LAS VEGAS (16 June 2017) – Joseph di Rosa Rojas, a 34-year-old resident of Caracas, Venezuela, has triumphed in “The Marathon,” the deep-stacked and extended-play Event #23 of the 2017 World Series of Poker, $2,620 No-Limit Hold'em.
Di Rosa Rojas outlasted 1,758 other entrants on his way to victory in the grueling poker test, while also dominating final-table play.
Di Rosa Rojas claimed the Marathon's first-place prize of $690,469 and his first WSOP gold bracelet, after eliminating his final foe, Australia's Alexander Lynskey. Lynskey's runner-up showing was worth $426,663.
Jeffrey Tomlinson, the only prior bracelet winner to make the final nine in this event, finished in third for $307,728.
For Di Rosa Rojas, this breakthrough win was by far the largest result of his career. He had previously earned four WSOP cashes, all in 2016 and 2017, for a total of $26,701. The win also marked his first career WSOP final table.
Di Rosa Rojas was mobbed by his vocal group of family and friends when his pocket tens held up in the final hand, kicking off several minutes of exuberant celebration. It's the first time a player from Venezuela has claimed WSOP gold. In 2016, Dorian Rios finished in second place in the WSOP's Monster Stack event.
"It's incredible," said di Rosa Rojas, commenting on his final-table rush, with the reality of his win still sinking in. "I played a lot of hands, and ... I don't know!"
As to when he realized that the Marathon bracelet could be his, he was more precise. "It was with 18 players left. Two tables." That was late on Day 4, when di Rosa Rojas first surged into the lead, which then grew steadily through most of the remaining action.
Di Rosa Rojas isn't a well-known figure at the WSOP, but he's also not quite new to the game, either. "I've been playing poker for about eight years," he added, "and this is my second time in Vegas." Di Rosa Rojas has international experience besides the WSOP, however. "I've played in Barcelona, the Bahamas, Panama, and Aruba" among other locales.
Did the five-day grind bother Di Rosa Rojas? Not according to him. "When you play poker, you're just thinking about the table, about the cards. You don't see time."
The Marathon event extended over five consecutive days, with action on most days stretching for 12 to 14 hours. The event featured deep starting stacks and extended, 100-minute levels that encouraged both endurance and skilled play.
Thirteen players from the initial field of 1,759 entries survived into Day 5 of the Marathon, led by Di Rosa Rojas. He chipped up further as the field dwindled to nine, with Josh Weiss bubbling the official final table.
First to depart from that official final table was 10-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Maurice Hawkins. Hawkins led much of Day 4's action before being overtaken by Di Rosa Rojas and others. He exited here when he moved the last of his chips in on a flop of . Tomlinson called and his led Hawkins' . The turn and river brought the and , giving Tomlinson a pair and sending Hawkins to the rail.
Pratik Ghatge finished in eighth after a battle of short-stacked blinds when his couldn't stay ahead of Andrew Jernigan's . The flop paired Jernigan's queen, and Ghatge couldn't find his needed king or ten on the turn or river to stave off elimination.
Jernigan fell next, after re-raising all in over a Julian Stuer open. Stuer called with and found himself ahead of Jernigan's . Jernigan watched the board run out , missing his hand and ending his seventh-place run.
Another of this final's better-known players exited in sixth. Faraz Jaka shoved in his own short stack with , and Alexander Lynskey re-raised from the small blind with . The board ran out , missing Jaka.
Fifth went to Germany's Julian Stuer, who gained ground early in the final but was unable to retain the momentum. In a battle of the blinds against Tomlinson, the short-stacked Stuer flopped a set of sevens but Tomlinson made a flush on the river, trimming the field to four.
That soon became three when Jeff Reilly ran his pocket eights into Tomlinson's nines, with Tomlinson having Reilly barely covered. The board sent Tomlinson to the cashier's window.
The knockout of Reilly moved Tomlinson into second place, but both he and Lynskey together had less than a quarter of the chips in play. Lynskey chipped up over the next two dozen hands, however, while Tomlinson's stack dwindled. Tomlinson departed in third when he lost an all-in race against di Rosa Rojas. Tomlinson had and di Rosa Rojas , but the red-hot di Rosa Rojas stayed ahead as the board ran out .
Di Rosa Rojas ground down Lynskey from that point to seal his -- and Venezuela's -- first WSOP bracelet. In the final hand, di Rosa Rojas limped in, then called when Lynskey moved all in. Lynskey showed , while di Rosa Rojas showed . The tens held for the win as the board ran out .
Among the many well-known players cashing after a long Marathon run were Eric Baldwin (21st), John Phan (24th), Upeshka de Silva (30th), Kristen Bicknell (44th), Adrian Mateos (52nd), Maria Ho (58th), Marcel Vonk (72nd), Sam Stein (76th), Dietrich Fast (84th), and Ankush Mandavia (86th).
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Final Table Payouts (earned POY points in parentheses):
1st: Joseph Di Rosa Rojas, $690,469 (237.9)
2nd: Alexander Lynskey, $426,663 (202.6)
3rd: Jeffrey Tomlinson, $307,728 (181.7)
4th: Tim Reilly, $224,316 (163.5)
5th: Julian Stuer, $165,277 (147.7)
7th: Andrew Jernigan, $92,705 (121.8)