Jason Mercier may be grabbing all of the headlines this summer, but Ian Johns just joined him as the second two-time winner of the 2016 World Series of Poker. Johns won Event #28: $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship for $290,635 on Monday night, topping a field of 110 entries.
"This one's a little more elation," Johns said of this gold bracelet win. "I don't know what to say. I can't believe it. It's so far out there. I don't even play a lot of tournaments, so I never even dreamed of winning two in a year. I've never even thought about it."
Johns was heads up with Sean Berrios, and the two were separated by two big bets when they started heads-up play. They then battled back and forth for about two hours, and in the end it was Johns who finished on top.
Johns not only scored his second WSOP gold bracelet of the summer, but he won his third overall. Earlier this summer, Johns won Event #8: $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. for $212,604, finishing atop a 778-player field in that one and beating Justin Bonomo in heads-up play.
With the win, Johns moved to over $1.15 million in career live tournament earnings. He also added 377.96 points to his total for WSOP Player of the Year and moved to third in the race.
"When I won the bracelet last time, and now this time, I was so focused," he added. "It was at a level I've never reached. I was just so in tune with what was going on, not making mistakes. It's kind of surreal. A lot of times you play poker your mind can kind of drift. The last couple of days, and when I won the bracelet two weeks ago, my mind wasn't drifting at all. I was locked in on what was going on. I think that's a big reason why you see [multiple bracelet winners at the WSOP]. A guy like Jason Mercier or guys like that, you just get so locked in on what you're doing. It's a level of focus you just don't get to all that much. I hope I can do it some more."
Final Table Results
|9||Anh Van Nguyen||$24,140|
Johns came into the official final table second in chips. He then busted Brian Rast in eighth place and Alexander Balynskiy in third place before he got heads up with Berrios. The two were nearly even in chips when they started the duel, but Johns quickly took the lead and then widened the gap. Berrios came back to retake the lead, but it was short-lived, as Johns worked his way back in front. Berrios was never able to get back in front, and just before the limits went up to 100,000/200,000, Johns scooped a big pot with the nuts.
On that hand, Johns made the nut full house with the on a board of . He got value on all three post-flop streets and left Johns with 12 big bets. He then made a flush after the level went up to leave Berrios with just four big bets, and that was pretty much all she wrote.
On the final hand, the two got all the money in on the board. Berrios had the for ace high and needed to find the river against Johns' for a pair of eights and a flush draw.
The on the river wasn't in the wheelhouse in Berrios, and he was eliminated in second place for $179,625.
Winning this bracelet is extra special for someone like Johns, who loves limit hold'em even though some view it as a dying, or dead, game. Johns is a guest instructor for the limit hold'em section at Rep Porter's The Poker Academy, and now there's even more reason for students to listen to what Johns has to say.
"Limit hold'em is super fun game," he said. "It's very fast and you're constantly making decisions. Brian Rast, who I played with in this tournament, was saying, 'Man, this game is so fast.' The hands take 90 seconds instead of four minutes, and you're on to the next one. In this game you have all these fast, incremental decisions you need to make, and I've spent the last 12 years trying to perfect all those little incremental decisions and that's sort of why I like it, you're not stuck sitting there watching two guys take nine minutes to play a hand."
Johns, who doesn't categorize himself as a no-limit hold'em player at all, wasn't planning on playing even the WSOP Main Event, which might sound shocking to most. Generally speaking, any poker player, mixed-game specialist or not, will take a shot in the big one because everyone knows anything can happen and the reward is so large. Now with these two big wins, Johns is giving it second thought.
"I'm an awful, awful, awful no limit player," he said. "I just couldn't be any worse at it. So my desire to play the $1,500 or $2,000 no-limit tournaments is just not there. I'll probably play the Main Event this year now, and I wasn't planning it originally."