Chess Grandmaster Konstantin Maslak Bags WSOP Gold in Event #13
Konstantin Maslak has now reached the pinnacle of two games.
In 2008, the avid chess player from Russia rose to the rank of Grandmaster. On Saturday, at the 2015 World Series of Poker, Maslak took down Event #13: $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, a tournament that drew 474 runners for a prize pool of $1,078,350, to join the ranks of WSOP bracelet winners and take home a first-place prize of $269,612.
Maslak outlasted a strong Day 3 field that included the likes of Scotty Nguyen (39th), John Racener (37th), James Obst (34th), Brian Rast (33rd), Vladimir Shchemelev (24th), Aditya Prasetyo (21st), Eric Wasserson (19th), Barry Shulman (17th), and Eric Buchman (10th). He already had a big cash locked up, but things looked relatively grim as far as taking down the bracelet went when the final three players bagged up for the night to return for an unscheduled Day 4. Maslak had a stack of 975,000, good for just six big bets with limits heading to 80,000/160,000. Hani Awad, meanwhile, had 3.3 million, while Benjamin Dobson had 1.645 million.
However, with limits so high relative to the stacks things can change quickly, and they did. According to the live updates from the event, he battled through what looked to be about a breakeven round of Omaha before scooping a pot with a Broadway straight on the first hand of stud. More stud hands proved even more lucrative. Shortly after another scoop, Maslak eliminated Dobson in a stud hand with / against Dobson's / as Dobson failed to improve and Maslak hit two pair on the end.
Limits went up with Awad holding a 3-2 lead, and he increased that to 3-1 when Level 33 (120,000/240,000) hit. After that, it was all Maslak as he made a set of queens in Omaha to gather the majority of the chips and then finished Awad off in a couple of stud hands.
The cash was already Maslak's third of the series as he also took 103rd in Event #3: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo for $2,354 and 884th in Event #5: The Colossus $565 No-Limit Hold'em for $3,635. He also had five previous WSOP cashes for a total of $33,469.
If Maslak can continue to pile up scores in the WSOP, perhaps his poker career will some day measure up to his chess accomplishments. In perhaps the world's most famous strategy game, Maslak holds an ELO rating of 2566, good for 394th in the world, although a glance over his chess record reveals his last active year to be 2010. He then played nine games in September 2011 and presumably turned his energies to poker.