Tom Koral Wins Second Bracelet in Event #82: $1,500 NLH Double Stack ($530,164)
Skokie, Illinois' Tom Koral, 35, won his second career bracelet after besting a 2,589-player field to win the 2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Event #82: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack for $530,164. It was the biggest score of Koral's long-standing poker career and his biggest victory since winning his first bracelet in a $1,500 Stud event in 2017.
Koral denied Dutchman Freek Scholten his first — and Holland's seventh — WSOP gold. Two-time bracelet winner Barry Shulman finished in third place and crossed $5.5 million in lifetime winnings.
While Koral is primarily known for his mixed game chops, winning his second bracelet in the most ubiquitous game of all was special to him.
"It means a lot to me specifically because it's hold'em," Koral said to assorted media directly after his victory. "I think a lot of people look at me as mixed games primarily, so this was kind of my way of showing I could still play hold'em," he chuckled.
"It feels great, it feels incredible, and it's sure gonna take a day or two to settle in."
"It feels great, it feels incredible, and it's sure gonna take a day or two to settle in."
Koral's career dates all the way back to 2005, and an impressive poker resumé of over $2 million in lifetime cashes on The Hendon Mob shows he's been successful at all the different poker formats for a long time. Koral shared his secrets for staying fresh, sharp and on top of the game.
"I have a brain that's constantly wandering, so especially when I'm out here for six weeks I can really get in the zone and constantly think about poker and poker hands. Always just analyzing myself: win or lose the hand, I'm always analyzing. It's the constant analysis of my own play to get me to where I am."
"Being very self-reflective and being honest with yourself is probably the most important quality you can have as a poker player and I think I do that pretty well."
Final Table Results
|1||Tom Koral||United States||$530,164|
|3||Barry Shulman||United States||$239,187|
|4||Philip Scaletta||United States||$176,219|
|5||Adam Hendrix||United States||$131,001|
|6||Darren Rabinowitz||United States||$98,274|
Paying to learn
In order to become the all-around player he is today, Koral's skills were sharpened by the tough Chicago games that fellow Chicago pro Brett Richey introduced him to. Richey was on the rail to support his friend towards a second victory.
“He got me into the idea of playing some of these mixed games. When I started, actually, I was probably playing way too high of stakes, and I was really bad. I was probably the guy getting followed around at the tables. I was the soft spot,” Koral laughed.
Koral, however, was willing to pay to learn and saw his investment pay off down the road as the former "mark" now has a second bracelet donning his wrist to join the exclusive club of multiple WSOP bracelet winners.
Final Table Action
Koral came back at noon local time together with seven other competitors for an unscheduled third day to play down to a champion. The American was flanked by four countrymen, Scholten from the Netherlands, and two players from India: Kalyan Cheekuri and Kunal Punjwani.
For the Indians, however, the final table would become one to quickly forget. Cheekuri made a move with an underpair but ran his lone pocket fours into a set of sixes to be the first to leave the final table. Punjwani followed him quickly out of the door when his trip sevens got cracked by another pair of sixes, this time improving to a runner-runner straight.
After playing six-handed for a while, the others would drop off one by one as stacks grew shallow with the 40-minute levels. Darren Rabinowitz lost his final scraps to Shulman before Adam Hendrix had to bow to Scholten in the biggest pot of the tournament at that stage. Hendrix four-bet shipped pocket tens into pocket queens, saw no improvement, and had to depart while being second in chips. Scholten propelled himself to a monster stack as a result.
Koral on Key Heads-Up Hands
Scholten also knocked out Philip Scaletta then denied Shulman his attempt to win a third bracelet to start heads-up play sporting a slight lead over his adversary. However, a key hand would soon take place that saw Koral improve to a lead he wouldn't give up. In the pivotal hand, Koral raised with ace-five first to act and saw Scholten throw in a three-bet.
"First of all, he was a very good player. I think good players like to step on the gas early, to let their opponent know they're not going to be pushed around," Koral explained. "So I was expecting to get three-bet early in the heads-up match. I have an ace heads-up and having position is so valuable."
The flop came jack-jack-ten rainbow and Scholten threw out a small continuation-bet. Bets are often polarized here, according to Koral, and he called figuring his ace-high was still good often enough to call one bet. The turn brought an offsuit deuce and Scholten checked. Koral bet 8.5 million, around 40% of the size of the pot, and Scholten called.
"I want to bet my ace-high for value, a little protection. But I also have position, I can put hands like pocket sixes or ace-nine in a really weird spot," Koral explained. As it turned out, Scholten would check-call with king-queen for king-high and the Broadway draw. An offsuit trey landed on the river and both players checked to award the key pot to Koral.
After the key hand, the Chicagoan widened the gap even further before laying a trap that would finish the talented Dutchman off for good. Holding pocket aces, Koral limped the button. Scholten pushed with the queen-trey of diamonds and Koral snapped it off. He held up to become the fifth player of the summer to win the final hand of the tournament holding the blades.
