Wednesday, July 6, 2016 1:43 AM Local Time
David Nowakowski is the newest member of poker’s gold bracelet club.
The 28-year-old poker grinder originally from Voorhees, NJ won the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split tournament, which was played over three days and nights at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Nowakowski collected $203,113 in prize money, making this the biggest live win of his career. However, the online player who has spent considerable time out of the United States to pursue his profession has made considerable profits and even acquired “Super Nova” status at one of the world’s largest online sites.
“I played rush Omaha online, but haven’t played a lot of PLO High-Low recently,” Nowakowski said. “I definitely wanted to win this. It’s a dream come true. It’s still all a bit surreal to me.”
Nowakowski won his victory by coming out on top at a final table which included a mix of pros and semi-pros who were less accustomed to the pressures of playing for a WSOP title. The moment of triumph came when Nowakowski was up against two tough adversaries – Timothy Vukson and Marco Johnson – who finished in second and third place respectively. In fact, Nowakowski wiped out his last two challengers in just 15-minutes time, despite plenty of chips in play. By that time the blinds had escalated to the point where a few hands could determine the final outcome, which is exactly what happened.
Nowakowski has been living in Panama lately, where he’s spent much of his time playing online poker. However, Nowakowski has recently moved back to his native New Jersey. He plans to return to college in the fall and study accounting.
Despite the victory, Nowakowski knows the life of a professional poker player isn’t always easy. He’s worked hard at his craft, but also realizes there are other things he wants to do with his life. He dropped out of college seven years ago when the games were lucrative, but also admits he’s gotten burned out somewhat by playing so much.
“I just decided to move back to the U.S. recently,” Nowakowski said. “I plan on returning back to school and finishing up my degree in the fall, so this win definitely helps.”
As for the future, Nowakowski was candid in his admission that poker might not figure in his future plans.
“I don’t really like poker all that much,” he said laughingly.
This tourney attracted 732 entrants which created a prize pool totaling $988,200. The top 110 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: Timothy Yukson, from Ottawa, ON (Canada) made quite a showing in his first WSOP final table appearance. After cashing deep in last year’s Colossus (30th place out of 22K entrants), he outmaneuvered another big field and took the runner up spot. Yukson collected $125,507.
Third Place: Marco Johnson, from Walnut Creek, CA was aiming for his second win at the ’16 series and third win overall, after winning his first WSOP title back in 2013. Johnson, winner of the $3K HORSE tourney (Event #18) made another deep run and ended up in third place. Johnson earned a well-deserved $87,192.
Fourth Place: James Alexander, from San Antonio, TX came in fourth. He’s now cashed six time at this year’s series, including three in-the-money finishes in the top-11. Alexander, surely someone to watch in future events, received $61,519.
Fifth Place: Kenneth Po, from Seven Hills, OH enjoyed his highest WSOP finish ever after coming in fifth place. Po collected $44,094. This was his fourth time in-the-money at the series.
Sixth Place: Colin Gelker, an accountant from Bellingham, WA came in sixth place. This was his second time to cash in a WSOP event. He collected $32,114.
Seventh Place: Stephen Johnson, from Eugene, OR cashed for the third time at the series with this deep run, which paid $23,772.
Eighth Place: Martin Staszko, from Trinec, Czech Republic came in eighth place. He is best known for finishing as runner up in the 2011 WSOP Main Event Championship. Staszko now has 23 cashes at the series. He added $17,890 to his career earnings, which now totals more than $5.5 million.
Ninth Place: Matt Lefkowitz, from Carmel Valley, CA rounded out the final table as the ninth-place finisher. He raked in $13,691 for what was his 31st time to finish in-the-money at the WSOP. Lefkowitz now has seven final table appearance, but is still without a gold bracelet, despite nearly $600,000 in career earnings.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016 12:07 AM Local Time
David Nowakowski raises to 160,000 and Timothy Vukson calls.
The flop is and both players check. The turn is the and Vukson checks.
Nowakowski bets 200,000 and Vukson bets the pot.
