Los Angeles's Birman claims elite seven-card stud title in just his fourth-ever WSOP cash.
20 June 2018 (Las Vegas) – Los Angeles's Yaniv Birman has claimed gold in Event #38 of the 2018 World Series of Poker, $10,000 Seven Card Championship. Birman emerged from an elite 83-player field and topped a final table featuring four former WSOP bracelet winners to earn his own first coveted title.
Birman, 35, from the Westwood area of Los Angeles, earned $236,238 with the win. It's by far the largest payday of Birman's live-tournament career, and it far outpaced his prior winnings of $28,247 in three WSOP cashes.
Birman kept his final two foes from winning what would have been a third gold bracelet for each. Finishing second in this championship event was Massachusetts-born poker pro Jesse Martin. Martin, 38, widely known online under his “mazeorbowie” handle, previously won bracelets in 2013 and 2017 but settled for second-place money of $146,006 here.
Third-place went to another two-time bracelet winner, Ben Yu. Yu's previous bracelet wins came in 2015 and 2017, and his third-place showing here brought him a $99,540 score.
Finishing fourth for $69,928 while making his second final table of the 2018 WSOP was Las Vegas's Lee Salem. Chicago pro Matt Grapenthien continued a solid 2018 Series for that city's poker elite by taking fifth, for $50,669.
Birman is a full-time business owner and part-time poker player who acknowledged that stud games are his favorite. He seldom plays tournaments, though, instead focusing on the plentiful cash-game action in and around L.A.
Birman didn't quite rout the final table on his way to the win, but his aggressive play kept the pressure on his opponents and kept him near the top all day. As he told the WSOP, “I play aggressive. If they're going to play back at me, it is what it is, that's what I say. I'm probably going to fold, but I'd rather two- or three-bet it and see where I'm at. I feel more comfortable that way.'
Birman was full of respect for his tough final-table opponents, but didn't fear them. “There's no soft spot at this table. I know most of these guys from L.A.” There's also times when the cards themselves decide the matter, as happened when he reached the heads-up duel against Martin. Despite his ups and downs earlier in the day, Birman enjoyed a heads-up heater, quickly closing out the two-time bracelet winner Martin after starting the duel with just a narrow lead.
In the last hand, Martin had been trimmed all the way down to 50,000 in chips, and was all in with the completion on third street. Martin's board ran out / / , for just a pair of threes. Birman had / , but caught the on the river for the better, event-winning pair. It was the last in a length series of hands where Birman either spiked the winning card or held a big hand early, waiting for his opponents to catch up. As Birman noted, “The cards ran my way. They did the work for me.”
Whether this cash-gamer adds more tournament play in the future remains to be seen, but he will be back later this Series. He admitted, “I barely ever play tournaments; it was fun. I got here on Monday, and this was the first tournament I signed up to.” Indeed, immediately after his win, Birman was on the phone working on family obligations. “I might get back on Sunday.”
Day 3's finale in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship, which features ever-cycling rounds of (limit) Hold'em, Omaha hi-lo (eight-or-better), Razz, Seven-card stud, and Eight-or-better (hi-lo) seven-card stud began with an official final table of eight already set. Westwood, CA's Birman and Northborough, MA native Martin led the way, each starting with over 900,000 in chips, well ahead of the rest of the pack.
Form held early, as the day's three starting shortest stacks were also the first three players to bust. Norway native and current Texas resident Lars Gronning began on the shortest stack of all and exited about ninety minutes later in a hand against Joseph Cappello. Gronning was all in from the hand's start, and ended up with / / for two pair. Cappello, though, hit a better two pair right away and finished with / / . Gronning's short final-table stay was worth $23,443.
Cappello, from New Rochelle, NY, was also one of the early short stacks, and despite busting Gronning, he'd depart next. Cappello made his last stand in a hand against Martin, where Cappello was all in on fifth street and finished with / / for a pair of fives. Martin paired a hole-card ace to take the lead, and the aces held up as his hand finished / / . Cappello earned $29,306 for seventh.
One of Australia's star players, James Obst, fell in sixth. Obst won his first WSOP bracelet last year but couldn't match the feat here, collecting $37,904. Obst squared off against Ben Yu for the last of his 124,000 in chips, and was all in by fifth. Yu won the race to two pair, ending up with / / , while Obst whiffed on seventh street to bust, finishing with / / .
Chicago's Matt Grapenthein, a prior bracelet winner himself, bowed out in fifth for $50,669. Grapenthien exited in a hand where he was all in on third street against Yu after failing to make anything in hand where he started with / . Grapenthien ended up with just ace-high after catching / , while Yu started with buried fours that also failed to improve, but ended up good enough.
Fourth place cash of $69,928 went to Las Vegas's Lee Salem, who logged his second final table and fourth overall cash of the Series. Salem hung on the brink for some time before busting in a hand against Martin, when Salem was all in on third and pulled / / for one small pair. That fell easily to Martin's / / for trip threes.
Meanwhile, Birman climbed steadily throughout the day despite not being involved in any of the knockout hands. Birman held over half of all the chips in play as three-handed action began, with Yu taking his turn on the short stack, but doomed to run into one of Birman's many big hands.
Yu was all in for 420,000 on sixth street, and at that point held / , giving him a modest pair but plenty of outs to a solid two pair or better. Birman was showing , but had already gone perfect-perfect on fourth and fifth streets with his in the whole. Yu ended up needing to catch a queen on seventh, but caught the instead to hit the rail in third.
The hand kicked off Birman's closing heater, with the talented Martin proving no match for the cards that ran Birman's way in the brief heads-up battle.
Event #38, $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship, drew 83 entrants and offered a prize pool of $780,200. 13 players made the money, with these five cashing but missing the eight-player final: Al Barbieri (9th, $19,428), Todd Brunson (10th, $19,428), Perry Friedman (11th, $16,700), Nicholas Seiken (12th, $16,700), and Michael McKenna (13th, $14,910).
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Final Table Payouts (POY Points in Parentheses):
1st: Yaniv Birman, $236,238 (969.45)
2nd: Jesse Martin, $146,006 (484.73)
3rd: Ben Yu, $99,540 (436.25)
4th: Lee Salem, $69,928 (387.78)
5th: Matt Grapenthien, $50,669 (363.54)
6th: James Obst, $37,904 (339.31)
7th: Joseph Cappello, $29,306 (290.84)
8th: Lars Gronning, $23,443 (266.60)