28 June 2018 (Las Vegas) – Ryan Leng became the latest World Series of Poker bracelet winner Thursday afternoon after winning Event #51: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Bounty. He earns $272,765 for the victory. It was the first bracelet for Leng, and the biggest cash of his WSOP career.
"It’s amazing. It’s just so much fun. Yesterday and today, it was such a whirlwind. I was chip leader, I was short stacked, then I was the chip leader again. I played against some very tough opponents. [Ranno] Sootla, the guy I got heads-up with, is one of the toughest players I’ve ever played against. It’s a lot of fun to have to go through someone that good to win my first bracelet."
This is Sootla's first WSOP cash, and it was nearly a historic occasion. Sootla hails from Estonia, an no Estonian has ever won a bracelet. Only Leng stood in the way on Sootla becoming the first.
Leng had a boisterous rail that included several other successful players, his girlfriend, and perhaps most importantly, his mother. She was actually supposed to come to Vegas a few days ago to join her son in the tag team event, but something came up and she wasn't able to make it. However, when the bounty tournament ended up going to an unscheduled fourth day and Leng was still in the hunt, she flew out to cheer him on. Leng said he's giving the bracelet to her - she gets all his poker trophies.
Leng is not only a successful player. He also coaches poker. "It’s amazing," he said of the coaching experience. "It’s forced me to analyze my own game. I still get coaching, too. Talking poker with these brilliant players is absolutely invaluable. I have a lot of really talented students. They’ll play hands in interested, creative ways that I didn’t think about. So as much as I’m coaching them, I’m still learning from them."
When asked what comes next for him, Leng's poker work ethic really showed. "I’m just going to keep working hard,"' he said. "I hope this isn’t my first and only bracelet." He added that he'd like to improve his skill in mixed games, and one day challenge for WSOP player of the year.
The event drew a total of 1,983 entries. And players earned a $500 bounty for each opponent they eliminated. The total prize pool, including the bounties, came to $2,677,050.
Wednesday was originally scheduled to be the event’s final day. Play resumed at noon, but with 29 players left, the tournament ran to an unscheduled fourth day on Thursday.
Christian Nolte, of Austria, was the first player eliminated on the final day. He busted out about 40 minutes into Day 4 when he lost a flip against Ranno Sootla. That put Sootla in the lead with about half the chips in play as three-handed play began. Nolte finished in fourth place for $89,151.
Jay Farber was the second elimination of the day when his ace-nine ran into Ryan Leng's ace-ten. Both players missed the board, Leng's ten played, and Farber was out in third place for $131,932. Farber is most famous in the poker world for his runner-up finish in the 2013 WSOP Main Event, and he was unable to improve on that finish today.
Leng had already taken the lead before he eliminated Farber, and he pulled further ahead to start heads-up play with nearly a 2-1 lead (about 9.8 million in chips to about 5 million for Ranno Sootla). But after about 40 minutes, Sootla doubled up to virtually reverse the stacks. But by the first official break, Leng had recovered a bit, and the stacks were virtually even. Then after a little more than three hours of play on Thursday, Sootla was all in on the flop with a set against Leng's straight. The straight held, and Leng was officially the champion.
The 1,983 player field was down to 29 players at the beginning of Day 3 on Wednesday. They merged to one table just before 9 p.m. Wednesday night, with three levels left in the day’s schedule. Quyen Hoang busted to Ryan Leng about 15 minutes after that, leaving the final nine players at a final table.
Those nine players played 17 hands, finished out the level and took their final break of the night. They returned to bust five more players before the final four bagged up chips for the night.
On the first hand back from break, Mikhail Semin busted to Ranno Sootla. Semin moved all in with pocket sevens and ran into Sootla’s pocket jacks. Sootla flopped a full house which removed any realistic sweat Semin had at surviving.
About an orbit later, Mark Mazza hit the rail at the hands of Leng. They got all the chips in the middle on a queen-high flop with Mazza’s ace-queen in trouble against Leng’s pocket aces. Mazza didn’t hit a two-outer and busted in eighth, which put Leng just shy of 5 million in chips, extending his chip lead over the six other players remaining.
Sootla and Leng were the stories of the Day 3 final table action, they nearly traded knockout for knockout with Sootla sending John Gulino to the rail in seventh. They were all in on the turn. Both players held top pair with their kicker not in play, but Sootla picked up the nut flush draw to go with it.
A spade came on the river to give Sootla the nut flush and eliminate Gulino, moving Sootla just behind Leng in the chip counts, ultimately where they would finish the day.
The only Day 3 final table elimination that didn’t come from one of those two was Christian Nolte’s elimination of Russell Rosenblum in sixth. All the chips got in the middle preflop with Rosenblum’s king-jack dominated by Nolte’s ace-king. Rosenblum couldn’t pull off the upset and was gone just before the end of an action-packed level.
40 hands into the final table, nearly half of it was gone, and all the eliminations happened in a 22-hand stretch.
After a level that had three eliminations, only Javier Gomez busted in the last level of the day. It was on the last hand of the day and were all in preflop with Leng’s ace-queen against Gomez’s ace-jack. The runout sent the pot to Leng and put the chips of the final four players in bags.
Then on Thursday, it was just over three hours of play before Leng sealed the deal and earned his first bracelet.
Here are the final table results. Click here for FULL RESULTS or here for LIVE UPDATES from the event.
1 – Ryan Leng – $272,765
2 – Ranno Sootla – $168,464
3 – Jay Farber – $121,932
4 – Christian Nolte – $89,151
5 – Javier Gomez - $65,851
6 – Russell Rosenblum - $49,146
7 – John Gulino - $37,063
8 – Mark Mazza - $28,247
9 – Mikhail Semin - $21,759