Jay Kwon earns first bracelet and $125,431 at first WSOP final table
Las Vegas, NV (June 26, 2018) - There aren’t many of them, but Jay Kwon considers himself a ‘razz specialist.’ The razz specialist came out on top of the $1,500 razz on Tuesday night.
Just before the clock struck midnight, Kwon earned his first World Series of Poker bracelet by topping a field of 389 entries and taking home $125,431.
“You know, it’s like my favorite game,” said Kwon. “And I feel like it’s an underappreciated game and people get frustrated at it. But I love the game and yeah, this means more to me than a lot of other tournaments, I guess.”
Kwon took to the game, almost exclusively, online pre-black Friday. He spent countless hours on the virtual felt learning the game, both on the table and in discussing strategy in online forums.
“I just started playing it and it was just really interesting, so I kind of got into and just started playing it a lot,” said Kwon. “I’m somewhat of a razz specialist.”
In a post-Black Friday world, all Kwon’s razz dreams are hinged on a deep run in one of the summer’s two razz events. With a busy personal life, Kwon doesn’t always get a chance to fire one of the two events, but this year, he found some time to get out to Vegas, and it worked out for him.
“I came here on Saturday on a whim,” said Kwon. “I took my CFA level 1 test on Saturday and then I just wanted a break and some of my friends were here playing the razz events, so I came here just to play this event … I’m one-for-one.”
Kwon is one-for-one in this year’s razz event and is also one-for-one at finishing off final tables. It was just his fourth WSOP cash and his first final table. It was a new environment for the Massachusetts native, both at a WSOP final table and playing live razz.
With most of his experience coming on the internet, he was a little nervous about exhibiting physical tells that could be picked up by some of the more experienced live pros at the table.
“I mean, because I’m not like a live player, I was kind of worried about giving off tells,” said Kwon. “People do things that you don’t see online, like dark betting on the river. You don’t see that online. It’s just like a timing tell or whatever. And, you know, I’m not a live pro, so I feel like all my tells are on my face and the way I act.”
As far as the actual final table was concerned, Kwon was confident in his experience to carry him to a title.
“I was pretty confident because, honestly, I’ve played three-handed, I’ve played heads-up, I’ve played sit n’ goes, and these types of tournament structures,” said Kwon. “After Black Friday, I didn’t play, I played maybe very few hands of razz, but things started coming back after I started playing again. You don’t remember the subtle nuances. I was worried about that part. It was weird. It was like riding a bike.”
At the start of the day, there were nine players remaining at the unofficial final table of nine with Kwon sitting in the middle of the pack. Kyle Montgomery busted in ninth and the final eight players were credited with making the final table.
Shortly after Montgomery busted, the lone female at the final table hit the rail. Jeanne David got all in on third street against Adam Owen and Jeff Mitseff. Mitseff folded on fourth street, leaving Owen heads-up with David.
By the river, Owen made a 10-six low and David was drawing dead, only being able to improve to a queen-low.
Mitseff was the short stack after David busted and he followed her to the payout cage at the beginning of the next level.
Mitseff busted to Kwon when he was all in on third street against several other players. After fourth street, most of the field folded and Mitseff was heads-up against Kwon. Kwon rivered a queen-eight low and bested Mitseff’s king-jack low to leave the table six-handed.
Kwon chipped up with the knockout, but six-handed play saw Owen dominate the table and move into the chip lead. The British pro was the first player to cross over the million-chip mark.
Dzmitry Urbanovich was right behind Owen after eliminating Thomas Taylor in sixth. Taylor was all in on fourth street with four to a queen-low against Urbanovich’s four to a nine-low. Urbanovich improved to a seven-low on sixth street and Taylor was drawing thin. He ended up with a jack-low by the river and was gone in sixth.
Owen eliminated Kevin Iacofano in fifth which put some serious distance between him and the rest of the field. At the outset of four-handed play, Owen sat with 1,689,000 and Ubranovich with 916,000, while Kwon and Michael McKenna were with 197,000 and 114,000, respectively.
With Kwon staring at a massive chip deficit, he didn’t worry about outlasting McKenna. His sights were set on the top prize.
“I mean, the tournament structure is so top heavy,” said Kwon. “So, I’m not trying to outlast and move up one place because there was another guy that had a little bit less than me. Because it’s so top heavy, the optimal strategy is to just go for the win … I could wait for a good hand as I ante down and then go with it and just play good razz.”
Playing good razz was exactly what he did. He busted McKenna in fourth and chipped up by the elimination of the other short stack. After that, the run to the top began. He won the majority of the pots over the next 90 minutes and he went on the 60-minute dinner break with the chip lead, while Owen dropped to the bottom of the pack.
Owen came back with just a couple big bets remaining and busted in third. He was all in on third street with against Kwon’s . Kwon ended up with an eight-seven low and Owen made a 10-seven.
Owen busted in third and Kwon took the chip lead into heads-up play against Urbanovich.
Heads-up play lasted for about an hour with the lead changing hands a couple times before Kwon pulled away. He finished off Urbanovich when his nine-seven low bested Urbanovich’s jack-seven.
Final Table Results:
1st: Jay Kwon - $125,431
2nd: Dzmitry Urbanovich - $77,526
3rd: Adam Owen - $52,536
4th: Michael McKenna - $36,324
5th: Kevin Iacofano - $25,637
6th: Thomas Taylor - $18,477
7th: Jeffrey Mitseff - $13,605
8th: Jeanne David - $10,240
Relive the action with the live updates