25-year-old Indian poker pro Iyer wins first WSOP gold bracelet


15 July 2019 (Las Vegas) – Mumbai, India's Abhinav Iyer has earned his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet by triumphing in Event #84 of the 2019 WSOP, “The Closer” - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em.

Iyer, 25, collected a career-best $565,346 for the win over a giant 2,800-entry field in this turbo-styled event that played out over just two days. Each of this event's levels lasted just 30 minutes, compared to the 60-minute levels in typical WSOP bracelet events.

Iyer rolled over the final table on the way to his breakthrough win. His final opponent was Canada's Sammy Lafleur, who settled for a $349,417 payday.

Third place in “The Closer” went to Spanish national Sergio Marti Aguilar. Aguilar, who now lives in and plays poker from London, England, earned $256,298.

Taiwan's Carlos Chang finished in fourth for $189,584, while California's Patrick Eskandar placed fifth for $141,432.

The 25-year-old Iyer is one of an emerging population of tough India-based poker pros, where the game is rapidly expanding in popularity. Iyer admitted both running well and taking all the betting spots he could find in this fast-paced event, which forces players to mix it up early and often rather than waiting back for the ideal situations. Iyer showed that in particular at the final table, where he routed his remaining foes on the way to a no-doubt win.

“I won crucial pots at the right time,” Iyer acknowledged. He also felt he caught some fortunate table draws that allowed him to grow his stack as well. “Luckily my table on Day 1 was pretty good, and also my table starting today was relatively good. I came into [Day 2] with over 50 big blinds so I knew I could maneuver my stack.”

Iyer was also thrilled to be able to take another WSOP bracelet back to India. It''s not the country's first bracelet – it's the fourth – but it's still an important achievement to advance poker in one of the world's most populous countries.

“It is a booming market,” he said. “Now more and more people are getting into poker as well, including [online] poker sites. I hope this can enhance the growth of the World Series [in India]. Like now, Indians are turning out more and more, every passing year. Hopefully this brings a lot of people out and we get more results.”

Day 2 in this turbo-paced event began with 196 players still with chips, but that was whittled all the way down to a nine-player final by early evening. The rapid pace of bustouts continued at the final table, beginning with Jason Reels, who busted when he got the last of his chips in with    but was called by Iyer, who had    and plenty of chips. A         runout left Iyer and front and sent Reels to collect $47,758 for ninth.

Eighth and $61,834 went to Korea's Steve Yea soon after. Yea got the worst of a virtual race against Adam Johnson when Yea's    couldn't connect against Johnson's   . Aan         board left Johnson in front while trimming the field to seven.

Vegas pro Shaun Deeb, the most acclaimed player to make the final, busted in seventh for $80,766. A short-stacked Deeb made his last stand in a battle of the blinds against Aguiar, but his    started behind Aguilar's    and never caught up on a         runout.

Kansas City's Adam Johnson busted in sixth for $106,418 just one hand later. Johnson moved all in with   , but Lafleur called with   . A     flop moved Lafleur well ahead, and a   turn and   river confirmed another bustout.

California's Eskandar hit the rail in fifth for $141,432 just three hands later. Eskandar and Lafleur swapped pre-flop raises until Eskandar was all in, but he was in trouble with    against Lafleur's    and never caught up on an all-small         board that gave both players a rivered flush but left Lafleur ahead.

The rush of bustouts stabilized somewhat with four players remaining. 22 hands elapsed before Taiwan's Chang exited to a $189,584 fourth-place payout. A relatively short-stacked Chang committed himself pre-flop in a hand against Lafleur, but his    needed help against Lafleur's   . Instead, Lafleur caught the help, making top two pair by the time the         board was complete.

Iyer moved into the lead during three-handed action with a big double-through against Aguilar that left Aguilar short, and Lafleur picked up another knockout soon after. Aguilar got his last chips in with    to Lafleur's   , but Lafleur's hand stayed ahead as both players whiffed on a         runout, and the event was down to its final two.

Iyer's earlier double had given him a sizeable lead, and he expanded it against Lafleur as their closing duel began. Two dozen hands saw Lafleur's stack whittled to near nothing, and an all-in last hand turned out to be a race: Iyer's    against Lafleur's   . A     flop left Lafleur ahead, but a   turn moved Iyer ahead and left Lafleur with just a two-out redraw. Instead, a   river concluded the hand and gave the pot and the event to Iyer.

Event #84, The Closer - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em, drew 2,800 entries and built a $3,780,000 prize pool. 196 players cashed and a min-cash was worth $3,500.

Others who collected a payday in this event included JC Tran (10th, $37,215), Rex Clinkscale (15th, $29,260), Ryan Leng (18th, $23,214), Jonathan Tamayo (20th, $18,586), Maxwell Young (26th, $18,586), Jeff Gross (32nd, $15,018), Dylan Linde (52nd, $10,083), Ralph Perry (53rd, $10,083), Ari Engel (55th, $8,379), and Mike Sexton (61st, $8,379).

Click here for Full Results.
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Final-Table Payouts:

1st: Abhinav Iyer, $565,346
2nd: Sammy Lafleur, $349,417
3rd: Sergio Marti Aguilar, $256,298
4th: Carlos Chang, $189,584
5th: Patrick Eskandar, $141,432
6th: Adam Johnson, $106,418
7th: Shaun Deeb, $80,766
8th: Steve Yea, $61,834
9th: Jason Reels, $47,758