The 2018 World Series of Poker has crowned the fourth gold bracelet winner of the summer festival in Sin City, as Event #4: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better played down to a winner. Initially Scheduled as a three-day event, the field size of 911 could not be whittled down to a champion just yet.
An extra day was added with Julien Martini and Kate Hoang as the two big stacks. Mack Lee as well as William Kopp also returned, but on thin ice. It came as no surprise that Martini and Hoang ended up fighting for the title and first-place bracelet with the better ending coming for the Frenchman. Martini earned $239,771 for his efforts, the 18th WSOP bracelet for his home country, and the 13th French bracelet in Las Vegas, while Hoang had to settle for a payday of $148,150.
Hoang already had six WSOP cashes to her name for a total of $252,466, all involving Omaha hi/lo events, with a runner-up finish in the 2016 WSOP Event #64: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better and an eighth-place finish in the 2017 WSOP Event #51: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship as her best result. She works as a dental office manager and put up a fierce fight; the heads-up battle lasted almost three and a half hours in total.
Asked about the heads-up duel with Hoang, Martini had the following to say: "Just being patient and taking my time on every decision, and otherwise tried to take my time on every decision. I was very short once, but always believed in it."
It was the first bracelet for Martini, who had dreamed of this since he took on poker. "It was a dream when I was 14 years old. What kind of guy can win a $1,500 tournament or a $10,000? I was dreaming about this for seven years, and it is one of the best things in my life. I am very proud and super happy."
With the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship already underway on Day 1, Martini confirmed that he will be entering the competition to take another shot at glory. Whether or not he will face Hoang there once more remains to be seen, and the Frenchman noticed a particular playing style of Hoang. "I played with her a lot on Day 2 and Day 3. She is playing great, actually. She is very unconventional, I am not used to play this kind of player. She is very tough and very hard to play, and a great opponent."
Of the final 16 players, 15 were from the United States and the sole non-American emerged victorious. "Maybe it is because of the game. Hi-lo is played mostly in the U.S., and I live in Asia, born in Europe, and I don't know anyone who plays limit." Martini was railed by Taiwan's James Chen, who was eliminated in 23rd place for $6,764 midway through Day 3 and ended up as part of the group winner shot.
About the Event
The event drew a total of 911 entries and Martini followed into the footsteps of Benny Glaser and Benjamin Zamani. Glaser defeated a 934-entry field back in 2016 before also claiming his third bracelet a few days later in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship. Zamani won his second WSOP bracelet in 2017 after defeating a field of 905 entries.
The money bubble of the 2018 edition burst mid-way through to Day 2 and among those to bust before bagging and tagging were the likes of Ryan Laplante (133rd place, $2,252), Chris Tryba (123rd place, $2,317), Robert Mizrachi (90th place, $2,595), John Racener (86th place, $2,595), John Monnette (67th place, $3,127), Benny Glaser (63rd place, $3,526), Perry Friedman (54th place, $4,046), Shaun Deeb (44th place, $4,723), and Peter Eichhardt (39th place, $4,723).
Only 36 players remained for Day 3 and four former bracelet winners were in contention. Mike Leah (30th place, $5,605), Jason Lester (28th place, $5,605), Mike Wattel (21st place, $6,764), and Chris Bjorin (17th place, $8,296) all fell short in their bid for another coveted gold bracelet. Jeff Shulman (12th place, $13,091) narrowly missed out on the final table, and the final level of the night saw the departure of Chad Eveslage (6th place, $39,182) and Brandon Ageloff (5th place, $53,482).
Action of the Final Day
Julien Martini and Kate Hoang were the big stacks when action resumed while William Kopp and Mack Lee were fighting for the pay jump with just over two big bets each. It was Kopp that missed out on extra money. Lee chopped with Hoang for his tournament life and the very next hand brought the next all-in showdown only a few minutes into the day. Kopp three-bet preflop and jammed a jack-ten high flop with ace-queen-queen-ten for an overpair and gutshot straight draw. Hoang called with king-seven-four-deuce for bottom pair, backdoor low, and flush draw. Hoang turned two pair and the river was a blank to reduce the field to the last three.
What followed was a persistent fight by Lee, who tripled once and doubled twice before losing half of his stack again. Ultimately, Lee got it in after a queen-jack high flop with kings and a straight draw. Martini looked him up with top set and improved to a full house on the turn, then dodged the two-outer on the river to set up the duel for the bracelet.
After a slow start to the battle one-versus-one, the stacks and swings became bigger and both Martini and Hoang had a commanding lead within half an hour. Martini scooped two big pots in back-to-back hands to pull into a five-to-one lead. However, four pots in a row for Hoang nearly evened out the stacks once more.
It would take almost three and a half hours to finally crown a champion and Hoang lost a big pot before bet-folding a double-paired board with one third of a big bet remaining. One double-up and one split pot later, Hoang ended up all in and at risk in the third consecutive hand and couldn't escape from her fate anymore.
That wraps up the PokerNews live coverage from the fourth bracelet event of the summer, while the cards and chips are flying in several other tournaments at this very moment.