June 15, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - After notching a World Series of Poker bracelet on Thursday night, Tyler Groth has more than enough money to fix his cell phone.
The poker pro from Iowa bested a field of 1,058 players to win $179,126 and his first WSOP bracelet in the $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event. He broke his phone on the dinner break of the event when there were three players remaining, leaving many of his friends and family in the dark about his result.
"I need to get my phone fixed," said Groth after the win. "I'm not kidding, man. It's the one thing going through my head right now because I can't contact anybody. Nobody knows. They knew with three left on dinner break, but nobody knows what happened yet unless they were watching. Then, my phone should be blowing up."
It was Groth's first six-figure score in his first-ever WSOP cash. According to Groth, he's played about eight or nine events, but finished short of the money every time. With a cash and a win under his belt, Groth's first call will be to one of his biggest supporters.
"My mom," said Groth when asked about who the first person he was going to call when he gets his phone repaired.
After the initial panic about his phone settled down, the gravity of the situation hit him.
"I'm in shock," said Groth. "I'm not kidding. I'm shaking. Honestly, I just want to cry."
Groth earned his first WSOP win in pot-limit Omaha, but his regular game is the limit split pot version of the game. In his own mind, players who play Omaha hi-lo don't get enough credit when they are playing pot-limit Omaha.
"I'm an O8 player and I took on a lot of great PLO players today," said Groth. "And you don't get a lot of respect as an O8 player in the PLO games. It was nice to take them out."
The Storm Lake, Iowa native cut his teeth online years ago. After Black Friday, his online career came to a halt and he focused more on his career. Last year, he decided to quit his job, leave the Midwest and move out to the desert to pursue live poker full time.
"I moved out here to give 'live pro' a go," said the 32-year-old. "I literally quit my job and was like 'You know what? No more bosses. I'm going back to poker.' There was some online coming back too."
Just securing his first cash was an achievement for him, but even as he progressed deeper, he was able to keep calm and play his game. It wasn't until he got under the bright lights of a WSOP final table that he felt any pressure for the first time.
"The only time I felt it was when we first sat down at that table and those lights," said Groth. "It took a while until I got into a zone and into the game. But that was the only time the whole tournament that I felt pressure."
While Groth was still getting acclimated to the foreign environment that was the final table, he was bluffed out of what he called a 'monster pot' by Darren Taylor. Soon after, he was able to settle down and play his game.
He came into the final table near the top of the chip counts and outside of the one misstep against Taylor, he never really seemed to move far from the top of the counts.
It was Groth and Allan Le battling for the chip lead for most of the final table. Taylor busted in fourth, which left the table three-handed with Le and Groth holding most of the chips in play.
Le, who won a bracelet at last year's WSOP in the $1,500 mixed pot-limit Omaha event, was eliminated in third place after playing a massive pot against Groth. Groth raised on the button and called a three-bet from Le out of the big blind. They got all the chips in the middle on a flop of with Groth in the lead with his against Le's .
Groth's two pair held up to eliminate Le and give Groth a massive chip lead starting heads-up play against Jonathan Zarin. It was the turning point of the final table for Groth.
"Well, when you get an ace double suited hand, I was just going to play position," said Groth. "I knew he was going to push, so all I needed to do was hit the flop. That was the point when I thought I was going to win."
Zarin scored an early double up, but was never able to build up a stack that could put Groth's chances of winning in jeopardy. They traded small pots for over an hour before Zarin was on the wrong end of a cold deck against Groth.
Zarin flopped bottom set and filled up on the turn. He check-raised the flop and bet the turn with Groth calling both bets. The river was an ace and Zarin moved all in. Groth called showing , which gave him a bigger full house, the pot and the bracelet.
Like a true professional, Groth isn't going to rest on his laurels for long. He's already eying his next win which he hopes will come three days from now.
"I'm playing the $1,500 mixed O8 tomorrow," said Groth. "It's my best game and I'm going to win it. I'm calling my shot."
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Final Table Results:
1st: Tyler Groth - $179,126
2nd: Jonathan Zarin - $110,655
3rd: Allan Le - $78,372
4th: Darren Taylor - $56,242
5th: Igor Sharaskin - $40,862
6th: Adam Brown - $30,090
7th: Daniel Spencer - $22,456
8th: Mark Zullo - $16,986
9th: Casey Carroll - $13,026