Brian Hastings has some competition in the 2015 bracelet chase.
Max Pescatori captured his second bracelet of the 2015 World Series of Poker – tying Hastings – by winning Event #41: $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Championship. He won $292,158 in prize money for coming out atop the 111-player field.
The “Italian Pirate” vaulted into the rarefied air of four-time bracelet winners, joining a club that includes names like Bobby Baldwin and Amarillo Slim. To do so, he had to overcome well-respected British pro Stephen Chidwick and six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu in a brutal three-handed match.
Pescatori had just a few bets remaining when limits hit 50,000/100,000, and a heads-up match between Negreanu and Chidwick looked inevitable. But with the limits so large relative to stacks – only a little over 3.3 million was in play – as Pescatori said, “if you can hang on, you can come back.”
He did just that, first doubling up with a seven-high straight to scoop against Negreanu's tens in the hole. Then, a huge hand developed again between the two when Pescatori completed showing a and Negreanu raised from the bring-in with . Pescatori fired back another raise, which Negreanu called.
Negreanu took command of the betting on fourth and fifth, and Pescatori looked very close to folding on fifth. After tanking a bit, he decided to call, and both checked on sixth. Negreanu bet on the end and tank-called Pescatori's raise with , saying he missed the steel wheel and backed into trips. Pescatori had better trips with in the hole.
“I was close to folding,” Pescatori said of the hand. “Daniel is aggressive, so if his board is good, he's not going to stop betting. In the end, it was a good read.”
Negreanu, for his part, never really recovered and busted in third shortly thereafter. He had held the chip lead three-handed just hours before and called the key hand “a crushing blow.”
“It was frustrating because I was in good chip position and felt in control,” he said, adding that he felt he played well and the cards just wouldn't cooperate.
Pescatori pulled nearly even with Chidwick after finishing Negreanu off and prevailed after a couple of hours of heads-up play, denying the Brit a long-awaited first bracelet.
Pescatori hadn't tasted WSOP gold since 2008. He cited several reasons for the drought, which he broke by taking down Event #9: $1,500 Razz for $155,947 earlier this summer. For one thing, he said personal problems plagued him in some years, distracting him from the game. Another factor was an explosion in hold'em popularity in Italy, where Pescatori would spend a few months each year. Playing hold'em there dulled his abilities in other games, which were his bread and butter in Las Vegas.
Last year, Pescatori knew he needed to make some adjustments to his preparation if he wanted to turn around his declining results. He spent a solid month ahead of the WSOP preparing for the summer, and it paid off when he made a deep run in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E., finishing fifth for $112,066. That encouraged him to up the ante even further.
“This year, I started to prepare for the World Series in February,” he said, adding that he specifically worked on his Stud hi-low game. “I really focused. I practiced this game for months, so I thought this was my best shot.”
Now, he finds himself squarely in the chase for WSOP Player of the Year, something he admitted is on his mind now.
“To have the picture up there forever, it's something nobody can take away,” he said of the banners that hang from the rafters immortalizing past winners of the award.
He's now considering entering the Poker Players' Championship, which will have registration open until the start of Day 2 on Monday. He said he will look at the GPI standings and see where he stands, making a decision from there. For now, he's savoring this win.
“It's a fantastic feeling to put in the work, and it becomes an amazing result like this.”
Final Table Results
|1||Max Pescatori||Milan, Italy||$292,158|
|2||Stephen Chidwick||Deal, UK||$180,529|
|3||Daniel Negreanu||Toronto, Canada||$113,062|
|4||Aleksandr Denisov||Moscow, Russia||$81,865|
|5||Gary Benson||Sylvania Southgate, Australia||$63,981|
|6||Thomas Butzhammer||Wien, Austria||$51,022|
|7||Richard Sklar||Las Vegas, NV||$41,433|
|8||Alan Ledford||Wilmington, OH||$34,192|