Monday, June 13, 2016 6:31 PM Local Time
Of the dozen gold bracelets awarded at this year’s World Series of Poker thus far, Ryan LaPlante attracted the largest and most loyal following. The 26-year-old poker pro from Brainerd, MN was energized by the large crowd and ended up rewarding his throngs of supporters with a thrilling tournament victory in the most recent championship event at the WSOP.
LaPlante won the $565 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha tournament, which was played over three days and nights and concluded under the bright lights of the ESPN main stage at the Rio in Las Vegas.
LaPlante collected $190,328 in prize money, making this one of the biggest wins of his career. This marked his 18th time to cash at the series, dating back to 2011. His best previous showing had been a fifth-place finish in a $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event played back in 2014.
Poker has been in LaPlante’s DNA from an early age. He spent much of his years as a teenager watching poker on television and longed for the day when he could compete amongst the game’s superstars. That finally came in 2011, and LaPlante has been pursuing his life’s dream ever since.
I decided at a pretty young age I was going to do what I loved for a living,” LaPlante said. “I wasn’t going to worry about the money. So, about 11 or 12, right around the time of Chris Moneymaker, I started watching it on TV. I would watch it, and re-watch it, and re-re-watch it. Since then, I’ve watched every single hand every single year and studied the hole cards.”
LaPlante’s goals were temporarily interrupted by the events surrounding Black Friday, when American online poker pros were dealt a severe setback in not being able to play over the Internet. LaPlante spent the next five years bouncing back and forth between the U.S. and various places in Canada and Mexico, which still allowed online poker. In the meantime, LaPlante was able to craft his skills and become one of the best online poker pros, albeit his name was little known outside online poker circles.
That relative anonymity is likely due to change now that LaPlante owns a gold bracelet, a deeply cherish personal and professional accomplishment that wasn’t lost on the humble young man who worked much of his life to get to this moment of triumph.
“Between lots of good friends and having lots of online PLO experience, that made a big difference,” LaPlante said. He went on to cite several friends in the poker community who were essential to him in improving his skills. “We would talk strategy all the time,” LaPlante said when asked about the importance of a poker network. “It’s really important to be able to discuss hands with someone you can trust and get better.”
With 2,483 entrants, this was the biggest Pot-Limit Omaha competition in live poker history. It shattered the old record set previously at the WSOP. In fact, it was the largest live non-Hold’em tournament ever held. A big turnout was certainly expected, especially given the bargain basement entry fee for the first such tournament of this poker variant with a $565 buy-in. As for the re-entry option, LaPlante the winner fired twice and thus unvested a total of $1,130 to win a prize nearly 180 times that amount.
The first day’s action was wild unpredictable. Most first days gradually whittle the field size down to about a quarter to one-half of the original starters. However, this tournament played at a rocket-fast pace, all the way down to just 80 survivors, which was about 3 percent of the field. Day Two slowed down somewhat, which left just nine players to come back for Day Three. The last day lasted about five hours.
LaPlante won his victory by conquering a final table which included several relative newcomers to WSOP final day action. Three players – notably LaPlante, along with Darryll Fish -- had been in this spot before. However, most of the other aspirants took seats under the bright lights of the final table for the first time.
Sean Shah, a 29-year-old poker pro born in Pakistan and now residing in Delray Beach, FL finished as the runner up. Interesting, the man with a Masters Degree and now a second-place finish as the WSOP once appeared on the television game show, “Wheel of Fortune.”
Right after the heads-up match, LaPlante paid his final opponent the ultimate compliment: “Sean’s a very skilled PLO player,” LaPlante said. “I knew I had to be careful with him. Honestly, a lot of what I was doing when it got down to 3 or 4 players I had picked up from him. I started to do what he was doing.”
This record turnout created a prize pool totaling $1,241,500. The top 373 finishers collected prize money.
Aside from the winner, here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Second Place: Sean Shah, from Delray Beach, FL came in second. He was down by about a 2-1 margin during the final hour of the tourney, and couldn’t make much movement from the position of disadvantage. This marked his seventh time to cash at the WSOP and was his best showing, which paid out $117,531.
