LAS VEGAS (3 July 2017) – Artur Rudziankov has triumphed in the 2017 World Series of Poker's Event #58, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em. Rudziankov's victory Monday afternoon in an unscheduled Day 4 session was worth $395,918, in addition to his first WSOP gold bracelet.
Rudziankov began play in this event's official final table with the chip lead, but watched as Spain's Mario Prats Garcia and Germany's Christian Rudolph moved ahead early during the final's play. Rudziankov reversed the momentum and climbed back in front courtesy of a late string of knockouts that culminated in the elimination of Prats Garcia in second place.
Rudziankov, a 29-year-old student who was born in Minsk, Belarus but has lived in Prague, Czech Republic, for 19 years, more than doubled his career WSOP winnings with this victory. Previously, he had earned $269,946 in 11 previous WSOP and WSOP International Circuit cashes, with this payday swelling his overall total to $665,864.
Rudziankov's win is only the second bracelet victory for the Czech Republic in WSOP history. Tomas Junek was the first Czech player to claim gold when he won a similar $1,500 no-limit hold'em event in 2012. Rudziankov himself made up for a near miss two years ago, when he finished as the runner-up in the 2015 WSOP's Event #30 $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em, for $219,976.
Prats Garcia, who was born in Barcelona but now also lives in Prague, earned $244,611 as the runner-up. Prats Garcia had only a single $833 cash on his WSOP resumé before his near quarter-million payday here.
Florida's Timothy Miles finished in third, earning $176,455.
The duel between Rudziankov and Prats Garcia featured plenty of aggressive play, with both players successfully executing and being picked off on bluffs during the brief battle. In the end, a failed bluff decided this one.
Prats Garcia had fought back to take a narrow lead on Rudziankov about an hour into Day 4 play. In the 198th hand of the final table, Rudziankov raised from the small blind to 350,000, and Prats Garcia re-raised to 1.1 million, with Rudziankov calling. Prats Garcia bet another 675,000 on the flop and Rudziankov called again. Both players checked the turn. The river brought the , and Prats Garcia moved all in for more almost 5.1 million, having Rudziankov narrowly covered. Rudziankov snap-called and turned over for the nut Broadway straight. Prats Garcia took a moment to show his for the busted bluff.
The hand left Prats Garcia with less than 500,000 chips out of the rougly 13 million in play. He managed to double up once, then got his chips in as a favorite again with against Rudziankov's . Rudziankov spiked the four, however, on the flop, and the turn narrowed Prats Garcia's hopes to the three remaining aces. The river brought the instead, finishing off Rudziankov's win.
"Things sarted out better for me," said Rudziankov, referring to his previous final-two showing back in 2015, when Ivan Luca bested him for a bracelet win. "I had more confidence this time around. And of course I got lucky a couple of times."
Rudziankov's late push on Day 3, when he set the stage for the victory by knocking out Rudolph, Arman Zolnoorian, and Miles in rapid succession, gave him the needed cushion to survive Prats Garcia's two key doubles during heads-up action. "I was just running hot," he said. "You've got to run hot to win these tournaments. You've got to be lucky. They've got to call when you have it, and fold when you don't have it."
Rudziankov also shared a chuckle about joining Junek as a Czech bracelet winner. "Yeah, he's one of our friends," Rudziankov said, indicating his large group of friends and fellow players at the rail. "He [Junek] is not going to be very happy," Rudziankov joked.
Going back to the key hand when Prats Garcia ran the mis-timed bluff into Rudziankov's waiting straight, he said, "It's an easy game when you have the nuts against all-in bluffs, yeah. Actually, at the beginning, I made a huge bluff and it didn't work out," an example of how the bluffs and momentum swings ran in this quick-paced duel. Rudziankov also added that he was every it as willing as Prats Garcia to bag chips late Sunday and return for a Day 4, to get not only rest, but some heads-up advice from his friends as well. Following his win, Rudziankov confirmed that he'll be participating in the upcoming WSOP Main Event.
Event 58's aggressive conclusion contrasted with the slow pace that marked early Day 3 play. 28 survivors remained as Sunday's Day 3 action began, and an official final table wasn't set until deep into the afternoon, when John Phan busted in tenth.
Arizona's Scott Lychwick exited next, taking ninth-place money in the deepest run of his career. Lychwick was down to his last few hundred thousand in chips when he moved all in with , and action folded around to Watkinson, who pondered, then called with . A flop of gave Watkinson two pair but also gave Lychwick an open-ended straight draw. That straight, though, never filled, with the turn and river reducing the final to eight.
Eight-way play stretched into the early evening before Martin Krbahel was bounced. Krbahel, from the Czech Republic, exited soon after losing most of his chips to Lee Watkinson, whose A-Q defeated Krbahel's pocket jacks in a hand where an ace appeared on the flop and the rest of the board ran out eight-high. Krbahel's final chips went in against John Esposito just four hands later, when Krbahel called all-in with on a flop. Esposito had for top pair, the turn ended any runner-runner chances, and the river sent Krbahel to the payout window.
Seven became six when former bracelet winner Esposito exited in similar fashion. First, Esposito lost most of his chips when his pocket jacks couldn't outrun Christian Rudolph's A-Q. Again an ace arrived on the flop and the rest of the board ran out dry. Rudolph delivered the knockout blow as well, just three hands later. Esposito moved all in for his last few hundred thousand in chips with ; Rudolph called with and won with ease as the board brought .
Lee Watkinson, the other prior bracelet winner in this final, collected sixth-place money here. Watkinson called a pre-flop raise from Artur Rudziankov, then shoved in his last 750,000 after a flop, Rudziankov called at once, showing his for trips, and it left Watkinson seeking an eight for a gutshot straight to stay alive. The turn, though, was the , and the river completed the knockout.
Rudolph's run ended just ten hands later. The German poker-playing student was already down to just a couple of hundred thousand chips when he first chopped a pot, then doubled up against Arman Zolnoorian. Rudolph's would-be comeback ended ubruptly when he ran his A-K into Rudziankov's pocket aces. The board ran out , leaving four in the title hunt.
Zolnoorian exited in fourth a short while later, a victim of both his own small stack and the ever-increasing blinds. Zolnoorian doubled up once but still had under 10 big blinds when he moved all in with . Rudziankov gave it some thought before calling with , and that king held up on a board of .
Rudziankov picked off third-place finisher Timothy Miles as well. Miles re-raised all in with K-10, going over the top of a Rudziankov raise, but Rudziankov called and showed A-K.
Miles' exit set the table for the heads-up match between Rudziankov and Prats Garcia, with Rudziankov starting the duel with about two thirds of the chips in play, which soon ran into a Day 4 session when the pair opted to bag their chips for the night.
This $1,500 no-limit hold'em tournament drew 1,763 entrants. The prize pool was $2,380,050, divided among 265 cashing players.
Among those surviving into Day 3 but busting out before the official final table were Phan (10th), Taylor Paur (16th), and Eric Fields (21st). More well-known players made the cash but were eliminated before the end of Day 2 play, including Phil Laak (38th), Joe Kuether (42nd), Chance Kornuth (47th), Alex Rocha (51st), and Rocco Palumbo (60th).
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Final-Table Payouts (earned POY points in parentheses):
1st: Artur Rudziankov, $395,918 (216.9)
2nd: Mario Prats Garcia, $244,611 (184.7)
3rd: Timothy Miles, $176,455 (165.7)
5th: Christian Rudolph, $94,799 (134.7)