Omar Eljach, on a quest for his first World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, fulfilled his goal in a big way. He didn’t just win a bracelet, he won the WSOP Europe Main Event, which set a record for attendance.
It wasn’t a smooth road to victory for Eljach, who had to overcome a number of seasoned vets to grab the gold. The field included 763 entries, 75 more than last year’s record-setting Main Event.
Among the pros Eljach stepped over to capture the win were Barny Boatman and Shaun Deeb, both of whom made it to the final table. Others, such as Vegas regular Roland Israelashvili, bowed out long before.
Fight for Glory
Eljach and five-time WSOP bracelet winner Deeb led the field of eight on the last day of action on Wednesday. As the chips and cards began to fly, France’s Alexandre Reard was the first victim when Eljach shut him down. His pocket aces became a set, and then a flush, which took down Reard’s pocket queens.
Boatman was in a good spot to gain ground when he picked up pocket aces against Deeb as well. However, he didn’t realize that his opponent scored two pair on the flop, and Deeb controlled the hand.
Eljach then claimed another victim when he answered a shove by Armin Rezaei and his J-J. An Ace on the flop was all he needed to eliminate another player and fatten his stack.
At this point, several hours into the game, Deeb was in a good spot, holding about half of all the chips on the table. However, he fell into a drought that continued until there were only three players remaining.
The run of bad cards cost him big, as Eljach bullied him with suited Q-3 against A-J offsuit. A 3 on the flop was enough to send Deeb to the rail and give Eljach more breathing room. Still, his performance was good enough to take home about $610K.
Only one player remained, and he wouldn’t go down without a fight. Eljach and Jonathan Pastore fought for over six hours, swapping stacks and mounting comebacks as they clung to the hope of scoring the biggest tourney of the year.
No Guts, No Glory
Finally, it was time to put it all on the line. Preflop betting increased until Pastore four-bet shoved with his A-8 offsuit. Eljach answered with the larger stack, revealing Q-Q. With nothing higher than a J on the board, Eljach’s queens held up and a new bracelet winner was crowned.
It’s really hard to describe. So many emotions, all of them amazing; such a draining battle. I feel relief, I feel incredible joy. Yeah, it’s an amazing feeling,” Eljach said following his victory.
Eljach, who also took €152,827 (US$158,000) for his second-place finish at a WSOPE Pot-Limit Omaha event, added €1.38 million (US$1.42 million) to his bankroll with the Main Event win. Pastore, who is coming off a recent title-winning performance at the $5,000 NLHE 6-Handed event at this summer’s WSOP in Las Vegas, added €852,949 (US$881,863).
With that, the WSOP wraps up a year of record performances. Preparations are now underway for 2023, which will almost certainly include returns to Las Vegas and Rozvadov, Czech Republic.
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