Sunday, July 14, 2019 6:22 PM Local Time
Tom Koral Wins Second Bracelet in Event #82: $1,500 NLH Double Stack ($530,164)
Skokie, Illinois' Tom Koral, 35, won his second career bracelet after besting a 2,589-player field to win the 2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Event #82: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack for $530,164. It was the biggest score of Koral's long-standing poker career and his biggest victory since winning his first bracelet in a $1,500 Stud event in 2017.
Koral denied Dutchman Freek Scholten his first — and Holland's seventh — WSOP gold. Two-time bracelet winner Barry Shulman finished in third place and crossed $5.5 million in lifetime winnings.
While Koral is primarily known for his mixed game chops, winning his second bracelet in the most ubiquitous game of all was special to him.
"It means a lot to me specifically because it's hold'em," Koral said to assorted media directly after his victory. "I think a lot of people look at me as mixed games primarily, so this was kind of my way of showing I could still play hold'em," he chuckled.
"It feels great, it feels incredible, and it's sure gonna take a day or two to settle in."
Koral's career dates all the way back to 2005, and an impressive poker resumé of over $2 million in lifetime cashes on The Hendon Mob shows he's been successful at all the different poker formats for a long time. Koral shared his secrets for staying fresh, sharp and on top of the game.
"I have a brain that's constantly wandering, so especially when I'm out here for six weeks I can really get in the zone and constantly think about poker and poker hands. Always just analyzing myself: win or lose the hand, I'm always analyzing. It's the constant analysis of my own play to get me to where I am."
"Being very self-reflective and being honest with yourself is probably the most important quality you can have as a poker player and I think I do that pretty well."
Final Table Results
|1||Tom Koral||United States||$530,164|
|3||Barry Shulman||United States||$239,187|
|4||Philip Scaletta||United States||$176,219|
|5||Adam Hendrix||United States||$131,001|
|6||Darren Rabinowitz||United States||$98,274|
Paying to learn
In order to become the all-around player he is today, Koral's skills were sharpened by the tough Chicago games that fellow Chicago pro Brett Richey introduced him to. Richey was on the rail to support his friend towards a second victory.
"He got me into the idea of playing some of these mixed games. When I started, actually, I was probably playing way too high of stakes, and I was really bad. I was probably the guy getting followed around at the tables. I was the soft spot," Koral laughed.
Koral, however, was willing to pay to learn and saw his investment pay off down the road as the former "mark" now has a second bracelet donning his wrist to join the exclusive club of multiple WSOP bracelet winners.
Final Table Action
Koral came back at noon local time together with seven other competitors for an unscheduled third day to play down to a champion. The American was flanked by four countrymen, Scholten from the Netherlands, and two players from India: Kalyan Cheekuri and Kunal Punjwani.
For the Indians, however, the final table would become one to quickly forget. Cheekuri made a move with an underpair but ran his lone pocket fours into a set of sixes to be the first to leave the final table. Punjwani followed him quickly out of the door when his trip sevens got cracked by another pair of sixes, this time improving to a runner-runner straight.
After playing six-handed for a while, the others would drop off one by one as stacks grew shallow with the 40-minute levels. Darren Rabinowitz lost his final scraps to Shulman before Adam Hendrix had to bow to Scholten in the biggest pot of the tournament at that stage. Hendrix four-bet shipped pocket tens into pocket queens, saw no improvement, and had to depart while being second in chips. Scholten propelled himself to a monster stack as a result.
Koral on Key Heads-Up Hands
Scholten also knocked out Philip Scaletta then denied Shulman his attempt to win a third bracelet to start heads-up play sporting a slight lead over his adversary. However, a key hand would soon take place that saw Koral improve to a lead he wouldn't give up. In the pivotal hand, Koral raised with ace-five first to act and saw Scholten throw in a three-bet.
"First of all, he was a very good player. I think good players like to step on the gas early, to let their opponent know they're not going to be pushed around," Koral explained. "So I was expecting to get three-bet early in the heads-up match. I have an ace heads-up and having position is so valuable."
The flop came jack-jack-ten rainbow and Scholten threw out a small continuation-bet. Bets are often polarized here, according to Koral, and he called figuring his ace-high was still good often enough to call one bet. The turn brought an offsuit deuce and Scholten checked. Koral bet 8.5 million, around 40% of the size of the pot, and Scholten called.
"I want to bet my ace-high for value, a little protection. But I also have position, I can put hands like pocket sixes or ace-nine in a really weird spot," Koral explained. As it turned out, Scholten would check-call with king-queen for king-high and the Broadway draw. An offsuit trey landed on the river and both players checked to award the key pot to Koral.