Third Place: Tesfaldet Tekle, from Tukwila, WA went out in third place. The poker player born in the East African nation of Eritrea enjoyed his best finish at the WSOP, which paid $85,870. However, Tekle did win a WSOP Circuit gold ring four years ago at The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles.
Fourth Place: Richard St. Peter, from Susonville, CA cashed for the seventh time at the series, dating back to 2000. He collected $63,304 in prize money.
Fifth Place: Charlie Coultas, from Seattle, WA and a graduate of the University of Washington, took fifth place in what was his seventh series cash. He pocketed $47,092. Coultas has also cashed twice in the WSOP Main Event Championship, in 2015 and 2012. In fact, he took 34th place four years ago, which paid out nearly a quarter-million dollars.
Sixth Place: Adil Khan, from Coral Springs, FL cashed for this third time this year, a result which paid out $35,353.
Seventh Place: Matthew Livingston, from North Las Vegas, NV cashed for the ninth time as the WSOP. His payout totaled $26,786.
Eighth Place: Darryll Fish, from Las Vegas, NV was another crowd favorite. He put in many years to reach this stage but wasn’t able to last beyond the early stage of the final table. Fish, now with 28 cashes at the WSOP and several deep runs in major tournaments around the country, collected $20,484 for making it to Day Three.
Ninth Place: Grant Ellis, from Whitby, Canada was the only non-American among the top nine. This was his second time to cash this years, which paid $15,813.
This was the 12th event on this year’s schedule. This still leaves another 57 gold bracelet tournaments to be played at the 2016 WSOP.
Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:56 PM Local Time
Ryan Laplante - Winner of Event #12 - $190,328
Ryan Laplante completes on the button, and Sean Shah checks in the big blind.
The flop comes . Shah checks, Laplante makes it 325,000, Shah pots it to 1,375,000, Laplante re-pots, and Shah quickly calls all in.
The comes on the turn, giving Laplante a pair of queens, and the river gives him two pair.
Sean Shah will take home $117,531 for his second place, and Ryan Laplante will win his first ever World Series of Poker bracelet and $190,328.
Ryan Laplante - 12,440,000
Sean Shah - Eliminated in 2nd Place for $117,531
A full recap of this event will be posted shortly.
Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:54 PM Local Time
Sean Shah limps in and Ryan Laplante checks. On the flop, the action goes check-check. "Now the turn," Laplante says and Shah replies "yeah, that's where everything changes." The turn brings the and Laplante bets 335,000. Shah calls and the river completes the board.
Laplante bets 665,000 and Shah thinks a bit before calling. "Full house," Laplante announces and turns over . Shah mucks and Laplante again increases his lead.
Ryan Laplante - 8,625,000 (43 bb)
Sean Shah - 3,815,000 (19 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:46 PM Local Time
Sean Shah limps from the small blind and Ryan Laplante checks his option. On the flop, Laplante checks, Shah bets 260,000 and Laplante folds. "This was going in again, top two and a gutter," Shah mentions.
After the next limped pot, Laplante tells Shah, "I play more PLO8, think I am better there." Shah smiles back and replies "I think you are trying to level me into thinking you are confused.
Both trade chips back and forth and Laplante increases his lead slightly.
Ryan Laplante - 7,425,000 (37 bb)
Sean Shah - 5,015,000 (25 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:41 PM Local Time
Both players are engaging in a lot of friendly banter between hands. But once the cards are dealt, it's all business, and both players quickly put on their game faces.
In a recent unraised pot, both players check it down slowly and methodically as the turn and flop come . Laplante checks the river, and Shah pauses before checking behind. As soon as Shah raps the table with his fist to check, Laplante switches back into friendly mode saying, "I win," with a slight giggle, as he turns over for a flush.
"You were supposed to bet," needles Sean Shah jokingly.
