June 16, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - Despite not getting a good night of sleep the night before the final table, Brian Brubaker won his first bracelet in arguably his best game.
The 32-year-old poker pro from the Los Angeles area defeated a 326-player field to win the $1,500 2-7 triple draw event on Friday evening to win his first World Series of Poker bracelet and $109,967.
"It was a lot of fun," said Brubaker. "It was pretty intense because there was a lot of swings throughout the final table. Heads-up was really intense and there was a lot of hands going back and forth. Luckily, I won the majority of the pots and basically just went straight up. It was intense and then you win. That's it."
In the early hours of Friday morning when the second day of play wrapped up, Brubaker had some trouble finding a hotel room in Las Vegas and according to his rail, he was nearly stuck sleeping in his car.
"I checked out of my room yesterday morning," said Brubaker. "Just planning on grabbing a room if I made the final table. We got done at 2 a.m. and it's a crazy weekend with EDC and everything. I was calling around and nobody had a vacancy. Finally, I found a room at Cosmo, but it was like the eighth place I had called. It was like 3:30 in the morning and I was tilted that I didn't have a place to sleep before the final table. But maybe that helped."
Prior to his win, Brubaker's best WSOP finish came four years ago in the same game. He finished third in the $2,500 2-7 triple draw for $70,743. All of his best finishes have been in draw games, which he gets plenty of experience playing in the Southern California casinos that he frequents.
"I play a fair amount of it and I guess I'm pretty good at draw altogether," said Brubaker. "Especially at tournaments. I think I make some adjustments that made me successful. I don't know if other people would say that are good, but I've had some success with it and I had something to prove. So, yeah, I guess I like the draw games."
Brubaker defeated Brendan Taylor heads-up, denying his Taylor his second bracelet. Taylor won the $1,500 limit hold'em shootout in 2010. Taylor, a pro based in Las Vegas, was arguably the most aggressive player at the table and held the chip lead for most of the day.
Luckily for Brubaker, he had direct position on Taylor and was able to avoid playing big pots with him for the most part until heads-up play began. At that point, Brubaker had overtaken Taylor for the chip lead.
"I didn't really play with him at all until we combined to one table of seven," said Brubaker about Taylor. "He was the most aggressive player by far. He had the most chips, so it's a little bit easier for him, but he's a good player. I mean, with no antes and just blinds, and I had a comfortable stack, so I didn't need to get involved in every pot. You, we played some hands, especially blind vs. blind, but we didn't battle too much until heads-up. Then, obviously, we battled every hand."
Brubaker made a few adjustments to his game since he was generally facing a raise from Taylor, but most of it came in blind vs. blind spots.
"I didn't adjust too much to him opening because when he was opening buttons it was my small blind, but when he was opening small blinds, I was pretty much calling every time," said the Colorado native. "Basically, any three card draw. I made some adjustments, but I didn't want to over adjust and start battling with him when I'm second in chips with like, really rough draws that are just gamble spots."
Despite the win and the extra money in his bankroll, Brubaker doesn't plan to deviate from his summer plan. He's not going to play anything bigger than normal and is leaving Vegas to head back to Los Angeles for a while.
"I planned on going home whenever this tournament was over, and now it's over," he said. "So yeah, I'll come back and play the Stud 8 and the $3K HORSE next week. That was the plan all along."
The final day of play came back with six players fighting it out for a bracelet, but the unofficial final table was reached late on Day 2. Four-time bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi was eliminated just before the end of the day, leaving the final six players coming back at 2 p.m. on Friday.
Rick Fuller was the first player to hit the rail after cards got in the air on Friday. He was eliminated by Brubaker in sixth place during the first level of play. Brubaker made a 7-6 low and had Fuller, who was drawing to an eight, drawing dead.
Dean Kerl was eliminated a few hands later by Jason Riesenberg. They both made eight lows, but Risenberg's 8-5 low bested Kerl's 8-6. They battled four-handed for the rest of the second level, with Max Kruse becoming the short stack as play progressed.
The German professional soccer player hit the rail in fourth when he busted to Taylor. They both made nine lows after getting all in earlier in the hand, but Taylor's 9-7 topped Kruse's 9-8 low.
Brubaker made a wheel to eliminate Risenberg in third and took a slight chip lead into head-up play against Taylor. Over the course of the next hour, Brubaker steadily incrased his lead and took a two-to-one chip lead into what ended up being the final break of the day.
He finished off Taylor after about 90 minutes of heads-up action when his 9-8 low faded Taylor's draw to an eight. Taylor paired his eight and Brubaker took down his first WSOP win.
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Final Table Results:
1st: Brian Brubaker - $109,967
2nd: Brendan Taylor - $67,952
3rd: Jason Riesenberg - $43,597
4th: Max Kruse - $28,740
5th: Dean Kerl - $19,482
6th: Rick Fuller - $13,591
7th: Robert Mizrachi - $9,765