After the key hand, the Chicagoan widened the gap even further before laying a trap that would finish the talented Dutchman off for good. Holding pocket aces, Koral limped the button. Scholten pushed with the queen-trey of diamonds and Koral snapped it off. He held up to become the fifth player of the summer to win the final hand of the tournament holding the blades.
The 2019 World Series of Poker is nearing the end with Event #82: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack drawing to a close. However, with the Main Event in full swing, so make sure to check back regularly to PokerNews and not miss out on any of the updates.
Sunday, July 14, 2019 5:01 PM Local Time
Freek Scholten Eliminated in 2nd Place ($327,563)
Hand #137: Tom Koral limped and Freek Scholten shoved all in for 20,800,000. When Koral called, they turned over their cards and Scholten saw the bad news.
Koral had trapped with pocket aces and Scholten needed something special to keep him in the game. There was a glimmer of hope on the flop, with Scholten picking up a gutshot draw. The was of no help to the Dutchman and neither was the river.
Scholten narrowly missed out on his first bracelet and received $327,563 for finishing runner up.
|Tom Koral||130,500,000||24,800,000 |
|Freek Scholten||0||-24,800,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 4:50 PM Local Time
Level 42 started
Sunday, July 14, 2019 4:48 PM Local Time
Hands #129-136: Koral Approaching the Finish Line
Hand #129: Tom Koral raised to 3,200,000 and Freek Scholten called. The flop was and Scholten check-folded to a bet of 3,000,000.
Hand #130: Scholten limped the button, Koral shoved all in and Scholten folded.
Hand #131: Koral raised to 3,200,000 and Scholten folded.
Hand #132: Scholten raised all in for 22,400,000 and Koral folded.
Hand #133: Koral raised to 3,200,000 and Scholten folded.
Hand #134: Koral received a walk.
Hand #135: Koral raised to 3,200,000, Scholten three-bet shoved all in for 20,000,000, and Koral folded.
Hand #136: Scholten limp-folded when Koral set him all in.
|Tom Koral||105,700,000||2,400,000 |
|Freek Scholten||24,800,000||-2,400,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 4:44 PM Local Time
Hands #124-128: Koral Chipping Away at Scholten's Stack
Hand #124: Freek Scholten limped and Tom Koral checked. On the flop, Koral check-called 2,000,000 and the dealer placed an on the turn. It checked through to the river and again both players checked. Koral tabled and it was good for the pot.
Hand #125: Koral opened and Scholten folded.
Hand #126: Scholten limped the button, Koral raised to 6,100,000 and took it down.
Hand #127: Koral raised and Scholten called. The flop fell and it went check-check. The turn brought a fourth club and they both checked again. The river was a and neither player wanted to bet. Koral flipped over and his pair of deuces was good against Scholten's .
Hand #128: Scholten limped and Koral checked. On the flop he check-folded to Scholten's 1,600,000 bet.
|Tom Koral||103,300,000||14,800,000 |
|Freek Scholten||27,200,000||-14,800,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 4:35 PM Local Time
Hands #119-123: Koral's Ace-High is Good
Hand #119: In the first hand of heads-up, Freek Scholten raised to 3,200,000, Tom Koral three-bet to 10,000,000, and Scholten folded.
Hand #120: Koral raised to 3,200,000 and Scholten called. The flop was and Scholten checked. Koral bet 3,000,000 and Scholten folded.
Hand #121: Scholten raised to 3,200,000 and Koral called. The flop came down and Koral checked. Scholten continued for 3,500,000 and Koral called.
Koral checked the on the turn and Scholten checked behind. The river was the and both players checked again. Koral won the hand with an unknown holding.
Hand #122: Koral raised to 3,200,000, Scholten three-bet to 9,600,000 and Koral called. The flop was and Scholten bet 4,600,000. Koral called.
The turn brought the and Scholten checked. Koral bet 8,500,000 and Scholten called.
The river was the and Scholten checked. Koral checked behind and Scholten showed for king-high. Koral turned over for ace-high and raked in the massive pot.
Hand #123: Scholten raised to 3,200,000 and Koral folded.
|Tom Koral||88,500,000||35,000,000 |
|Freek Scholten||42,000,000||-34,100,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 4:12 PM Local Time
Players will take a short break now before returning to play heads up.
Sunday, July 14, 2019 4:12 PM Local Time
Barry Shulman Eliminated in 3rd Place ($239,187)
Hand #118: Freek Scholten shoved all in from the small blind and was met by a quick call from Barry Shulman.
Shulman was in with the worst of it as they headed into the flop, with his wife Allyn calling for "an ace for my baby!"
