Colorado's Blake earns first bracelet with win in special Super Seniors event

20 June 2019 (Las Vegas) – Colorado's Michael Blake has earned his first career World Series of Poker gold bracelet by taking down Event #39 at the 2019 WSOP, $1,000 Super Seniors No-Limit Hold'em.

Blake, 71, outlasted a 2,650-entry field in this special event at the WSOP, which was open only to players aged 60 and up. Blake's $359,863 winner's payday was nearly 100 times as much as the $3,932 he'd collected in two previous cashes, which occurred in the 2017 and 2018 WSOP Super Seniors events.

Blake's win denied a third career WSOP bracelet to Las Vegas's Barry Shulman, the owner of a prominent poker media outlet. Shulman, 73, who won the 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event, earned $222,295 for the runner-up showing in this tourney, moving his lifetime WSOP earnings over the $2 million mark.

Third place in the Super Seniors went to Sun Valley, Nevada's Cary Marshall, who led much of the way in this final before faltering late. Marshall earned $162,538 for his efforts.

Los Angeles's Timothy Joseph placed fourth, earning $119,888, while Lansdale, Pennsylvania's Rick Austin collected $89,217 for finishing fifth.

Blake, who lives in the far north suburbs of Denver, has only ever played in three events at the WSOP – the Super Seniors tourneys in 2017, 2018, and 2019. He's cashed in all three, including this life-alerting payday. “It's the third time I've played in it. I'm an old guy, I've played poker for most of my life, and I feel very fortunate,” he said.

Blake also recognized the task of beating the high-profile Shulman, his final foe. “I think Barry's a very strong player, and I feel very, very fortunate.” The tourney ended when Blake flopped the top two pair on a not-very-scary board; Shulman made flush and open-ended straight draws on the turn and moved all in, with Blake calling, but a blank river card left Shulman busted.

He also credited his home-town poker game for sharpening his poker skills. “There is a group of fellow in what they call Anthem Ranch. It's an excellent, excellent game, and I have to be honest: Most of my poker was not hold'em poker.” Blake then described another home game in New Mexico he often frequented which included two jokers in its most-played variant. “So the game at Anthem Ranch has really helped me.

“So hold'em was something new to me over the past two to three years. I always understood that I would come to Vegas and play it, day in and day out. There was a gentleman, Dave Burritt, who runs the game at Anthem Ranch, who's really improved my game.” Blake mentioned Burritt a second time as a home-game friend whose support really made a difference in making Blake's hold'em game competitive on the WSOP scene.

An unofficial final table of ten players returned for an unscheduled Day 4 made necessary by this event's huge 2,650-entrant turnout. The official final table was set in Thursday's first hour of play when New Jersey's William Davis busted in tenth.

The final was trimmed to eight with Miles Harris's ouster. Illinois's Harris had pocket aces cracked on one of the day's first hands, then busted in a hand against Jeffrey Miller when Miller slow-played a flopped top pair. Harris moved all in with his    after he hit the turn of a       board, but Miller called with   , and that held up when the river was the  . Harris collected $29,939 for ninth.

California's Bruce Treitman busted in eighth for $38,802 when his    couldn't outrace Marshall's    in an all-in preflop hand. The board ran out        , giving Marshall a knockout and another boost to his already leading stack.

Marshall climbed even higher when he picked off a short-stacked Miller a dozen or so hands later. Marshall opened with a modest    while keeping pressure on the shorter stacks, Miller moved all in with   , and Miller called, continuing his rush when the         runout gave him two pair on the river and another knockout. Floridian Miller's seventh-place effort was worth $50,751.

Marshall claimed another kayo just two hands later when he busted the shortest remaining tack, belonging to California's Kanajett Hathaitham, in sixth ($66,987). Hathaitham was down to 2.95 million in chips when he moved all in with   , and a red-hot Marshall found    and called. This time the Big Slick held up as the board brought        .

The final was whittled to four players 13 hands later when two-time Circuit ring winner Rick Austin busted. Pennsylvania's Austin ran into his own Marshall-delivered beat, bowing out when his    fell to Marshall's    on the river of an         runout. Austin's deep run was worth $89,217.

Four-handed play extended for more than 60 hands, as the other players slowly reeled Marshall in. Then Los Angeles's Timothy Joseph was bounced in fourth. Joseph moved all in from the cutoff with   , but, next to act, Blake found    and called. A dominated Joseph never connected with the         board and he was off to collect his $119,888 cash.

Marshall's Day 4 rise and fall ended with a third-place bustout worth $162,538. Marshall, a Circuit regular and three-time ring winner, busted when he moved all in over a Shulman open. Shulman called and showed   , which was well ahead of Marshall's   . Needing an ace or multiple-card help, Marshall instead watched the board roll out         to end his run here.

Blake and Shulman began their heads-up duel within a single big blind's worth of chips of being tied, though it was Blake that built an edge as their battle progressed. He then looked for a knockout blow as Shulman repeatedly moved all in to put Blake to the test, forcing Blake into multiple post-flop folds. The end came in a hand where Blake flopped two pair while Shulman made both flush and straight draws on the turn, when the chips went in. Blake had    to Shulman's   , with the board showing      . Instead of hitting Shulman's draws, the river was the  , thus sealing Blake's win.

Event #39, $1,000 Super Seniors No-Limit Hold'em, drew 2,650 entrants to create a $2,385,000 prize pool. 398 players cashed, with each guaranteed at least $1,499.

Others making the money in Event #39 included Alan Myerson (21st, $11,651), Pete Vilandos (27th, $11,651), Allyn Shulman (36th, $9,424), Don Zewin (38th, $7,697), Vasili Lazarou (40th, $7,697), Vince Burgio (52nd, $6,348), Michael Moore (76th, $3,781), Gary Gibbs (83rd, $8,247), Humberto Brenes (97th, $2,816), Steve Hohn (102nd, $2,469), and Tom Franklin (108th, $2,469).

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Final-Table Payouts:

1st: Michael Blake, $359,863
2nd: Barry Shulman, $222,295
3rd: Cary Marshall, $162,538
4th: Timothy Joseph, $119,888
5th: Rick Austin, $89,217
6th: Kanajett Hathaitham, $66,987
7th: Jeffrey Miller, $50,751
8th: Bruce Treitman, $38,802
9th: Miles Harris, $29,939