While this tournament has concluded, there's plenty more coming from the 2019 World Series of Poker. Click here for live updates from the 2019 WSOP Main Event, or click here for an overview of all events that are currently going on in the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Want to watch final tables live? Sign up for PokerGO.
In this Series
- 1 Aria Dealer Nicholas Haynes Wins WSOP $500 Casino Employees Event
- 2 Brian Green Cracks Kings, Beats Imsirovic, Wins First WSOP Bracelet
- 3 Derek McMaster Wins 2019 WSOP Event #4: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better for $228,228
- 4 Yong 'LuckySpewy1' Kwon Wins WSOP Online Bracelet, Hellmuth Fifth for First Summer Cash
- 5 Dan Zack Claims First Bracelet After Fantastic Comeback in WSOP $2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw
- 6 Ben Heath Wins His First Bracelet - Conquers WSOP $50,000 High Roller for $1.48 Million
- 7 Yuval Bronshtein Wins First Bracelet After 10 WSOP Final Table Apperances
- 8 Daniel Strelitz Claims First WSOP Bracelet and $442,385 in Event #11: $5,000 NLHE
- 9 Scott Clements Wins Event #10: $1,500 Dealers Choice ($144,957)
- 10 Jeremy Pekarek Wins Event #9: $600 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack for First Gold Bracelet
- 11 Daniel Park Wins Event #12: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Super Turbo Bounty for $226,243
- 12 Alex Epstein Wins Event #8: $10,000 Short Deck for $296,277
- 13 Femi Fashakin Wins Largest-Ever Poker Tournament; BIG 50 Triumph Earns Him $1,147,449
- 14 Isaac Baron Captures Long-Awaited WSOP Bracelet in Event #16: $1,500 NLH 6-Handed
- 15 Backed by Insane Rail, Murilo Souza Wins $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. ($207,003)
- 16 Sean Swingruber Defeats Ben Yu, Wins First WSOP Bracelet in $10,000 Heads-Up
- 17 Brett Apter Wins First Bracelet in Event #17: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout
- 18 Frankie O'Dell Wins His Third WSOP Omaha Hi-Lo in $10K Championship Event
- 19 Galfond, Bleznick, Zamani Fall Short as Josh "loofa" Pollock Wins Second Bracelet in $600 Online PLO Event
- 20 Eli Elezra Wins Fourth WSOP Bracelet and $93,766 in Event #20: $1,500 Seven Card Stud
- 21 Expecting Father Jorden Fox Conquers Event #22: $1,000 Double Stack to Win $420,693
- 22 Former Main Event Champ Jim Bechtel Wins $10K 2-7 Single-Draw for $253,817
- 23 Rami Boukai Wins 2019 WSOP Event #23: $1,500 8-Game Mix for $177,294
- 24 John Gorsuch Rebounds from 2 Bigs to Win 2019 WSOP Millionaire Maker for $1,344,930
- 25 Andrew Donabedian Turns $600 Into $205,605 Payday at 2019 WSOP
- 26 Michael Mizrachi Wins His Fifth Bracelet!
- 27 Stephen Song Battles To Capture First Bracelet and $341,854 in Event #28: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em
- 28 "Silent Assassin" Thomas Cazayous Wins the WSOP $3K Six-Max for $414,766
- 29 Greg Mueller Wins His Third Bracelet, Takes Down WSOP $10,000 H.O.R.S.E.
- 30 Luis Zedan Wins 2019 WSOP Event #30: $1K PLO for $236,673; Will Donate 35% to Charity
- 31 Roman Korenev Wins 2019 WSOP Event #26 for $477,401 After "Marathon" Battle
- 32 Australian Robert Campbell Wins Maiden WSOP Bracelet in $1,500 Limit 2-7
- 33 Upeshka "gomezhamburg" De Silva Wins His Third Bracelet in WSOP Online Event
- 34 Howard Mash Wins First Bracelet and $662,594 in WSOP Seniors Championship
- 35 Adam Friedman Goes Back-to-Back in WSOP $10,000 Dealer's Choice Championship
- 36 David Lambard Claims First WSOP Bracelet in Event #36: $3,000 NLH Shootout
- 37 Salt Lake's Robert Mitchell Wins Event #37: $800 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack ($297,537)
- 38 Joseph Cheong Breaks Through, Wins $1K Double Stack for $687,782
- 39 Ismael Bojang Wins WSOP Gold Bracelet and $298,507 in 10th 2019 WSOP Cash
- 40 Hennigan Wins Sixth Bracelet in $10,000 Seven Card Stud, Negreanu Second
- 41 Dan 'centrfieldr' Lupo Wins $500 WSOP.com ONLINE No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack for $145,274
- 42 Aristeidis Moschonas Turns Chip-and-a-Chair into Event #42: $600 Mixed NLH/PLO Deepstack Win
- 43 Michael Blake Wins Event #39: $1,000 Super Seniors No-Limit Hold'em, Shulman Second
- 44 Loren Klein Wins 4th Bracelet in 4 Years; Claims $127,808 in Event #43: $2,500 Mixed Big Bet
- 45 Asi Moshe Captures Third WSOP Bracelet in $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Bounty
- 46 Stephen Chidwick Captures First WSOP Bracelet in Event #45: $25K PLO High Roller for $1,618,417
- 47 Ari Engel Wins His First WSOP Bracelet and $427,399 in Event #48: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em
- 48 Luke Schwartz Latest To Win First Bracelet, Triumphs in $10K 2-7 Championship
- 49 South Korea's Jiyoung Kim Wins 2019 WSOP Ladies Championship for $167,308
- 50 Jason "TheBigGift" Gooch Does It; Wins $1,000 WSOP.com Online Event!