"You bet the pot?" Nowakowsi asks. "I'm all-in."
Vukson calls and shows and Nowakowski has him in a bad spot with . He has the same pair for the high, but with a better kicker and the better low.
The river is the and that seals the deal, David Nowakowski is the newest gold bracelet winner. He takes home $203,113 and his first bracelet.
Nowakowski began the day as the chip leader and was always in the top three chip counts all day. When the heads-up match began, Nowakowski held the lead. He briefly gave up the chip lead, but snatched it back and didn't look back.
Timothy Vukson finishes in second place and takes home $125,507. He spent most of the tournament wielding one of the bigger stacks and was very active at the final table.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:59 PM Local Time
David Nowakowski raises to 160,000 from the button, and gets called by Timothy Vukson in the big blind.
The flop is . Both players check.
The turn is the . Vukson checks, and Nowakowski bets 200,000. Vukson calls.
The river is the . Vukson checks again, and Nowakoswki bets 500,000. Vukson calls.
Nowkowski shows for trip aces. Vukson mucks, and Nowakoski takes the pot.
Nowakowski - 4,350,000 (54 bb)
Vukson - 1,600,000 (20 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:52 PM Local Time
Timothy Vukson opens to 160,000 and David Nowakowski calls.
The flop is and both players check.
The turn is the and Nowakowski checks. Vukson bets 225,000. Nowakowski raises to 525,000 and Vukson folds.
David Nowakowski - 2,900,000 (36 bb)
Timothy Vukson - 2,600,000 (32 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:46 PM Local Time
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:39 PM Local Time
The players are taking a 15-minute break. Player will resume at 11:49 p.m. local time.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:39 PM Local Time
Timothy Vukson limps in from the button, David Nowakowski raises to 135,000 from the bi blind, and Vukson reraises to 480,000.
The flop is . Vukson bets pot for 960,000, and Nowakowski folds his hand.
Timothy Vukson - 3,150,000 (51 bb)
David Nowakowski - 2,350,000 (39 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:28 PM Local Time
Timothy Vukson limps and David Nowakowski makes it 120,000 more to go. Vukson calls.
The flop is and Nowakowski bets 200,000. Vukson calls.
The turn is the and Nowakowski checks. Vukson bets the pot and Nowkowski folds.
Nowakowski started the heads-up match with the chip lead and Vukson is gaining some ground after the first few hands of
Timothy Vukson - 2,340,000 (39 bb)
David Nowakowski - 3,150,000 (52 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:22 PM Local Time
Marco Johnson Eliminated in 3rd Place ($87,192)
David Nowakowski raises to 125,000 form the button, and Timothy Vukson calls from the small blind. Marco Johnson three-bets to 500,000 form the big blind. Nowakowski announces "all-in." Vukson folds, and Johnson calls to put himself at risk.
The board runs out . Nowakowski makes a seven-high straight, and the nut low, and Johnson is eliminated.
We are now heads-up between David Nowakowski, and Timothy Vukson. They are both batting for their first bracelet.
David Nowakowski - 3,600,000 (60 bb)
Timothy Vukson - 2,300,000 (38 bb)
Marco Johnson - Eliminated in 3rd place ($87,192)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:17 PM Local Time
Vukson is in the small blind and bets the pot, making it 180,000. Johnson goes all-in for 500,000 and Vuksan calls.
Vukson has against the of Johnson.
The board runs out and the river gives Johnson the whole pot, giving him a bigger full house on the river. Just one hand after getting scooped, Marco Johnson scoops Timothy
Vuksan. This hand, the river gives Johnson the whole pot instead of
taking it away as happened on the previous hand.
Marco Johnson - 1,000,000 (16 bb)
Timothy Vukson - 1,300,000 (21 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:13 PM Local Time
Johnson opens on the button to 120,000 and Vuksan bets the pot from the big blind. The bet is 390,000 and Johnson calls.
The flop is and both players get all-in quickly. Johnson leads and Vuksan calls.
Johnson has a set of fives with against the of Vuksan.
