LAS VEGAS (3 June 2017) – Upeshka De Silva won his second World Series of Poker gold bracelet on Saturday, collecting $229,923 and the coveted jewelry for capturing the 2017 WSOP's Event #3, $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout.
De Silva triumphed over a 369-player field in the 2017 WSOP's first shootout event of the series, in which the winners of individual tables advance to successive rounds. De Silva won three straight shootout tables over the course of the three-day event to claim gold.
Event #3's final table turned into a deep-stacked duel between De Silva and runner-up Louis Helm, featuring a marked contrast in live experience, if not necessarily style. Sri Lanka-born De Silva arrived at the final table with 23 combined WSOP and WSOP Circuit cashes and nearly $970,000 in official WSOP winnings. That total included his $424,577 bracelet win in a 2015 $1,500 no-limit event. Helm, a Michigan native now living in Texas (as does De Silva), had only one previous WSOP cash in a $1,000 no-limit event in last year's series, though he has an extensive online-poker background of his own.
That Event #3 would turn into a lengthy duel wasn't evident early on. De Silva dominated the day's first few levels, at one point amassing over half of all the chips in play. That dominance began after he claimed a large pot against fellow former bracelet winner Taylor Paur. Paur never recovered from the early hit and was first to be eliminated in Saturday's finale.
After a couple of hours of early final-table action, De Silva had amassed nearly half the chips in play. However, it was the relative newcomer to live play, Helm, who surged to the lead with knockouts of several players. The final table's theme changed, however, when Helm bounced the third of the final table's previous bracelet winners, Jean “Prince” Gaspard, in ninth. That knockout triggered a Helm surge that took him all the way to the lead within a couple of levels' play. Included in the run: a near double-up that ended the final-table run of fifth-place finisher Olivier Busquet.
Soon after Busquet's exit, the final table shrunk from four to two in back-to-back hands. First, Helm bounced German-born, UK-resident pro Jan Eric Schwippert in fourth place when Helm's pocket nines held against a short-stacked Schwippert's . Pocket nines held again in the next hand, when De Silva's pair outraced Linglin Zeng's following a pre-flop raising battle. Zeng, a native of China, was the sole female player at this final table.
Runner-up Helm's first WSOP final table might provide him some extra working capital for his computing-based Texas startup company. A self-decribed "tech entrepreneur," Helm has recently been featured in a Fusion TV cryonics documentary.
As heads-up play wore on, De Silva ground down Helm in a lengthy heads-up battle, collecting his second bracelet when his held up against Helm's ; Helm moved all in and De Silva called. The board ran out , with De Silva's rail erupting as the river jack arrived.
According to De Silva, his early surge at the final table allowed him to wield extra pressure, due to the healthy jumps in pay for the final spots. Though it wasn't quite the rout it might have been, De Silva was still able to work his way to the final two.
Referring to Helm, who fought from a shortish stack all the way to the lead as heads-up play began, De Silva said, “He played very well; he played a lot better than I anticipated. He played a limp / re-raise-all-in strategy. I kept trying to isolate his weak hands and he kept going all in. He stayed alive for quite a while.”
De Silva acknowledged that his heads-up strategy was to chip away at Helm's stack. “I felt like my end game was a little bit better. I thought I'd take a lower-variance style and grind him down. He gets a double-up and it's anybody's game. I was even scared to call him there with ace-jack,” he said, referring to the event's final hand.
As for the format, one of the newer offerings in the WSOP's annual lineup, De Silva said, “It was a great tournament; I'd love to play it again.” De Silva also expressed his hopes that the WSOP might consider a higher-stakes shootout, with at least a $5,000 buy-in.
The final table of Event #3 featured three former bracelet winners in De Silva, Gaspard, and Paur. Former college basketball star Gaspard and seventh-place finisher John Richards also own WSOP Circuit Series rings.
The many prominent players who cashed in Event #3 included Aditya Agarwal, Dominik Nitsche, Kyle Bowker, Barry Greenstein, Jared Jaffee, John Racener, Andre Akkari, Jean-Robert Bellande, Andy Philachack, Aaron Mermelstein, James Obst, Matt Glantz, Blake Bohn, and Matthew Wakeman. Each of these players won his first-round table before being eliminated in the second of the tourney's three rounds of shootout play.
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Final Table Payouts (earned POY points in parentheses)
1st: Upeshka De Silva, $229,923 (161.3)
2nd: Louis Helm, $142,115 (137.4)
3rd: Linglin Zeng, $103,449 (123.6)
4th: Jan Eric Schwippert, $76,018 (111.6)
5th: Olivier Busquet, $56,397 (101.0)
6th: Casey Carroll, $42,246 (91.7)
7th: John Richards, $31,955 (83.6)
8th: Mark McMillin, $24,410 (76.4)
9th: Jean Gaspard, $18,832 (70.1)
10th: Taylor Paur, $14,675 (64.5)