Arizona's Bechtel sets new mark for longest span between bracelet triumphs

11 June 2019 (Las Vegas) – Gilbert, Arizona's Jim Bechtel has won his second career World Series of Poker gold bracelet by taking down Event #21 at the 2019 WSOP, $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw. Bechtel's win in this event over an elite 91-entry field was worth $253,815.

In winning, the 1993 WSOP Main Event also established a new WSOP mark for the longest span between bracelet victories, at 26 years. That tops the 24-year span that elapsed between the second and third bracelet triumphs, in 1982 and 2006, respectively, recorded by the late David “Chip” Reese.

The 67-year-old Bechtel came from behind during heads-up play against another poker veteran, Birmingham, Alabama's Vince Musso. Musso, 77, has played in occasional WSOP events dating all the way back to the 1970's. All five of Musso's previous WSOP cashes also came in no-limit deuce-to-seven events, though this result, worth $156,872, is the largest live-event payday of Musso's career.

Well-known live and online pro Darren Elias finished third in this event, earning $109,738. Elias, a native of Boston who now lives in Philadelphia, remains one of the highest-regarded poker professionals who has yet to claim WSOP gold.

Prior bracelet winners Prahlad Friedman and Jean-Robert Bellande, along with Brazil's Pedro Bromfman, rounded out the official final-table spots.

It was more unlikely than a casual observer might realize for Bechtel to win this event, and in doing so, top Reese's longevity-based record. The reason is simple: Bechtel no longer plays many WSOP events. “It's only the second [tournament] I've played here in the last four or five years,” he said shortly after his win. “The last one I played was the $10,000 [main event], and I won $27,000, and that was four or five years ago. I don't hardly play any,” he added, about how often he sits at a poker table these days.

The victory also represented a triumph for the old lions of poker against the young turks. Bechtel had only played previously against Musso in this format, and that was years earlier. Still, Bechtel was quick to emphasis his belief that single-draw deuce-to-seven represents poker in its purest form.

“I like deuce-to-seven best. It's my favorite game. It's the toughest true poker game.” Later, he expanded on that, saying, “It's much more complicated than a lot of the other games where the math comes in so much. This game, it's the read of the player. It's so difficult to make a hand; you rarely make a hand. Most hands, somebody's bluffing, or somebody's calling a bluff. … That's what makes it the greatest poker game.”

As for topping Poker Hall of Famer Reese's mark, Bechtel was of two minds; he laughed and said, “I don't know if that's a real good record! You know, it's not very easy to be the youngest guy to win a bracelet, or being the oldest between bracelets. But I'm happy to have it, let's put it that way.”

Bechtel remains undecided as to how much he'll play in the future. “I don't know, I may not come back this [series]. I might play the $10,000 [main event] at the end, and I might not.”

Seven players returned to battle for the win on a live-streamed Day 3, with Jean-Robert Bellande starting the day in the lead. Three-time bracelet winner Paul Volpe began the day in a strong third-place spot, but he ran into a tough stretch and busted two hours into the day's action. Volpe's last hand found him moving all in for 234,000 over an Elias 40,000 open, and after Elias called, Volpe stood pat while Elias drew one. Volpe had      , and he was a slight favorite against Elias's     . Volpe, though, caught a   to send Volpe to the cashier for a $31,556 payout. Volpe's bustout set the official six-player final.

Brazil's Pedro Bromfman logged his first WSOP final table but busted in sixth for $41,897. Bromfman whose only previous WSOP cash came in the 2016 Main Event, got his last chips in ahead against Prahlad Friedman but couldn't hit a draw. Both players pulled one card, but the all-in Bromfman caught a   to pair his      start, while the   that Friedman caught to go along with his own      was just good enough for the knockout.

Bellande's hopes for a second bracelet in as many years ran aground when he busted this final in fifth. His last hand began with Bechtel opening for 70,000, Bellande moving all in for 380,000, and Bechtel calling. Bechtel drew one while Bellande stood pat and opened a      . Bechtel showed his     , then turned over his draw card, a  , for a just-better jack-eight. Bellande earned $56,693 for the fifth-place effort.

Four-handed action saw the lead change hands multiple times before another prior bracelet winner, Friedman, also busted. Friedman's exit came when he jammed all in over a Darren Elias open, only to have Elias quickly call and stand pat. Friedman drew one to a      but he was already drawing dead, as Elias turned over a pat wheel,      , which Friedman had no chance to match. He shook hands with the remaining players and went to collect his $78,157 cash.

That knockout represented Elias's high-water mark, as Musso surged and moved into the lead after doubling through Elias in one of the final's largest hands. Eventually, Elias clashed with Bechtel in another big pot, and he failed to connect when drawing one while Bechtel stood pat with      . Elias had     , but he paired his nine and bowed out in third for $109,738.

Musso began heads-up play with about a 3:2 edge over Bechtel, and in the duel's first hands, he gained more ground and appeared about to seal the win. Instead, Bechtel clawed back, then doubled through to the lead. Soon after, the deciding hand played out. Musso opened for 200,000 and Bechtel moved all in, having Musso covered by about 2:1 at that point. Musso pondered, then called. Bechtel drew one and Musso stood pat, then showed Bechtel his      . Bechtel had     , and he turned over his drawn card. It was the  , sealing the mark-setting win.

Event #21, $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw, drew 91 entries to create an $855,400 prize pool. 14 entrants cashed, with a min-cash worth $15,167.

Also cashing in this event were Galen Hall (8th, $24,232), Ajay Chabra (9th, $18,979), Majid Yahyaei (10th, $18,979), Julien Martini (11th, $18,979), Dan Shak (12th, $15,167), Mike Watson (13th, $15,167), and Alex Balandin (14th, $15,167).

Click here for Full Results.
Click here for live updates from Event #21.

Final-Table Payouts:

1st: Jim Bechtel, $253,817
2nd: Vince Musso, $156,872
3rd: Darren Elias, $109,738
4th: Prahlad Friedman, $78,157
5th: Jean-Robert Bellande, $56,693
6th: Pedro Bromfman, $41,897