The poker Gods may not have heard as there was no ace on the board but it was an interesting board nonetheless. Though Scholten had hit his set, it was accompanied by a sweat, as Shulman had picked up an open-ended straight draw and running flush outs.
The turn was a , putting the flush hopes to bed and the river was a , denying Shulman his third bracelet. He received $239,187 for his third-place finish, putting him over the $5.5M mark in lifetime winnings.
|Freek Scholten||76,100,000||23,900,000 |
|Tom Koral||53,500,000||-3,200,000 |
|Barry Shulman||0||-20,700,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 4:04 PM Local Time
Hands #116-117: Scholten Makes a Move on Koral
Hand #116: Tom Koral opened the button and Freek Scholten three-bet all in for 52,000,000, which got folds from both his opponents.
Hand #117: A walk for Scholten.
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:57 PM Local Time
Hands #111-115: Shove From Shulman
Hand #111: Freek Scholten raised to 3,200,000 on the button and won the hand.
Hand #112: Tom Koral limped in from the small blind and Scholten checked. Koral and Scholten both checked the flop and turn. The river was the and Koral reached for 5,000,000. Scholten quickly folded.
Hand #113: Koral raised to 4,000,000 on the button and everyone folded.
Hand #114: Scholten raised to 3,200,000 on the button and Koral defended his big blind. The flop came down and Koral checked. Scholten bet 3,500,000 and Koral folded.
Hand #115: Barry Shulman moved all in for 16,700,000 on the button and Koral and Scholten folded.
|Tom Koral||56,700,000||-1,600,000 |
|Freek Scholten||52,200,000||2,400,000 |
|Barry Shulman||20,700,000||0 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:51 PM Local Time
Level 41 started
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:50 PM Local Time
Hands #106-110: Koral Moves into the Chiplead
Hand #106: Barry Shulman raised 25,200,000 all in on the button and won the blinds and ante.
Hand #107: Freek Scholten opened 3,100,000 blind versus blind and Shulman folded.
Hand #108: Scholten opened 2,500,000 on the button and Tom Koral defended in the big blind. It was an flop and Koral checked to Scholten who made it 3,000,000 to proceed. Koral folded.
Hand #109: Koral limped in the small blind and Scholten checked his option. The flop fell and they checked through to the turn. The same happened on the river and Koral opened and it was good to win the pot.
Hand #110: Koral raised 2,500,000 and Shulman called from the big blind. The flop was and Shulman check-folded to a 2,500,000 continuation bet.
|Tom Koral||58,300,000||2,400,000 |
|Freek Scholten||49,800,000||1,300,000 |
|Barry Shulman||20,700,000||-4,500,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:41 PM Local Time
Hands #100-105: Shulman Doubles Through Scholten
Hand #100: A walk for Tom Koral.
Hand #101: Koral limped the small blind and Freek Scholten checked. The flop went check/check, as did the turn.
The river brought a 2,400,000 bet from Koral and a fold from Scholten.
Hand #102: Koral raised to 2,500,000 on the button, Scholten three-bet to 9,000,000 from the small blind. Barry Shulman folded and Koral inquired about Scholten's stack. He took around a minute before laying his hand down.
Hand #103: Scholten raised to 2,500,000 on the button. Koral three-bet to 10,000,000 from the big blind and Scholten folded.
Hand #104: A walk for Scholten.
Hand #105: Scholten shoved all in from the small blind and Barry Shulman called all in for 12,300,000 in the big blind.
The flop was to keep Schulman ahead with ace-high. The on the turn sealed it for the two-time bracelet winner, making the river merely one for the statistics.
An excited Allyn Shulman bounced up and down the rail as she watched the action unfold in her husband's favor.
"That's my boy!" she yelled. "Let's go honey!"
|Tom Koral||55,900,000||3,000,000 |
|Freek Scholten||48,500,000||-11,700,000 |
|Barry Shulman||25,200,000||8,700,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:38 PM Local Time
Philip Scaletta Elminated in 4th Place ($176,219)
Hand #99: Philip Scaletta shoved from the cutoff for 11,300,000 all in and Freek Scholten reraised all in to put him at risk. The other two had no interest in getting involved and their cards were spun over.
Scaletta had a strong hand but unfortunately for him, he had run into a better hand from Scholten. With his tournament life at risk with only 30 percent equity, they headed to the flop. It came , which gave Scholten top pair but increased Scaletta's outs by one.
