Hedge-fund manager Galen Hall earns gold bracelet and massive $888,888 payday in $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold'em 8-Handed


5 July 2018 (Las Vegas) – New York CIty's Galen Hall has earned his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet in Event #62 of the 2018 WSOP, $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold'em 8-Handed. The $888,888 winner's payday was by far the largest of Hall's career, pushing his career WSOP earnings over the million-dollar mark.

Hall, 33, a Stanford University graduate who juggles dual careers as a full-time hedge-fund manager and part-time poker pro, has now earned over $5 million in poker tourneys around the globe. 

Hall entered Thursday's originally unscheduled Day 4 with the lead and about 40% of the chips in play, and it took him less than three hours to close out the win. Hall's final foe was Riga, Latvia's Eduards Kudrjavcevs. Kudrjavcevs, 32, faced elimination early but outlasted Niels Herregodts to collect second-place money of $476,888. This was also the largest cash of Kudrjavcevs' WSOP career,

Belgium native Herregodts busted in third after losing two pre-flop all-in races during heads-up play, the first against Kudrjavcevs and the second, in the largest pot of the final, against Hall. Herregodts, though, has had a life-changing week in more than one way, Just five days ago, he married his fiancée, Oksana, here in Las Vegas. The two met in Bulgaria and now call Kiev, Ukraine their home, and they'll have Herregodts' third-place cash of $355,888 to help fund their new life.

Moscow, Russia's Andrey Zaichenko finished in fourth. Zaichenko, a prior bracelet winner, earned $266,888 to push his career WSOP winnings to more than $1.56 million. Latvia's Alexander Kuzmin, who also now lives in Moscow, earned $201,888 for fifth.

Hall led throughout Day 3's two and a half hours of play and finished off Herregodts and Kudrjavcevs in rapid succession. In the big hand against Herregodts, action began opening o 1.9 million from the button. Hall re-raised to 7.0 million from the big blind, and Herregodts paused only briefly before moving all in for 27.5 million. Hall called at once and showed    to Herregodts'   , and Hall won what was essentially a title-deciding race when the board came        .

That gave Hall 58 million in chips compared to Kudrjavcevs' 11 million, and the end came just six hands later. The final hand found Kudrjavcevs moving all in for 10.9 million with   , while Hall called with   . Kudrjavcevs never connected with the board while Hall eventually improved to a winning, nine-high straight, the complete board eventually showing        .

Hall shared a few minutes with friends and family, including his parents, John Hall and Nancy Lan, who drove in from Pasadena, CA, to see the finale. Hall had been visibly disappointed when he and the other two players ran into a hard stop late Tuesday night, but being able to have his parents present for his first bracelet win had to make up for much of it. Said Hall, "They live in Pasadena, where I grew up, and they drove in this morning just for this."

Hall's busy work and play schedules have kept him from playing a full WSOP slate. “I came here for a week earlier to play the $10K deuce [-to-seven], which is my favorite event,” he told the WSOP following his win. “Then I came back to play the $10K PLO-8, and then this tournament, and then the main.”

Hall is well known for having a plan of attack when he's at the table, and this final was no exception. As he said, “I thought both of the other players were a little on the tighter side, and I had the chip lead, and my ICM” – referring to chip-count equity and how it relates to payout positions and amounts – “was a little less than normal. There was a small third-to-second pay jump, but I thought it still mattered a reasonable amount. I was hoping that if one of them got short, then I could apply a lot of pressure to the other one. I planned to get a lot of chips from that, and then I generally planned to be aggressive.

“I thought I definitely had an edge today. On Tuesday, after a whole long day of play, it's just harder to switch things up. People are a little tired, and I thought I had a good read on what was going on. Today, I had to scale it back for the first 30 minutes or so to see – a lot of times players will get coaching, or they get rest, they change their style a little bit if there's time off. Luckily, I ran hot, so it didn't matter.”

