LAS VEGAS (5 July 2017) – Romania's Alexandru Papazian has captured his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet in the 2017's Event #60, $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold'em.
Papazian's triumph in this big-field event with a special “eight” theme was worth six eights – $888,888, more precisely. It was also his sixth career WSOP cash, joining four others earlier this series and one in 2016, boosting his career WSOP winnings to $903,495.
The bracelet win was also the first by a Romanian player in World Series of Poker history, and it made Papazian the country's career tournament earnings leader.
Papazian, called “Papa” by his friends, routed most of the the final table of eight in late Day 3 action, setting the stage for a brief Day 4 duel against Germany's Kilian Kramer.
Kramer, who entered the official final table with the lead and who was the only finalist to survive Papazian's late-Day 3 rush, earned second-place money of $463,888. This was Kramer's 18th career WSOP cash, and it moved his lifetime WSOP winnings over the million-dollar mark, to $1,149,621.
The United Kingdom's Harry Lodge finished in third, collecting $344,888.
Papazian finished off the victory in short order once play resumed on Day 4. Having just lost half of his chips in the previous hand, Kramer moved all in for his six million and change in chips with . Papazian asked for a count, then called and showed . The hand was all but over on the flop, and the turn sealed it. A meaningless river completed the hand.
Papa was more nonchalant about both his victory and his late rush on Day 3 that set up the win, given the giant payday, the first bracelet win, and the general WSOP hoopla. “That's tournaments. You can't win without running hot.... I waited for my moment, and then I attacked. It went my way. I ran good; I think I played good.
He saved his greatest enthusiasm for his thoughts on being the first Romanian to claim gold at the WSOP. "I do care about being the first one from my country to win a bracelet. I'm super happy for it. I'm hoping it won't be the last one for Romanians, and that there's more to come. You're going to see us around."
Papazian also thanked his enthusiastic rail. With a laugh, he noted, "I think they railed better than I played. My thanks go to them as well."
This year's Crazy Eights event drew 8,120 paid entries distributed over multiple starting flights, building an impressive $6,489,504 prize pool. The top 1,119 spots earned a cash in this event.
The Day 3 field winnowed itself from 28 to a final table of eight with relative speed. Ben Yu, who's already won a bracelet this series in Event #34, $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship, was the unlucky player to bubble the official final eight.
After Yu's exit, however, more than three hours elapsed without another elimination. The table's shortest stacks successfully doubled up multiple times while the final's early leaders, Kilian Kramer and Vlad Darie, were dragged back to the pack, with Papazian surging to the top amid cries of “Papa” from his and Darie's Romanian rail.
Eventually, though, the rising blinds came into greater effect. France's Guillaume Diaz was eliminated well into the evening, his falling to Papazian's with Diaz's last 20 big blinds in the pot before the flop. The board brought , leaving seven players in the running.
Diaz's exit triggered a quick parade of cashouts that trimmed the field to just Papazian and Kramer in little over an hour's play. Next out was Sweden's Michael Tureniec, who pushed in his final few blinds' worth of chips with A-2, but couldn't catch an ace or other help to top Papazian's pocket sevens. Former bracelet winner Papazian collected seventh-place money.
Sixth went to Papazian's fellow Romanian player, Vlad Durie, just five hands later. Again it was Papazian delivering the knockout when his topped Duries . The flop of kept Durie in the lead, but Papazian moved ahead on the turn, and the river completed the hand.
In the very next hand, Papazian did it again, busting James Cappucci in fifth. Papazian pushed all in in a blinds-stealing move at the short stacks to his left, as he'd done in a few other hands, but this time Cappucci called and was ahead with to Papazian's . Papazian's torrid run continued when the board ran out for the flush and the knockout, Papazian's third in seven hands.
It took ten more hands, but Papazian made it four straight eliminations when he sent Greece's Ioannis Angelou Konstas to the rail. Angelou Kostas nursed a short stack through the other carnage, successfully moving up the pay ladder, but his run ended here when was no good against Papazian's on a board.
Only another six hands elapsed before the United Kingdom's Harry Lodge joined the growing line at the payout window. This time, Kilian claimed the honors in a hand where Lodge moved all in with and Kilian called with . Lodge caught his ace on the flop and was safe through the turn, but Kilian found the on the river to officially narrow the event to its final to. After Lodge's exit, Papazian and Kilian agreed to return for an early Day 4 session to decide the Crazy Eights winner. Papazian enjoyed a huge edge as the chips were bagged for the night, 50.7 million to 14.2 million.
This big-field event saw many well-known players making deep runs. Among those who survived into Day 3 but busted short of the official eight-player final table were Ben Yu (9th), Eric Baldwin (12th), Millionaire Maker winner Pablo Mariz (13th), and overall WSOP cashes record-holder Doug Carli (14th). Those who earned cashes in this event but were eliminated late on Day 2 included nine-time Circuit ring winner Valentin Vornicu (31st), Farzad Bonyadi (54th), Lee Markholt (55th), Bart Lybaert (61st), and JC Tran (68th).
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Final-Table Payouts (earned POY points in parentheses):
1st: Alexandru Papazian, $888,888 (309.9)
2nd: Kilian Kramer, $463,888 (249.5)
3rd: Harry Lodge, $344,888 (226.1)