 2010, which had been his best finish to this point. Now, with a victory and nearly double that in prize money, Nishijima crossed the $1 million mark in series earnings.
With this victory, Nishijima became only the third Brazilian poker player to win a WSOP gold bracelet in history. The first was Alexandre Gomes (2008). The second was Andre Akkari (2011).
Following Nishijima’s finish in the top spot, the descending order of results was as follows:
Second Place: Sotirios Koutoupas, from Greece, finished in 2nd place. He’s a 32-year-old self-employed part-time poker player who posted his first cash ever at the WSOP. The $338,414 payout made for quite a memorable debut.
Third Place: Jesse Sylvia, from Las Vegas, NV took 3rd place. Now with close to $6 million in WSOP winnings, the bulk of which was earned as the Main Event Championship runner up three years, at 29, Sylvia seems primed, if not overdue for a win. He’s now cashed 17 times since his debut showing at the WSOP back in 2011. The prize money he collected for this finish -- $211,731 – seemed to be the last thing on Sylvia’s mind as he walked away in disappointment.
Fourth Place: Sam Razavi, a 34-year-old British poker pro now living in Cebu City, The Philippines, is one of Asia’s top tournament players. He’s won the Asian Poker Tour's (APT) “Player of the Year” three times, including back to back years. However, Razavi had yet to make a WSOP final table until this occasion. He picked up $153,682 for 4th place.
Fifth Place: Yun Fan, from Taipei, Taiwan, ended up in 5th place. This marked Fan’s fifth time to cash at this year’s series, which paid $113,452.
Sixth Place: Alexander Freund, from Vienna, Austria came in 6th. He’s a 27-year-old student. Freund cashed for the second time at this year’s series, which paid $85,049.
Seventh Place: Alex Keating, a 27-year-old poker player from San Jose, CA has now cashed 8 times at the WSOP. This was his first final table appearance, which paid out $64,691 for finishing 7th.
Eighth Place: Duncan McCallum, a Boston-area poker player who runs a charitable foundation, made quite a showing in his first WSOP cash, by making the final table and going out 8th. McCallum, who previously cashed in a WSOP Circuit event at Foxwoods two years ago, picked up the highest cash prize yet of his amateur poker career, $49,868.
Ninth Place: Steve Brecher, from Reno, NV has been playing on the tournament circuit for many years. He has numerous WPT deep runs, and has enjoyed much success at the WSOP, including 17 cashes. However, he’s yet to win a gold bracelet. Brecher’s wait will be extended following his 9th-place showing in this tournament, which paid $38,960.
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS:
Some of the more notable players who cashed included former gold bracelet winners – Harry Thomas (14th), Eric Baldwin (15th), Barry Hutter (31st), Jason Lester (49th), Brian Rast (52nd), John Reading (76th), Tristan Wade (82nd), John Gale (86th), and Chris Drombrowski (92nd).
(Note: Will appear 48 hours after event concludes)