Fourty-Year-Old Poker Pro Jonas Wexler ran good when it mattered and was able to take down the Harrah's Cherokee Main Event for $300,536.
Cherokee, North Carolina (April 22, 2019) -- Jonas Wexler said he never had a moment when he felt like he could win the Harrah's Cherokee Main Event. Not when he won a four-way all in with kings late on Day 2. Not when he won a three-way all in to avoid coming in eighth place. Not when he came into heads up play. It was never a sure thing for Wexler.
"I never think I'm gonna win," Wexler said laughing with a smile. "I've been playing for so long and just felt like I don't break through. I try not to think about the end result either, but in my mind I always think something shitty is gonna happen. Fortunately today I did some shitty things to other people."
And Wexler did get a little lucky to win the event of course, holding when it mattered, getting lucky when it matter and in the end, winning the races to make him the champion of the Harrah's Cherokee Main Event.
Take for example Wexler's crucial hand from Day 2 of the event. In the hand, T.K. Miles moved all in from the hijack seat and he was called by Hunter Pappas. Wexler then moved all in with a covering stack on the rest of the players and Danny Wilson called in the small blind. Action was back on Pappas with chips behind, but before he could act, Wexler turned up his pocket kings, revealing his hand. This put Pappas to the test and despite being behind, Pappas didn't think he could fold and called with ace-king.
Miles was holding pocket sixes, Wilson was holding pocket queens, Pappas had one over with his ace-king, but Wexler led them all with his kings. They held up as the board ran out jack-high and with that, Wexler was all of a sudden the chip leader in the tournament with over five million chips.
"Kings have been the hand that's tortured me the most in my poker career, so," Wexler explained. "I didn't even know what... I was in shock. Obviously, that's why I exposed my hand early. That hand was just crazy,"
Wexler would finish Day 2 second in chips and he and Phil Hernz, the eventual runner-up, did much of the dirty work at the final table, eliminating multiple players between the two of them. Action started off with a bang as Hernz and Thomas Minnich-Weber played a massive pot with aces against kings. Hernz's aces would hold up to send Minnich-Weber home as the 10th place finisher. And during this time, Wexler would fall to the shortest stack, doubling up Amy Patel early in the day.
It was around then where things would take a turn for Wexler. He moved all in over an open from from Spencer Champlin only to have both Adam Gunn and Amy Patel wake up with monsters behind him. Wexler was in big trouble with ace-king against the kings of Patel and jacks of Gunn, but an ace in the window would put Wexler in the lead, allowing him to take out Gunn and double through Patel at the same time. This would put him back to around where he started the day, just under five million chips.
Noah Sherfin would be the next to fall, losing a race with king-queen to the ace-eight of Drew McIlvain. Shortly after, the start of the day chip leader Dennis Brand would lose a monster pot to Spencer Champlin and be eliminated shortly after. Wexler sent home Brand when Brand moved all in with nine-eight offsuit. Wexler had set a trap with pocket queens and he called quickly. Brand didn't catch up and Wexler pulled right into second place.
Drew McIlvain dropped in sixth place when he moved all in preflop with six-four offsuit over a raise from Wexler. Wexler was holding ace-ten though and he quickly made the call. McIlvain couldn't find help and he was finished off. Wexler also finished off Amy Patel as well in fifth place. Patel three-bet shoved over Wexler's open, but once again he was holding the goods with pocket tens and he held up to send another player to the rail.
Phil Hernz would send home Steven Grybas in fourth place shortly after. Grybas moved all in from the button with pocket sixes but Hernz was sitting in the small blind with pocket nines. The flop, turn, and river didn't contain a six or anything else for Grybas so he hit the rail, bringing the field to three.
Spencer Champlin would lose two massive pots to Hernz before eventually falling in third place. In his final hand, Champlin shoved over an open from Wexler, but again, Wexler had the best of it. He quickly called with pocket kings and faded against Champlin's ace-jack.
Despite having a majority of the knockouts, it was Hernz, not Wexler who came into heads-up play as the chip leader. Wexler remained confident that he had the edge in the match up.
"I felt like the momentum was pretty neutral," Wexler explained. "But I thought I had the edge because I play online a lot. I live in New Jersey, so I grind the New Jersey sites. I've been playing tournaments three or four days a week for the last two years so I'm sure I have a ton more heads-up experience and final table experience. I feel like it showed heads-up. I was able to manipulate and do what I needed to do to get the win."
And it did go quick for Wexler who doubled up early in the match with pocket jacks against king-ten on a ten-high board. He quickly grinded Hernz down to just a short stack and it wasn't long after that he locked up the win. In the final hand, Hernz moved all in with ace-deuce off, but Wexler held pocket sixes. The flop held a six and Hernz was drawing dead on the turn.
With that, Wexler won the Harrah's Cherokee Main Event and he'll take home $300,536 as well as a seat in the Global Casino Championship. Wexler said he's excited to play in the GCC, but hasn't had much luck with the higher buy-in events just yet.
"I'm 0 for 10 in the World Series Main Event," Wexler said, but explained that he was excited nonetheless to be able to freeroll a chance at a bracelet in August.
This is Wexler's second ring with the first coming in a side event 2011 at Harrah's Philadelphia. Wexler said this was his largest live score to date.
A full list of results for this event can be found here.
To take a look at Wexler's journey to the title, click here for the live updates blog.