- 51 Brazil's Yuri Martins Dzivielevski Captures First Bracelet and $213,750!
- 52 WCOOP Winner Jonas Lauck Secures First WSOP Bracelet and $260,335 in $1,500 Turbo Bounty
- 53 Santiago Soriano Wins $371,203 and First Bracelet in the WSOP $800 Deepstack
- 54 Dash Dudley Wins Event #52: $10,000 PLO Championship ($1,086,967)
- 55 Kevin Gerhart Dominates $1,500 Razz Final Table to Win First WSOP Bracelet and $119,054
- 56 Another Day, Another Millionaire; Kainalu McCue-Unciano Wins the WSOP Monster Stack
- 57 Israel's Team Geiger Wins WSOP $1,000 Tag Team Event
- 58 Joe Foresman Wins 2019 WSOP $600 Deepstack Championship for Nearly $400K
- 59 Anthony Zinno Wins 2019 WSOP $1,500 PLO Hi-Lo for 2nd Career Bracelet; Aims for POY
- 60 Phil Hui's Dream Comes True as He Conquers $50K Poker Players Championship for $1,099,311
- 61 Scott Seiver Wins $10,000 Razz Championship for Third WSOP Bracelet
- 62 Anatolii Zyrin Denies Yueqi Zhu Title Defense to Win WSOP $1,500 Omaha Mix Title
- 63 Sejin Park Claims First-Ever Open Event Bracelet for South Korea; Wins 2019 WSOP Colossus for $451,272
- 64 Nicholas "Illari" Baris Wins $303,739 in Massive WSOP.com ONLINE Championship
- 65 Nick Schulman Wins Third Bracelet in Event #65: $10,000 PLO8 or Better Championship
- 66 David “ODB” Baker Steamrolls $1,500 Limit Hold’em to Capture 2nd WSOP Gold Bracelet
- 67 Robert Campbell Wins His Second Bracelet of the Summer in $10K Stud Hi-Lo, Grabs POY Lead
- 68 French Pro Jeremy Saderne Wins 2019 WSOP Mini Main Event ($628,654)
- 69 From Working at In-N-Out Burger to Crushing Poker; Rick Alvarado Triumphs in WSOP Crazy Eights for $888,888
- 70 Brandon "DrOctagon" Adams Wins WSOP.com ONLINE High Roller for $411,560
- 71 High Roller Joao Vieira Wins First Bracelet and $758,011 in $5,000 6-Max
- 72 Juha Helppi Finally Does It: Finnish Poker Hero Claims First Bracelet in $10K Limit!
- 73 Susan Faber Wins First Bracelet in Event #71: $500 Salute to Warriors No-Limit Hold'em
- 74 Shawn "bucky21" Buchanan Wins His First Bracelets, Takes Down $800 WSOP.com ONLINE 6-Max ($223,119)
- 75 Danny Tang Wins $50,000 Final Fifty for $1,608,406: "I Want to go Down in the History Books"
- 76 Tu Dao Wins WSOP $3,000 Limit Hold'em 6-Max for $133,189
- 77 James Anderson Wins 2019 WSOP Little One for One Drop for $690,686
- 78 Denmark's Maximilian Klostermeier Wins First Bracelet in Event #78: $1,500 PLO Bounty
- 79 Shankar Pillai Takes Down 2019 WSOP $1,500 Bracelet Winners Only Event
- 80 Ivan Deyra's Dream Comes True; Wins Event #79: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em ($380,090)
- 81 Boyhood Dream Achieved: Jerry Odeen Wins WSOP Bracelet for $304,793
- 82 Keith Tilston Wins 2019 WSOP $100K High Roller; Negreanu Finishes as Runner-Up
- 83 Tom Koral Wins Second Bracelet in Event #82: $1,500 NLH Double Stack ($530,164)
- 84 Taylor "Galactar" Paur Wins his Second Bracelet in $500 WSOP.com ONLINE Summer Saver
- 85 Abhinav Iyer Takes Down The Closer to Win His First Bracelet and $565,346
- 86 Alan Sternberg Wins $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed for First WSOP Bracelet
- 87 Carl Shaw Defeats Tony Dunst to Claim First Bracelet & $606,562, Hellmuth Sixth
- 88 Anuj Agarwal Wins $10K 6-Max on Last Day of 2019 WSOP ($630,747)
- 89 Denis Strebkov Wins His First Bracelet and $206,173 Top-Prize in $3k H.O.R.S.E.
- 90 Hossein Ensan Wins the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event for $10,000,000