Long-time grinder breaks through for first bracelet win in his favorite event
June 29, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - Bryce Yockey came into the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo full of confidence, and with good reason.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Yockey rode his confidence all the way to his first World Series of Poker bracelet and $511,147. He bested a field of 209 players and defeated Jeremy Joseph heads-up to lock up his largest career score at the WSOP.
"It's definitely a bucket list thing," said Yockey about winning a bracelet. "I've always really wanted to win one. This is my fifth final table and I had two previous ones in PLO8. And I felt like I either blew it or got super unlucky both times. So, it's super rewarding to play this tournament and it's the first time it's a $10K."
With his previous success in this specific poker variant, Yockey liked his chances in the event from the outset of the tournament.
"I told everyone before the event that I'm going to go out there and win it," said Yockey. "I tried to make as many side bets as I could just came through. It's just like 'This one really fells good. It's different from like winning a $1,500 tournament. There are a lot of those. This is the first one of these and there are a lot of tough pros to get through and stuff. It felt good to get here."
He went through a bad stretch of cards a couple months before the series started, but found his stride at the right time. Hitting an upswing just before the series put him in the right mindset for the grind that is the WSOP schedule, which is extremely important to him.
"Honestly, all the confidence came from having a big downswing before the summer and then I got lucky, I final tabled a different tournament," said Yockey. "Since then, I went on a big heater. I won a lot in cash games and I did good there. I came in brimming with confidence. I feel like half of poker is your mindset, anyway."
This was Yockey's second final table of the summer, after having a fifth place finish in the Millionaire Maker. He finished fifth in that event for $317,554, but he felt like he had some unfinished business after coming so close to a bracelet a few weeks ago. Which makes this win even sweeter.
"That tournament I had like a ton of chips with like 18 left and I really thought I was going to win that one," said Yockey about his Millionaire Maker run. "I took a couple tough beats and went to the final table short and I couldn't really do anything. I was happy to get that far, but I felt like that was another one that just kind of slipped away. I always wanted to win a tournament and this was like really, really rewarding, especially after that."
Throughout the final table, Yockey kept a smile on his face and the fellow players at the table laughing. In a poker landscape where many players are silent and focused on themselves, he feels that playing poker should be a fun, enjoyable experience.
"My mindset is that if you aren't having fun playing poker, then you really shouldn't be playing it," said Yockey. "There are better ways to gamble and if you are a pro, there are other ways to make money. So, if you are playing a game, then you should enjoy it. That's the whole point. That's why people do it. And if you have fun, then other people have fun. That's better for everyone."
The final day of action got cards in the air at 2 p.m. on Wednesday with 15 players still vying for the first place money and the bracelet. The event was played eight-handed and when the final table was reached, Yockey was near the top of the pack behind Kate Hoang and Josh Arieh.
The final eight played for five hours before losing a single player from the final table, but over that time, Hoang went from chip leader to an eighth place finish.
She got all in a flop of with against Jeremy Joseph's . The turn was the and the river was the . Joseph made a flush to scoop the pot and eliminate Hoang.
Ray Henson was eliminated shortly after in seventh place by Quentin Krueger. Henson, who is having an impressive summer already, added his ninth cash and fourth final table of the summer to his resume and is in the running for . Henson earned $58,612 for his efforts.
Christopher Roth was eliminated in sixth place by Krueger, which left the table five-handed. At this point, Krueger had taken over the chip lead and Yockey was one of the short stacks.
During one of the crucial hands of the tournament for Yockey, he was all in against Arieh, but found running cards to secure half the pot and stay alive. Yockey got all in preflop with against Arieh's .
The flop came and Yockey was basically dead for half of the pot. The came on the turn and the came on the river to keep Yockey alive, giving him a qualifying low.
In a rare act of superstition, Yockey stood up from his hand and turned his hand face-down after the flop. He immediately made sure it was tabled after he realized he was getting half of the pot.
"You know, it's funny because I'm not really a superstitious person," said Yockey. "But I also feel like that if you are not superstitious, it is a freeroll to pretend like you are. I've played with Josh in the past and he knocked me out in a tournament and he had that hand and I was like 'God, how does he have aces here?' And just like who turns their cards over and stands up?
"But I feel like I see so many people stand up from their chair and then they get exactly what they need and I was just like 'Yes, I finally got it." I got it in bad and I ran hot and I finally got it one time."
The final five players took a short break and upon return, Yockey really turned up the heat and put the screws to the rest of the table. He flopped a full house to eliminate Quentin Krueger in fifth and Josh Arieh sent Chris Ferguson packing in fourth to leave Arieh, Joseph and Yockey as the final three.
Yockey scored a massive double up through Arieh when he got all in preflop with against Arieh's . Yockey's hand held up and he took a massive chip lead, which he never relinquished.
Yockey eliminated Arieh in third and took a 2-to-1 chip lead into heads-up play against Joseph. Yockey steadily extended his lead over the course of the next 30 minutes and then put away Joseph in second place when he got all in on with top pair and the nut low draw against Joseph's second pair and a wrap straight draw.
Yockey turned trips and the board double paired on the river to brick off for Joseph's draw. He normally stays pretty calm, but for his first bracelet win, Yockey jumped up from the table and rushed over to his rail after the last card his the felt.
"I just feel like this one meant a lot to me because this is the game that I really pride myself on and this is the game that I told everybody that I was going to win and then it felt like it was really happening," said Yockey. "Every pot is like one step closer there. I think it hurts more to final table and then bust than it does to bust early or to min-cash because you feel so close. And if winning means something to you, then nothing hurts more than getting close and not getting there."
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Final Table Results:
1st: Bryce Yockey - $511,1471
2nd: Jeremy Joseph - $315,911
3rd: Josh Arieh - $216,077
4th: Chris Ferguson - $150,929
5th: Quentin Krueger - $107,709
6th: Christopher Roth - $78,569
7th: Ray Henson - $58,612
8th: Kate Hoang - $44,738