Israeli native and Vegas pro Elezra tops 285-entry field in Event #20 triumph


10 June 2019 (Las Vegas) – Veteran poker professional Eli Elezra has earned the fourth World Series of Poker gold bracelet of his career by claiming the win in Event #20 at the 2019 WSOP, $1,500 Seven-Card Stud. Elezra's win in this four-day event was worth $93,766 and pushed his lifetime WSOP winnings over the $2 million mark.

This latest bracelet joins those won by Elezra in 2007, 2013, and in 2015, when he won this very same event.

Elezra topped a 285-entry field to win this tournament after beginning Day 4's finale in a virtual heads-up duel against another prior bracelet winner, Anthony Zinno. Elezra and Zinno began the final day well ahead of the other four Day 4 players, and within two hours of play, they began an hours-long duel for the title.

Zinno's runner-up performance was worth $57,951, giving the 37-year-old pro more than $2.7 million in lifetime WSOP earnings.

Twelve-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Valentin Vornicu finished in third in Event #20. Vornicu's deep run turned into a $39,380 payday.

One of the keys to Elezra's win was his surge that took him from a short stack of about 230,000 in chips to the lead in just a couple of hours of play. “Out of eight hands I made six straights,” he said. “And I picked up aces. Bling. Bling,” as the chips moved Elezra's way. “Once you make a straight against people who have two pair, you're going to make huge chips.”

After Elezra finished his Day 3 rush to take the lead, his outlook on the final changed. “[I was] very comfortable. I've seen more hands [of stud] than everyone who played with me, because I only play stud. I love stud. And stud loves me back."

Three of Elezra's four bracelets have come in stud or stud hi-lo events, and he credits most of that to pure experience. He said, “I'm from the old school; I've still got it here, I've still got a feeling about hands. That's when I know when to fold and when to fold it. I think in the end though I was lucky, because Anthony is a really good player.

“Zinno's one of the best players out there, but I told him he's short; I'm about 30 years above in him stud. He just started playing about five years ago.

Six players returned to a live-stream final on Monday on the Amazon Room's center stage. Seventh-place finisher Joshua Mountain ($10,920) and eight-place finisher Scott Seiver ($8,337) made this event's official final but busted just short of the live-streamed conclusion.

The six players offered an extreme chip distribution as play resumed. Three-time bracelet winner Eli Elezra had been near elimination late on Day 3 but mounted a furious rally that took him to over 1.2 million in chips and the lead, just ahead of another prior bracelet winner, Anthony Zinno. 12-time Circuit ring winner Valentin Vornicu began Day 4 a distant third, while the other three returning players – Phonghtep Thiptinnakon, Rep Porter, and David Singer – returned to just one or two big bets each.

As was the likeliest outcome, all three of the extreme short stacks busted in the day's first 40 minutes. Singer exited first, collecting sixth-place money of $14,619, when Vornicu made aces full to send him to the rail. Porter followed just a few hands later, riding an early pair of fives with his last chips but running squarely into Elezra's diamond flush, which left Porter with $19,996 for fifth.

Thiptinnakon tripled up early and lasted just a bit longer, but he was out minutes later as well. In his last hand, Thiptinnakon started with    /   but made only a pair of eights. Vornicu was in this hand as well with early high cards, but also failed to connect, until a   on seventh gave him the better single pair. Thiptinnakon earned $27,933 for fourth.

Vornicu gained some ground early as the three shortest-stacked players busted, but he came up short in his own effort to claim that long-sought first bracelet win. Down to just a single bet, he was forced all in with an   as up card. Elezra started with    /  , and though he never improved past the kings, that was enough. Vornicu missed both straight and flush draws, ending with    /      /  . The eights were no good, and Vornicu exited to a $39,830 cash.

Elezra entered heads-up play against Zinno with more than a 3:2 edge, then slowly ground down Zinno's stack before Zinno surged and moved into the lead, though only for a short while. Elezra's hands picked up again and Zinno entered an extended dry run of cards from which he couldn't recover.

In the last hand, Elezra had the bring-in with the   up, Zinno completed with the   showing, and Elezra called. Elezra pulled the   on fourth street, while Zinno caught the  , and the two traded raises until Zinno was all in. Both players had open-ended straight draws at that point, with Zinno's    /    ahead against Elezra's    /   . Elezra made his straight on fifth with the  , while Zinno bricked out the rest of the way –    /  , sealing Elezra's fourth win.

Event #20, $1,500 Seven-Card Stud, offered a $384,750 prize pool based on 285 entries. 43 players cashed and a min-cash was worth $2,262.

Other Notables:
Among those cashing in Event #20 were Barry Greenstein (14th, $4,264), Dvid Prociak, (15th, $3,565), Jean Gaspard (20th, $3,061), Julien Martini (27th, $2,696), Andrey Zhigalov (28th, $2,696), and Jeff Lisandro (31st, $2,696).

Click here for Full Results.
Click here for live updates from Event #20.

Final-Table Payouts:

1st: Eli Elezra, $93,766
2nd: Anthony Zinno, $57,951
3rd: Valentin Vornicu, $39,830
4th: Phonghtep Thiptinnakon, $27,933
5th: Rep Porter, $19,996
6th: David Singer, $14,619
7th: Joshua Mountain, $10,920
8th: Scott Seiver, $8,337