Three days ago 387 players began play of Event #24: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout, and now there stands only one. Mark Radoja was able to defeat Jeffrey Gross heads up to capture $436,568 in prize money and his very first gold WSOP bracelet.
The field began with 40 tables stacked with nine or ten players, each of them had a simple goal: be the last man standing at that table. As simple as that may sound in theory, the structure of this tournament makes for many day-one eliminations and all around tragedy for many players. Some played heads up at their table for hours only to be sent to the rail with no prize money whatsoever. Day one saw many casualties such as Jeffrey Lisandro, Jason Mercier, Barry Greenstein, Oliver Busquet, David Benyamine, and many more. However, the 40 players that were able to best their table and advance through the day were guaranteed a cash prize and at the very least a one in forty shot at a WSOP bracelet.
Day two brought a different challenge to the players, formatted with ten tables of four players each. Beginning short handed, the players would have to beat three other competitors at their table once again in order to be promised a spot at the final table. 30 more players were eliminated from the field this day, including Gavin Smith, Tommy Vedes, Erik Seidel, Justin Bonomo, and JP Kelly. That being said, ten men advanced through the field and comprised the final table.
Surrounded by the lights and glamor of the ESPN Final Table set, ten men began today with a WSOP bracelet and over $400,000 in prize money in mind. Throughout the day, the chip lead traded places between many different players. Once the field was down to the final five, it seemed no one would be sent to the rail, as the short stacks continuously doubled up. However, as the blinds continued to raise and the pressure went up, one by one players were eliminated, bringing us down to the final two competitors: Mark Radoja and Jeffrey Gross.
Each player had an extremely large and enthusiastic cheering section behind them, loudly and passionately rooting them on for every pot they scooped, or consoling them for the pots they lost. Radoja began heads up play with a two to one chip lead and never relinquished his lead. Gross managed to double up once but never crossed the six million chip mark. Eventually, from a preflop all in, Radoja's was able to defeat Gross' , and Radoja and his section exploded in cheers of joy.
With this win, Radoja has more than doubled his WSOP tournament winnings. Last year, Radoja had his highest finish in a WSOP event, coming in 3rd in the $5,000 Six-Handed Hold'em event, but now he has finally topped that, earning his first bracelet tonight.
PokerNews sends their congratulations to Mark Radoja for taking down this tournament, a gold WSOP bracelet, and $436,568 in prize money.