It’s not often an unknown player ventures to Las Vegas, enters a five-figure buy-in mixed-game tournament against the world’s best players, and comes out on top to win more than half a million dollars. But that’s exactly what happened in just the second event of the 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Event #2: $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. attracted 78 runners and offered up a $1,842,750 prize pool, including a $552,182 top prize. After three days of play, 44-year-old Jesse Klein emerged victorious over a stacked final table – one representing a combined 22 gold bracelets – to etch his name in poker history.
Klein, who hails from the Philadelphia area, flew out on Thursday with the sole intention of playing the first big buy-in tournament of the series. The owner of a recruiting business, the father of two hasn’t cashed a tournament since 2010 due to one reason, he prefers to play high-stakes mixed cash games.
Despite not having played a lot lately due to the pandemic, the allure of the $25K H.O.R.S.E. was too much to resist.
“I just came out here to play this event and go home Sunday,” said Klein, who according to The Hendon Mob had just $23,100 in lifetime earnings before the win. “I have a wife and two kids – a six-year-old girl and a three-year-old son. I came out here to play this event and that’s it. Maybe I’ll come back out here since I won this.”
2021 WSOP Event #2: $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. Final Table Results
|Position||Winner||Country||Prize (in USD)|
|1||Jesse Klein||United States||$552,182|
|2||Benny Glaser||United Kingdom||$341,274|
|4||Chad Eveslage||United States||$169,218|
|5||Philip Sternheimer||United Kingdom||$124,935|
|6||Phil Hellmuth||United States||$95,329|
|7||Ben Yu||United States||$75,260|
|8||DJ Buckley||United States||$61,549|
|9||Matt Glantz||United States||$52,211|
Klein continued: “I’m feeling great. It was a lot of fun. The players were awesome, it was an awesome structure. I’m feeling good. I play poker to win, but I don’t play poker professionally. The H.O.R.S.E. event is what I wanted to play. I love all the different games. It’s just fun.”
Not only did Klein check off “winning a WSOP gold bracelet” off his bucket list, but he also checked off “Tilting the Poker Brat.”
“That was great, that was phenomenal. I’ve never played with him before,” Klein said in regards to Phil Hellmuth, who was seeking his record-extending 16th bracelet. “In a Razz hand he limped and I completed. I made a nine and I think he made a ten, he just went off and I loved it. It made me laugh, all that kind of stuff cracks me up. It’s part of the entertainment I guess.”
Hellmuth wasn’t the only bracelet winner Klein contended with on his way to claiming his own. He also outlasted three-time winners Ben Yu and Benny Glaser, as well as bracelet winner and World Poker Tour (WPT) champ David Benyamine.
“I’m not intimidated ever playing poker,” Klein said confidently. “When you’re comfortable playing different games you just play your game. You try not to get too high or too low, just stay steady.”
After the final hand, Klein called his wife, who shed some tears of joy.
“I’ve got a gold bracelet. I’m fired up. I love playing poker,” Klein said with a smile. “This event was about as competitive as can be. A perfect little couple of days.”
The Road to Victory for Klein
Klein entered the final table second in chips trailing only Glaser and was always near the top of the leaderboard except for a brief spell during which he dropped into the middle of the pack. The momentum started to shift towards Klein when he won a Razz pot against Hellmuth, who needed a while to calm down again.
By then, the field was already down to the final six players with the departures of Matt Glantz, DJ Buckley, and Yu. Hellmuth never recovered from the fatal blow to his stack and bowed out in sixth place. Right after, Philip Sternheimer became the next casualty in a seven-card Stud hand and Chad Eveslage followed shortly thereafter as Glaser notched up his second knockout in a row.
Three-handed play saw Glaser move into a solid lead but the tides turned in favor of Klein when he claimed back-to-back Razz pots against the Brit. From there on, Klein pulled further ahead and as the limits moved up, both Benyamine and Glaser succumbed to their short stacks.
Congratulations to Jesse Klein, winner of the 2021 WSOP Event #2: $25,000 H.O.R.S.E.!