Poker is a cruel game, plain and simple.
Daniel Negreanu knows that better than most, but after bringing the chip lead into the final table of Event #62: $50,000 Poker Players Championship (Six-Handed), his fifth-place finish was an especially bitter pill to swallow.
Negreanu had all eyes in the poker world fixed squarely on him Thursday, playing in the professionals’ version of the World Series of Poker Main Event with yet another shot to claim his seventh gold bracelet. The tournament had played out like a dream for “Kid Poker” over four days prior, and every intention Negreanu set out for himself seemed to come true.
Except the victory.
In the end, that was earned by Elior Sion – a relative unknown hailing from London, England who counted a win in a $3,000 event at the Sky Max Poker Championships as his career highlight. Sion isn’t a tournament player by trade and, in fact, his last recorded cash before yesterday’s momentous win came in the very same Poker Players Championship last summer – where he finished ninth for $116,571.
This time around, he upped the ante to $1,395,767 by winning the eight-game mixed event many poker experts deem to be the most difficult of all.
And along the way, Sion proved the oft-repeated poker maxim about “a chip and a chair” to be eminently true.
Back on Day 3, Sion dropped a huge hand in Pot-Limit Omaha to leave himself with just 60,000 – just over the big bet of 50,000 at the time. In effect, he was left with just a single betting unit to work with, but a fortuitous double led to another, and soon enough Sion had regained his traction.
He sat down at the final table third in chips with 4,750,000, trailing only Negreanu (5,930,000) and Isaac Haxton (5,205,000), while Johannes Becker (4,560,000), Ivo Donev (2,990,000), and two-time bracelet Sportsbook Paul Volpe (1,570,000) brought up the rear.
Volpe couldn’t spin up his short stack and bowed out in sixth place ($220,111), while Negreanu suffered from a terrible run of cards and luck to exit fifth ($300,852).
Donev was the next to go (fourth place - $419,337), losing with pocket kings to Haxton’s pocket fives in a hand of No-Limit Hold’em when a five fell on the river.
Sion used a hand of Seven Card Stud to dispatch Haxton in third place ($595,812), setting up a marathon heads-up match with Becker that lasted for five hours. The lead was exchanged multiple times during the grueling session, but Sion finally flopped a full house in a hand of Pot-Limit Omaha to send Becker packing (second place - $862,649).
Sion’s first bracelet win was worth $1,395,767 – more than twice his career earnings to that point – but having his name etched on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy is a reward that will last a lifetime.