Those were the first words we've heard Viacheslav Zhukov speak in English all day, and they came just moments after he pulled the gold bracelet out of its box and hoisted it into the air. Photographers were clamoring for their shots, and Zhukov could barely muster a smile. Perhaps it'll be a bit later on tonight or tomorrow before the news that he's just won WSOP gold and $465,216 dollars sinks in.
This fourth day (of the three-day event) began with our final three players battling it out for the bracelet. Steve Billirakis began the day on the short stack with just more than three big bets, and it wasn't but a few hands before he was escorted to the cashier's table in third place. The board ran out with George Lind and Viacheslav Zhukov checking it down the whole way. Zhukov bet the river finally, and Lind laid it down. Billirakis could only show for two pair, and it would get him nothing. Zhukov tabled , and his trip kings brought the match to heads-up.
After such a short journey to two-handed today, one could be forgiven for expecting a quick resolution. The orbits came and went, though, with pots growing ever-larger to keep pace with the escalating betting limits. Many times over the course of the three-hour duel it looked as if the momentum had finally swung for good. Every time, though, the other player struck right back to square the match. Every pot, it seemed, had half the chips in play up for grabs. Finally, during the 32nd level of the event, when there were just 12 big bets in play, things finally unraveled all the way for Lind.
It seems likely from his reactions that he was rivered in a big pot on a board that came . Lind check-called a flop bet, then led the turn and river. Zhukov popped it up to 1 million straight after the final bet, and Lind was forced to fold, leaving himself with just 1.4 million of the 6 million in play. On the final hand of the match, Lind got his money in ahead with just a pair of fours, but Zhukov's ran down the wheel on the board. It was the last hand of the day, and it was the one that gave the title to Zhukov.
Zhukov now has two career cashes on his poker tournament stat sheet. The first was a win in an EPT side event, and the second is another title here today, a World Series of Poker title. He's the first Russian to win gold in 2011, and he seems a bit too tired to enjoy it fully right now. Perhaps in the morning. "I'm exhausted," he says.
That's all for Event #11, but the Amazon Room is buzzing with action. Check out the coverage of Event #16, the $10,000 2-7 Draw event if you're craving some more Championship action. We'll see you over there!