The third and final day of Event #26: $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha, a tournament that attracted 1,293 players (the largest live non-hold'em event in history) and created a prize pool of $1,163,700, saw 16 players return to action with Indiana's Aaron Wallace and Germany's Marko Neumann leading the way. Fittingly, the title came down to the two of them.
In the end, Wallace, a 32-year-old father of two — Kosei and Corabelle, age five and three respectively — with one on the way, dispatched his German opponent to capture the $226,985 first-place prize and his first gold bracelet.
"It's surreal," Wallace told PokerNews after the win. "It's a dream come true, to have friend here. I missed my daughter's third birthday to come out here and play this. I told my wife I'm going to win it. I believed it, and it happened. I'm blessed beyond words for family, friends, and this. Grateful."
Wallace, who serves as director of sales for Traders Point Creamery – a company that sells 100% grass-fed organic dairy products – was actually in Los Angeles for work, but made sure to time his business trip to coincide with the PLO tournament. While he planned to play Event #26 regardless, he had the added bonus of winning a single-table satellite Wednesday night to qualify for the event at a discount.
"It's going to give us a little more freedom that we didn't have," Wallace said of the money. "I'm not going to become a poker professional. I'll play about the same amount of tournaments I do, a handful each year, and maybe make a World Series trip a little more regularly. I don't think it's going to change me, who I am, but it will allow us some freedom."
Final Table Results
|1||Aaron Wallace||Carmel, IN||$226,985|
|2||Marko Neumann||Recklinghausen, Germany||$140,353|
|3||Noah Merritt||Vancouver, WA||$88,801|
|5||Daniel Zack||Princeton, NJ||$47,548|
|6||Chase Steely||Williamsburg, KY||$35,609|
|8||Curtis Krushelniski||Macklin, SK, Canada||$20,830|
|9||Thomas Kearney||Las Vegas, NV||$16,245|
Among those to fall short of the final table on Saturday were Henri Koivisto (15th - $10,275), Raul Paez (13th - $10,275), and Julian Galvan (10th - $12,835), just to name a few.
According to live updates, a big hand took place in Level 26 (20,000/40,000) when Neumann opened for 60,000 and Chase Steely three-bet to 225,000. Wallace then moved all in, Neumann folded, and Steely called off for his tournament life.
Steely was in a bad spot, and the flop didn't do much for him other than give him a pair of sixes. The turn was a blank, and so was the river to send Steely out the door in sixth place for $35,609.
The final hand of the tournament came after a lengthy heads-up battle that saw both players hold the lead. In Level 29 (40,000/80,000), the duo saw a flop of and Wallace checked to Neumann, who bet 80,000. Wallace check-raised to 400,000, Neumann called, and the appeared on the turn. Wallace led out for pot, and then called when Neumann committed the last of his chips.
Wallace had flopped a full house, but Neumann was drawing live with his trip sevens. Unfortunately for him, the blanked on the river and he had to settle for runner-up and a $140,353 consolation prize.
"I did a little but of research into him and I knew he was solid, definitely more experienced than me, but I have confidence in my game," Wallace said of his heads-up opponent. "I wanted to come out and be a little more aggressive and put the pressure on even with the short stack. Obviously I got lucky on the first big double up, but that's how it goes, you have to get lucky to win these."
Wallace will receive his bracelet at an award ceremony Sunday afternoon, and hours later he'll fly back to Indiana with plans to be back to work on Tuesday. However, his time away from Vegas may be limited as he said there's a good chance he'll return for the Main Event and maybe even the $10,000 PLO Championship.
Congratulations to Aaron Wallace, Event #26: $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha champion!
*Lead photo courtesy of WSOP.com.