Ryan Laplante - 7,825,000 (39 bb)
Sean Shah - 4,615,000 (23 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:32 PM Local Time
Sean Shah limps in and Ryan Laplante checks. On the flop, both players check. Laplante bets the turn for 335,000 and Shah folds.
One hand later, Laplante limps and Shah checks his option. The flop comes and the action goes check-check. On the turn, Shah bets 275,000. Laplante raises to 940,000 and Shah folds. "I gotta get you back for that bluff on jack jack eight," Laplante says and flashes .
Shah limps the next hand and Laplante checks. "Did you even look?" Shah asks and Laplante smiles back. After the flop, both players check and Laplante finally peeks at his cards . There is no betting on either the turn or the river. Laplante announces a queen. "What kicker?" Shah asks and Laplante tells him, "nut." He flashes to win yet another pot.
Ryan Laplante - 8,775,000 (43 bb)
Sean Shah - 3,665,000 (18 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:24 PM Local Time
Shah completes on the button, and Laplante checks his option. Both players check the flop, and the turn. Before the last card is dealt Laplante says to Shah, "I keep looking at you, not sure what I am hoping to see." Shah responds, "You'll find something eventually I'm sure."
The river is the . Laplante checks, Shah bets 275,000, and Laplante releases his cards into the muck.
Sean Shah - 4,840,000 (24 bb)
Ryan Laplante - 7,600,000 (38 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:18 PM Local Time
Sean Shah raises to 500,000 and Ryan Laplante calls. On the flop, Laplante checks and Shah bets 680,000. Laplante folds and Shah adds, "that is my flop, it would be really hard for me to fold that one. Wrap, double running flush draw."
On the next hand, Laplante limps in and Shah checks. On the flop, both players check. The comes on the turn and Shah bets 310,000, Laplante folds, flashing the .
Shah raises to 500,000 and Laplante folds. Shah says "another one I was gonna go in with."
One hand later, Laplante raises to 500,000 and Shah calls. Both check the flop. On the turn, Shah bets 560,000 and Laplante checks his cards again before calling. The river completes the board and Shah checks. Laplante bets around 570,000 and Shah folds. Laplante shows him the . "Yeah, that was not a good river for me," Shah mentions.
Ryan Laplante - 8,400,000 (42 bb)
Sean Shah - 4,040,000 (20 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:10 PM Local Time
Sean Shah completes on the button, and Ryan Laplante checks his option.
The flop comes . Laplante checks. Shah bets 300,000, and Laplante calls.
Both players check the turn and river.
"Set," Laplante says as he turns over . Shah looks at his cards, throws into the middle, and mucks his other two hands.
"I would probably get it in there," Laplante says.
"It's just us two, I'm not in any hurry, are you?" Shah asks.
Laplante responds, "Well, there is the Millionaire Maker." Shah smiles, and the players prepare to move onto the next hand.
Ryan Laplante - 8,340,000 (41 bb)
Sean Shah - 4,100,000 (20 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 5:05 PM Local Time
Ryan Laplante limps in and Sean Shah checks his option. On the flop, Shah checks and Laplante bets 200,000. Shah check-raises to one million and Laplante folds, flashing the .
Shah limps in and Laplante checks. The flop comes and Laplante checks. Shah bets 300,000 and Laplante folds. Shah shows him a set of sixes.
One hand later, Laplante raises to 500,000 and Shah calls. Both players check the flop and the turn. The river goes check-check as well, and Laplante announces a flush, turning over . Shah mucks.
Ryan Laplante - 7,440,000 (37 bb)
Sean Shah - 5,000,000 (25 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 4:58 PM Local Time
Sean Shah completes in the small blind, and Ryan Laplante checks his option in the big blind.
Both players check the flop.
The turn is the . Laplante leads for 275,000, and Shah calls.
Both players check the river.
Shah shows , for the queen high straight. Laplante flashes , and then tosses them into the muck.
Sean Shah - 4,940,000 (24 bb)
Ryan Laplante - 7,500,000 (37 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 4:54 PM Local Time
In the first hand of the new level, Ryan Laplante raises to 500,000 and Sean Shah folds out of the big blind.
