Cash-game player Jeremy Harkin bests the tourney pros in Dealers Choice triumph

6 June 2018 (Las Vegas) – Damascus, Oregon's Jeremy Harkin has claimed victory in Event #12 of the 2018 World Series of Poker, $1,500 Dealers Choice 6-Handed. The win, the largest of Harkin's career, brought $129,882 and a debut bracelet way.

Harkin came to the final table with the lead and stayed at or near the top most of the way, though not without a tough fight against Frankie O'Dell and George Trigeorgis, his final two foes. O'Dell, a two-time winner in Omaha hi-lo events and a two-time WSOP Circuit champ as well, staved off elimination and surged to the lead during three-handed play before Harkin reassumed control.

O'Dell, like Harkin a Colorado native, pocketed $80,256 for his three days of play.

Finishing third in Wednesday night's finale was Trigeorgis, for $52,130. This was the second final table in a row for Trigeorgis, who placed fifth in Event #8: $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball.

Scottsdale, Arizona's Anthony Arvidson placed fourth, earning $34,700. As with Harkin, the cash was the largest of Arvidson's WSOP career.

Harkin's closing rush foiled O'Dell's comeback effort. Having ground down O'Dell's stack for a third time, Harkin ended it all in a hand of Big O, where the last of O'Dell's chips went in after a     flop. O'Dell showed      , while Harkin offered      . Harkin made two pair on the   turn, and the   river improved neither hand, giving Harkin the knockout and the win.

Harkin, calm and quiet at the table, opened up quite a bit in a post-win chat with the WSOP. Harkin, who's been playing poker “mostly full time” since 2004, came to the final table with the lead and threatened to make a rout of it, but his foes had other ideas. “I was trying to play good poker, stay relaxed, make good decisions, and not get frustrated. I was trying to have fun.”

Late action at the final table also saw each of the remaining players switching from format, looking for an edge. When asked where he thought his own edges were, Harkin said, “Not that I thought I had the biggest advantage, but I don't think anyone had a big advantage in pot-limit hi-lo. Most of the player

Harkin also admitted to being happy when O'Dell, late in the action, switched from stud games to Omaha hi-lo – this despite O'Dell having won two bracelets in Omaha hi-lo. It was instead a matter of Harkin getting from a possibly weaker format. “That's one of my stronger games, too,” said Harkin, and about the stud games he admitted, “I'm not used to playing stud short-handed.

Harkin also recognized Trigeorgis's relative strength in the draw games, which Trigeorgis always called, illustrating the event's key: It's about relative edges across multiple formats instead of exceptional skill in just a couple of games.

The Event 12 champ wasn't expecting to log this breakthrough win. “I've been coming down here every year since 2003, and there's been people who've been coming down here who've had a lot more success than me, because I'm mostly a cash-game player. Tournaments are so different, and I basically gave up on winning a bracelet last year.”

Instead, Harkin opted for just a handful of multiple-day trips to Vegas for 2018, with unintended consequences: He was scheduled to fly out on Wednesday night, but managed to get a change to an early-morning seat. He'll return for some Omaha events later in the series, but this time, as a bracelet winner.

He also noted that he made his biggest strides forward early on Day 3, when he was at a ferocious table that included John Hennigan, Mike Leah, Chris Klodnicki and Jeff Lisandro. “They play way-high cash games, and I'm never going to be able to play with them.” Yet Harkin didn't play weak and tight, as an amateur might have done, and he went from a middlish stack to the lead at that fierce table.

This Dealer's Choice event's final table formed midway through Wednesday's Day 3, following the elimination of four-time bracelet winner “Johnny World” Hennigan in seventh. Hennigan's $11,930 cash here marked his deepest run in a WSOP event since his two bracelet wins in 2016.

Henderson, Nevada's Scott Abrams bowed out next, an hour into final-table play, during a round of seven-card stud. Abrams was all in against Trigeorgis after the first round of bets, with both players having split pairs. The two players' hands ran out as follows, with Abrams never improving while Trigeorgis made a full house:

Abrams –    /      /  
Trigeorgis –    /      /  

Abrams' sixth-place finish was worth $16,589.

Roughly 30 minutes later, actor James Woods hit the rail. Woods, who noted for his WSOP bio that he was Rhode Island's cha-cha champion at age 12, danced his way to his second WSOP final table but came up short here. Woods' ouster came in a round of deuce-to-seven pot-limit triple draw, when he was just edged out in a large pot by Harkin. In the hand, Harkin filled a 9-6-5-4-2 low on his second draw and held pat on his third draw, while Woods stayed pat on his final two draws, then turned up a just-worse 9-low to bust. Woods earned $23,686 for the deep run.

Four-player action extended for over three hours before Anthony Arvidson busted in fourth. Arvidson, from Scottsdale, Arizona, collected $34,700 for his work after bowing out in another hand of deuce-to-seven pot-limit triple draw. Harkin delivered this knockout as well, staying pat on a 10-6-5-4-3 for his final draw. Arvidson drew one to 7-5-3-2 hand, but paired his three to bust.

That left three, and soon after, it was Trigeorgis's turn. The game was again deuce-to-seven pot-limit triple draw, with all three players in for Trigeorgis's roughly 340,000 in chips before the first draw. Harkin and O'Dell checked it down through three rounds of draws, and O'Dell made the best hand of the three, an 8-6-4-3-2 that was just better than Trigeorgis's 8-6-5-4-2.

Heads-up play began with O'Dell holding a narrow lead. Harkin then won several medium-sized pots to take a 3:1 edge, before O'Dell doubled up in a hand of Omaha hi-lo to square the duel.

Event #12 built a prize pool of $548,100 based on 406 total entries. The top 61 players earned a cash, with a mini-cash here worth $2,263. The “Dealer's Choice” format allows each player, in turn to select a game to be played for one full round of play at the tables. Players can choose a game from an extensive list of 20 poker variants: No-Limit Hold’em; Limit Hold’em; Razz; Seven Card Stud; Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better; Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Regular; Pot-Limit Hold’em; Pot-Limit Omaha; Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better; Pot-Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw; Big O; Limit Omaha High; Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better; Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw; Ace to 5 Lowball Triple Draw; Badugi; Badeucy; Badacy; No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw; and No-Limit 5-Card Draw High.

Other Notables:
Among those making Day 3 in Event #12 but falling short of the final table were Chris Klodnicki (9th, $8,815), Mike Leah (10th, $8,815), Jeffrey Lisandro (11th, $6,698), Chris Bolek (12th, $6,698), and Chris Vitch (13th, $5,238). Among those eliminated late in Day 2 action were Shirley Rosario (16th, $5,238), Josh Arieh (23rd, $4,219), Layne Flack (25th, $3,503), Tony Cousineau (28th, $3,503), Ben Yu (29th, $3,503), Brett Jungblut (35th, $3,002), and Mike Sexton (37th, $2,657).

Click here for Full Results.
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Final Table Payouts (POY points in parentheses):

1st: Jeremy Harkin, $129,882 (927.59)
2nd: Frankie O'Dell, $80,256 (463.80)
3rd: George Trigeorgis, $52,130 (417.42)
4th: Anthony Arvidson, $34,700 (371.04)
5th: James Woods, $23,686 (347.85)
6th: Scott Abrams, $16,589 (324.66)