Tuesday's Day 3 in Event #62 found 29 players returning in this year's largest-ever Crazy Eights event, with that $888,888 winner's payday waiting to be claimed. Halfway through the day's action that number had been reduced to eight, setting the official final table with Latvia's Eduards Kudrjavcevs leading the way.

Prior bracelet winner Phil Tom was the first to bust the final, on its very first hand. Las Vegas's Tom got his chips all in pre-flop against Kudrjavcevs in five-bet action, but found himself behind with    to Kudrjavcevs'   . The board ran out        , and Tom collected $90,888 for eighth.

Next out was Austria's Martin Stausholm, who claimed seventh-place cash of $117,888. Stausholm departed after clashing with Herregodts, with the majority of the chips going in after a [10c   flop. Stausholm led with    for top pair, but Herregodts had    for the open-ended straight draw. The   turn gave Herregodts a pair but left him behind, but the   river gave him the straight and the knockout.

Six-handed play lasted 15 hands until Jeremiah Miesen busted in cooler fashion. Miesen pocketed $153,888 after he ran pocket queens into Kudrjavcevs' pocket kings in a pre-flop raising war, and a         runout sealed his fate.

Five-handed action stretched much longer, nearly four dozen hands, ending when a short-stacked Kuzmin shoved all in for his last 5.6 million from the button with   . Hall called from the small blind with    and picked up the KO when the board brought        . Kuzmin, a native of Latvia now living in the Russian Federation, earned $201,888 here.

Another Russian pro, prior bracelet winner Zaichenko, had his deep run end in fourth in a major pot against Hall. The bustout hand found Hall opening to 1,000,000 million from the cutoff, Zaichenko calling, and the two seeing a     flop. Both players checked, and the turn was the  . Zaichenko then bet 1.5 million, Hall raised to 4.5 million, Zaichenko moved all in for about 13 million, and Hall called. Zaichenko showed    for two pair, but Hall opened    for the made flush. A blank   river meant Zaichenko was off to the cashier for a $266,888 payout.

The three survivors played for nearly another hour before play was halted for not one night, but two: The massive Day 1C starting flight of this year's Main Event absorbed every available poker table in the Rio, pushing the rest of the final to Thursday afternoon. Hall returned with the lead and a 30.1 million stack, while Herregodts had 24.7 million, and Kudrjavcevs 16.4 million. Kudrjavcevs was trimmed down to an even shorter amount before doubling up against Herregodts to stay alive, and then moved on to face Hall for the win after Herregodts lost an all-in race against Hall.

Event #62, $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold'em 8-Handed - $888,888 Guaranteed 1st Place drew a record field of 8,598 entrants, easily topping last year's 8,120-entry total. The record field produced a prize pool of $6,871,521. 458 players earned a payout, with a min-cash worth $2,702.

Other Notables:
Among those cashing in Event #62 were Shai Zurr (11th, $55,222), Men Nguyen (21st, $27,661), Chris Moorman (23rd, $27,661), Joey Weissman (27th, $22,292), Joshua Turner (29th, $22,292), Anthony Reategui (31st, $22,292), Ylon Schwartz (52nd, $12,200), Andreas Klatt (85th, $6,075), Steven Wolansky (86th, $6,075), Tyler Patterson (96th, $6,075), and Cody Pack (99th, $6,075).

Click here for Full Results.
Click here for live updates from Event #62.

Final Table Payouts (Approx. POY points in parentheses):

1st: Galen Hall, $888,888 (1,272)
2nd: Eduards Kudrjavcevs, $476,888 (636)
3rd: Niels Herregodts, $355,888 (573)
4th: Andrey Zaichenko, $266,888 (509)
5th: Alexander Kuzmin, $201,888 (477)
6th: Jeremiah Miesen, $153,888 (445)
7th: Martin Stausholm, $117,888 (382)
8th: Philip Tom, $90,888 (350)