The next hand, Shah raises to 450,000 and Laplante calls. On the flop, Laplante checks. Shah bets 480,000 and Laplante check-raises the pot. Shah folds, saying, "nice hand."
Ryan Laplante - 8,040,000 (40 bb)
Sean Shah - 4,400,000 (22 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 4:48 PM Local Time
Saturday, June 11, 2016 4:45 PM Local Time
The final two players are now moving to the secondary stage in the
Amazon room, as the Razz final table will now take over the Main Stage.
There will be a short 10 minute break to get the chips moved over, and
all set up.
Here is a look at the final two players chips stacks:
Ryan Laplante - 6,910,000
Sean Shah - 5,530,000
Saturday, June 11, 2016 4:39 PM Local Time
Tesfaldet Tekle Eliminated in 3rd Place ($85,870)
Tesfaldet Tekle raises to 500,000, Ryan Laplante announces, "Pot," Tekle moves all of his chips forward, and the players table their hands.
The flop comes , leaving Laplante in the lead. The turn gives Tekle an open-ended straight draw, but Laplante still leads.
"Duece," Laplante's rail calls for, and the dealer lays the . Laplante's rail cheers loudly, as Tekle is eliminated in 3rd place.
Ryan Laplante - 6,910,000 (43 bb)
Tesfaldet Tekle - Eliminated in 3rd place ($85,870)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 4:30 PM Local Time
Tekle limps the small blind and Shah checks his option. On the flop, Tekle bets 250,000 and wins the pot.
Two hands later, Laplante limps in the small blind and Tekle checks the big blind. The flop comes and both players check. After the comes on the turn, Laplante bets 230,000 and Tekle folds.
Ryan Laplante - 5,640,000 (35 bb)
Sean Shah - 5,400,000 (33 bb)
Tesfaldet Tekle - 1,340,000 (8 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 4:24 PM Local Time
Ryan Laplante calls on the button, Tesfaldet Tekle completes in the small blind, and Sean Shah checks his option in the big blind.
The flop comes . Tekle bets 360,000, and only Laplante calls.
The turn is the . Tekle checks, Laplante bets 475,000, and Tekle calls.
Both players check the river.
Laplante turns over for Broadway. Tekle picks up his cards, lifts his hand up in the air in a questioning fashion, and then mucks his cards.
Ryan Laplante - 5,500,000 (34 bb)
Tesfaldet Tekle - 1,400,000 (8 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 4:04 PM Local Time
Sean Shah completes in the small blind and Ryan Laplante checks his option in the big blind. On the flop, Shah bets 175,000 and Laplante calls. The turn and the river are both checked through. Shah announces queen-ten as he tables . Laplante has the and they split the pot.
One hand later, Shah limps from the button and Tesfaldet Tekle checks in the big blind. The flop is and Tekle checks. Shah bets 175,000 and Tekle calls. Both check the turn and Tekle also checks the river. Shah bets 505,000. Tekle thinks about calling, but eventually folds.
Sean Shah - 5,500,000 (34 bb)
Tesfaldet Tekle - 2,250,000 (14 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 3:58 PM Local Time
Tesfaldet Tekle completes in the small blind, and Sean Shah checks his option in the big.
Both players check the flop.
Tekle bets 250,000 when the comes on the turn, and Shah calls.
The river is the . Tekle checks, Shah bets 565,000, and Tekle looks at Shah, rolls his shoulders back, and goes into the tank. After a full two minutes of thinking, Tekle counts out 1,200,000 in chips, shuffles them, and then mucks his cards.
Sean Shah - 5,125,000 (32 bb)
Tesfaldet Tekle - 2,500,000 (15 bb)
Saturday, June 11, 2016 3:49 PM Local Time
Sean Shah raises to 400,000 from under the gun and Tesfaldet Tekle calls in the big blind. On the flop of , both players check. Tekle then bets the turn for 425,000 and Shah folds.
Tesfaldet Tekle - 3,080,000 (19 bb)
Sean Shah - 3,800,000 (23 bb)