The turn is the and the river is the . In just the third hand of three-handed play, Timothy Vuksan scoops Marco Johnson when he makes a wheel on the river.
Timothy Vuksan - 2,300,000 (38 bb)
Marco Johnson - 500,000 (8 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:06 PM Local Time
James Alexander Eliminated in 4th Place ($61,519)
Marco Johnson raises to 120,000 from the cutoff. After being left short the previous hand, James Alexander goes all-in for his last 55,000. Timothy Vukson calls the 120,000 in the big blind.
The flop is . Vukson checks, and Johnson bets 200,000. Vukson folds, so it's heads-up, and the hands are tabled.
The turn and river are . With no low possible, Johnson takes the whole pot with trip kings, and Alexander is eliminated.
Marco Johnson - 1,400,000 (23 bb)
Timothy Vukson - 1,050,000 (17 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:59 PM Local Time
David Nowakowski limps the button and Timothy Vukson calls from the small blind. Marco Johnson checks his option.
The flop is and all three players check. The turn is the and the action checks to Nowakowski. He bets 95,000 and Vukson is the lone caller.
The river is the and both players check. Nowakowski shows for a straight and Vukson mucks.
David Nowakowski - 2,300,000 (38 bb)
Timothy Vukson - 1,350,000 (22 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:54 PM Local Time
Kenneth Po Eliminated in 5th Place ($44,094)
Marco Johnson raises to 210,000 from the cutoff, and Kenneth Po calls from the big blind.
The flop is . Po goes all-in for 240,000 and Johnson calls to put Po at risk.
The turn and river are the and the . Johnson's pair of eights hold up. Po misses his draws and is eliminated.
Marco Johnson - 1,320,000 (22 bb)
Kenneth Po - Eliminated in 5th place ($44,094)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:49 PM Local Time
Timothy Vukson opens on the button, making it 125,000. James Alexander defends from the big blind.
The flop comes and both players check. The turn is the and Alexander leads for 175,000. Vukson raises pot, making it 790,000, a bet that is more than Alexander has remaining.
Alexander takes a while to make his decision.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do here," he says, "I think I already made up my mind to give it to you, but I don't think I'm supposed to give it to you."
Eventually Alexander folds and gives the hand to Vukson.
Timothy Vuksan - 1,470,000 (24 bb)
James Alexander - 515,000 (8 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:40 PM Local Time
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:38 PM Local Time
TImothy Vukson raises to 110,000 from under the gun, James Alexander calls from the button, Kenneth Po calls from the small blind, and David Nowakowski calls in the big blind.
The flop is . Po shoves all in for 230,000. Nowakowski folds, Vukson calls, and Alexander folds. Both hands are tabled.
The turn and river are . Po wins the high with trip deuces, and Vukson takes the other half with the nut low.
Kenneth Po - 440,000 (8 bb)
Timothy Vukson - 1,270,000 (25 bb)
David Nowakowski - 2,100,000 (42 bb)
James Alexander - 780,000 (15 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:33 PM Local Time
James Alexander opens to 125,000 and Marco Johnson defends from the big blind.
The flop comes and Johnson leads for 275,000. Alexander quickly folds.
Marco Johnson - 700,000 (14 bb)
James Alexander - 950,000 (19 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:27 PM Local Time
David Nowakowski limps in from the small blind, and Timothy Vukson checks in the big blind.
The flop is , and both players check.
The turn is the . Nowakowski checks, and Vukson bets 50,000. Nowakowski calls.
The river is the . Both players check.
Vukson shows for a full house, and he takes the pot.
Timothy Vukson - 1,150,000 (23 bb)
David Nowakowski - 2,150,000 (43 bb)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:22 PM Local Time
James Alexander opens to 125,000 and Colin Gelker is next to act. He goes all-in for 250,000 and Alexander calls.
The board runs out and Alexander wins the hand with ace-king high. Gelker is eliminated in sixth place.
James Alexander - 1,050,000 (21 bb)
Colin Gelker - Eliminated in 6th place ($32,114)