The turn paired the board and the river was of no help to him as well to end his deep run in fourth place.
|Freek Scholten||60,200,000||-7,200,000 |
|Tom Koral||52,900,000||19,100,000 |
|Barry Shulman||16,500,000||0 |
|Philip Scaletta||0||-11,900,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:31 PM Local Time
Hands #97-98: Scholten Bluffs Multiple Streets into Koral
Hand #97: Barry Shulman raised all in 16,500 on the button and no one wanted to call.
Hand #98: Tom Koral limped in the small blind and Freek Scholten checked in the big. The flop came and Koral checked to Scholten who bet 1,800,000 and Koral called.
The turn was the and when Koral checked again, Scholten barreled for 4,700,000. Koral called and the river was a brick. After Koral checked a third time, Scholten set 12,000,000 over the line. Koral asked for a count and made the call with . It was the right one, with Scholten showing for a missed straight draw turned bluff.
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:18 PM Local Time
Hands #92-96: Koral Doubles Through Scaletta
Hand #92: Tom Koral shoved all in for 13,000,000 from under the gun. It got folded to Philip Scaletta who asked for a count but opted to fold as well after.
Hand #93: Scaletta raised to 2,800,000 in the small blind and Koral folded the big blind.
Hand #94: Shulman raised all in for 16,500,000 from under the gun and won the hand.
Hand #95: Koral shoved all in for 13,000,000 on the button and the blinds folded.
Hand #96: Koral shoved all in for 16,000,000 from under the gun and Scaletta called all in from the big blind.
The flop came down to give Koral a massive lead in the hand. The on the turn left Scaletta drawing to two outs, and the on the river secured the double-up for Koral.
|Freek Scholten||67,400,000||-3,000,000 |
|Tom Koral||33,800,000||20,800,000 |
|Barry Shulman||16,500,000||-600,000 |
|Philip Scaletta||11,900,000||-17,200,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:09 PM Local Time
Level 40 started
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:09 PM Local Time
Hands #86-91: Scholten Extends His Lead a Little More
Hand #86: Freek Scholten got a walk.
Hand #87: Scholten raised to 2,700,000 blind versus blind and Barry Shulman passed.
Hand #88: Tom Koral raised 13,000,000 all in under the gun and took it down.
Hand #89: Scholten opened under the gun/cutoff and everyone folded.
Hand #90: Shulman moved all in for 16,600,000 first to act and Scholten though Scholten thought about it, he let it go.
Hand #91: Philip Scaletta raised to 2,400,000 from under the gun and everyone folded.
|Freek Scholten||70,400,000||2,500,000 |
|Philip Scaletta||29,100,000||0 |
|Barry Shulman||17,100,000||-2,000,000 |
|Tom Koral||13,000,000||-500,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:00 PM Local Time
Hands #81-85: Scaletta With the Check-Raise
Hand #81: Freek Scholten raised to 2,000,000 from under the gun and won the hand.
Hand #82: Tom Koral raised all in for 12,600,000 from the small blind and won the hand.
Hand #83: Koral raised to 2,000,000 on the button and Barry Shulman defended the big blind. The flop was and Shulman checked. Koral bet 1,700,000 and Shulman folded.
Hand #84: A walk for Philip Scaletta.
Hand #85: Scaletta raised to 2,000,000 in the small blind and Tom Koral called in the big blind. The flop was and Scaletta checked. Koral bet 1,600,000, but Scaletta had cooked something up and breached some old-school poker etiquette by check-raising to 4,600,000.
Back on Koral, he considered the action for a bit before giving it up.
|Freek Scholten||67,900,000||0 |
|Philip Scaletta||29,100,000||4,600,000 |
|Barry Shulman||19,100,000||-3,500,000 |
|Tom Koral||13,500,000||-1,100,000 |
Sunday, July 14, 2019 2:54 PM Local Time
Adam Hendrix Eliminated in 5th Place ($131,001)
Hand #80: In undoubtedly the hand of the tournament so far, Adam Hendrix and Freek Scholten, the two biggest stacks, got all their chips in.
Hendrix had opened under the gun and Scholten three-bet to 6,300,000 on the button, which got the blinds to fold. When the action came back to Hendrix, he four-bet all in for 31,100,000 and Scholten snap-called.
It was a huge cooler for Hendrix who was drawing to just two outs, none of which came on the board. He couldn't hide his disappointment as he got up to leave, shaking hands with the remaining players as he did so.
Scholten is now massive with 68 big blinds, compared to Scaletta, who sits in second place with 24 big blinds.
|Freek Scholten||67,900,000||33,100,000 |
|Philip Scaletta||24,500,000||-2,000,000 |
|Barry Shulman||22,600,000||0 |
|Tom Koral||14,600,000||0 |
|Adam Hendrix||0||-31,100,000 |