Online pro wins his first bracelet in the first event he's ever played at the Rio
June 14, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - Three days ago, Shane Buchwald registered for his first-ever World Series of Poker event on American soil. Three days later, Buchwald is leaving town with his first WSOP bracelet.
Buchwald defeated a 616-player field in the $1,500 limit hold'em event to win his first WSOP title in the first Las Vegas-based WSOP event he's ever participated in. He defeated Sandy Tayi heads-up in just eight hands to take home the $177,985 first place money.
"It's hard to believe," said Buchwald after his win. "It's actually my first WSOP event that I've ever entered. Well, I entered one WSOP Europe event."
The 33-year-old poker pro came to Vegas to visit some friends for a few days and didn't think he was going to play poker on the trip. If his friend didn't have plans on playing this event, Buchwald wouldn't have a bracelet to his name.
"I was here and not planning on playing poker, but my friend is a limit hold'em regular and he wanted to play this," said Buchwald. "I got here and registered after a 25-hour flight. I was falling asleep during the last four levels of the first day. But I built up a stack and I ran really well."
Buchwald's 25-hour flight here originated from his current home in Southern Brazil. Buchwald was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, but left the country after Black Friday and spent most of his time since 2011 outside the country playing online poker.
Along with finding success at the WSOP, he also earned success in a game that he has almost no experience in. Most of his time spent on the virtual felt is in the pot-limit Omaha cash games.
"I've never played full ring limit hold'em in my life," said Buchwald. "But I've probably played heads-up online, probably 20,000 hands of limit hold'em. I am friends with quite a few high-stakes limit hold'em players who I've watched play and they have taught me the ropes. I've just watched them play and I kind of get it."
Buchwald is fluent in Spanish and Portugese after getting his degree at the University of Maryland. Despite having played poker for a living most of his adult life, Buchwald is looking to branch out and signed up for some training in a different concentration.
"I signed up for culinary school," he said. "Kind of getting away from poker for a bit."
He doesn't necessarily want to use the training to become a chef, but looks at it more as an opportunity to become better at something, while his significant other finishes school.
"I have no plans. I just registered for culinary school and that's all I know," said Buchwald. "I don't want to be a chef. I just want to cook better. Right now, I'm just supporting my girlfriend while she finishes veterinary school. Everything is just up in the air."
The third and final day started with 15 players remaining and Buchwald right in the middle of the pack with his chips. Most of the attention was on Barry Greenstein, who was in the hunt for his fourth WSOP bracelet, but he finished in 11th place and missed out on adding another final table to his resume.
Throughout the early part of the day, Buchwald chipped up and after Greenstein was eliminated, Buchwald took the chip lead to the unofficial final table with 10 players left.
Ray Pulford was eliminated in 10th, which set up the final table and over the first 15 hands of play, Buchwald lost half of his stack, as Nancy Nguyen and Tayi moved to the top of the counts. Nguyen is a regular on the WSOP Circuit and the chip leader at the start of the day.
Buchwald eliminated in Tung Tran in ninth place to move his chip stack back in the right direction. Mark Bassaly was eliminated in eight, Kevin Lizak hit the rail in seventh and Hod Berman was eliminated in sixth.
It was with five people left that Buchwald made his move to the top and stayed there permanently. Even when his stack was trending downward, Buchwald was still in his comfort zone.
"I basically wanted to keep myself above 10 big bets the whole time," said Buchwald. "As long as I was around there, I was pretty happy. Because to lose four big bets, it means I have to get coolered. I'd have to get to a river and then call with the worst hand, which is pretty unlikely."
Nguyen hit the rail in fifth when she got all in with a straight draw against Tayi's set of threes and four-handed play lasted for a while before Shane Fumerton fell in fourth.
The most established live pro at the final table was Ray Henson. Henson has four Circuit rings to his name and just missed out on his first bracelet in the 2015 Colossus, when he finished third. He finished third in this event as well, earning $75,780 and leaving Buchwald heads-up with Tayi.
The two players took a 60-minute dinner break before coming back and starting their heads-up duel. The match only lasted eight hands before Buchwald had all of the chips. Tayi raised the first hand and won the pot preflop before Buchwald won the next seven hands in a row to finish the match.
With such a dominating performance in a game that he doesn't have much experience in, some would think that Buchwald would've caught the live tournament bug. It seems more likely that he rides into the proverbial sunset with a win.
"Some people keep telling me that I have to play the Main Event," said Buchwald. "But I think I might just stick with my one-for-one record in WSOP events. It's probably as good as it gets. Maybe I'll just never play again."
Relive the action with the live updates from the $1,500 Limit Holdem
Final Table Results:
1st: Shane Buchwald - $177,985
2nd: Sandy Tayi - $109,968
3rd: Ray Henson - $75,780
4th: Shane Fumerton - $53,102
5th: Nancy Nguyen - $37,850
6th: Hod Berman - $27,449
7th: Kevin Lizak - $20,261
8th: Mark Bassaly - $15,225
9th: Tung Tran - $11,652