Yesterday at the World Series of Poker the fickle fate of tournament poker was laid bare, as Event #20: $1,500 “Millionaire Maker” saw two players swap fortunes on the final day of play.
Veteran tournament player Ralph Perry, a bracelet Sportsbook who notched his first WSOP cash back in 1994, certainly had the experience edge entering the day – and the chip lead along with it. But despite beginning 1/14 on the leaderboard to begin Day 4, Perry found himself sent to the rail with a disappointing 12th place finish ($86,375).
On the other side of poker’s variance spectrum was Pablo Mariz, a relative rookie who recorded his first cash in 2012 while playing $150 nightly events back home in Montreal. Riding the momentum from a runner-up finish in Event #2: $1,000 NLHE Tag-Team to kick off his summer, Mariz made a deep run in the Millionaire Maker – but sat in 12th place on the leaderboard.
After scoring a quick double to start Day 4, Mariz never looked back, weaving his way through a talented final table that featured pros like Bryce Yockey (fifth place - $317,544) and Marc MacDonnell (fourth place - $420,805) to take down top honors.
As a reward for his epic comeback victory – and defeating a field of 7,761 entrants – Mariz earned the $1,221,407 top prize that gives this tournament its name, along with that coveted first gold bracelet in his first career win.
Another first occurred in Event #24: $1,500 Limit Hold’em, where Shane Buchwald broke through for his first bracelet win – in his very first WSOP event.
A 33-year old American expat by way of Brazil, having relocated to play online poker post-Black Friday, Buchwald took a 25-hour redeye to Las Vegas at the behest of some buddies. As they say, one thing led to another, and three days later Buchwald was the last man standing from a field of 616 runners.
He pocketed $177,985 for the first-place performance, well-deserved after outlasting experienced Limit grinders like Ray Henson (third place - $75,780), Nancy Nguyen (fifth place - $37,850), and Barry Greenstein (11th place - $9,085).
Looking ahead to Thursday’s action, Event #23: $2,650 “The Marathaon” – a five-day event featuring 100-minute levels – is down to 56 survivors from the 1,759-player field.
The leaderboard is stacked too, with pros Faraz Jaka (2,838,000), Maurice Hawkins (2,423,000), and John Phan (2,374,000) atop the counts.