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Moment of the Week: 1993 WSOP Main Event Champ Jim Bechtel Ends 26-Year Drought

Jim Bechtel

Week 2 of the 2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is in the books, and it ended in exciting fashion as a blast from poker’s past made a run at a second gold bracelet.

Twenty-six years ago, Arizona cotton farmer Jim Bechtel topped a 231-player field to win the 1993 WSOP Main Event for $1,000,000. He became just the second amateur to win the “Big One” after Hal Fowler did it in 1979.

While Bechtel has made periodic returns to Vegas over the past three decades, including a 121st-place finish in the 2015 WSOP Main Event for $46,890, he hadn’t really come close to a second bracelet since finishing fourth in the inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E., which has since come to be known as the Poker Players Championship, back in 2005.

That changed in Event #21: $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw Championship as Bechtel navigated a 91-entry field to make the final table thanks in large part to a big hand on Day 2.

Putting Himself in a Position to Win

It happened in Level 14 (3,000/60,000/9,000) when Darren Elias raised to 16,000 from under the gun, Julien Martini three-bet to 52,000 from the cutoff and Majid Yahyaei called from the button. Bechtel four-bet to 150,000 from the small blind, Elias folded, Martini called and Yahyaei called.

Everyone drew one card and Bechtel shoved for 274,000. Martini folded and Yahyaei called.

Bechtel tabled {7-}{5-}{4-}{3-}{2-} for a wheel, Yahyaei showed a defeated {8-}{7-}{6-}{4-}{3-} and Bechtel won the hefty pot.

Jean-Robert Bellande
Jean-Robert Bellande

Along the way to the final table, Bechtel eliminated the likes of Martini and Alex Balandin, while at the final table he sent the one-time chip leader packing. Jean-Robert Bellande started the final table with the big stack but saw his chips fluctuate. In Level 20 (10,000/25,000/35,000), Bechtel raised to 70,000 under the gun and called when JRB three-bet all in for 380,000 from the button.

Bechtel drew one and Bellande stood pat.

Bechtel: {8-}{6-}{3-}{2-}
Bellande: {j-}{9-}{6-}{5-}{2-}

Bechtel quickly ripped over a {j-}, making a jack-eight to eliminate Bellande in fifth place.

Ending the Drought

Bechtel would then dispatch Elias in third place after the former stood pat with a jack-ten low and the latter drew one to a nine-eight low. Elias paired his nine and hit the rail in third place, which set up a heads-up match between Bechtel and Vince Musso with the latter holding a slight lead.

Vince Musso
Vince Musso

The 77-year-old Musso pulled out to a big lead but Bechtel wouldn’t give up without a fight. He battled back and soon took over the chip lead. Then in Level 22 (20,00040,000/60,000), Musso raised to 200,000 and Bechtel jammed all in for about 1.6 million effective. Musso leaned back in his chair, thought awhile and called. Bechtel pitched a card and Musso showed what he had to beat: {j-}{9-}{6-}{4-}{2-} for a pat jack.

Bechtel was drawing to {8-}{6-}{4-}{2-}. He didn't squeeze, just flipped over his last card, a {9-} to make the winning hand and bust Musso.

With that, Bechtel captured his second WSOP bracelet, plus $253,817 in prize money, and the 26 years in between them established a new WSOP record.

Keep following the PokerNews live updates as all the exciting moments of the 2019 World Series of Poker are brought to you from the tournament floor. The WSOP Moment of the Week is sponsored by Global Poker.

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  • 1993 @WSOP champ Jim Bechtel captured his 2nd gold bracelet in 2019. Article sponsored by @official_glp

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Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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