British Craig McCorkell Wins WSOP Event #36

British Craig McCorkell Wins WSOP Event #36Craig McCorkell recorded his first major tournament victory by pocketing $368,593 for taking down event #36 at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

The 26-year-old pro also notched Britain’s first gold bracelet of this 43rd annual staging of the series in the Amazon Room of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino after what was undoubtedly the most thrilling and enjoyable final table of the 2012 festival.

McCorkell’s victory in the $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Shootout did come as a major shock, though, as his WSOP record had not made good reading. He had notched two minimum cashes at this summer’s series for $13,666 in winnings from the eight previous events he had played, while last year saw the Brit go zero for 13 for a grand total of just $39,183 in lifetime WSOP earnings.

Champion ‘Confident’ When Heads-Up

However, the West Sussex player – who was one of the 10 players at the final table on Day 3 – reckoned it was vital that he play quite tight, quite solid to get to three-handed with a chance of victory.

Indeed, McCorkell also stressed that he is really confident in my heads-up game, so, when I got heads up, I felt really, really confident. Rightly so, as it turns out.

McCorkell’s triumph was a truly memorable occasion as, at one point during three-handed play, one-time gold bracelet winner Antonio ‘The Magician’ Esfandiari had approximately 75% of all the chips in play.

It seemed only a matter of time before the Iranian claimed his second bracelet, with McCorkell and eventual runner-up Jeremiah Fitzpatrick appearing to be jockeying for second and the extra $76,648 that went with avoiding a third place finish.

Antonio Esfandiari Crashes and Burns

However, three brutal hands decided the fate of Vegas-based Esfandiari as he went from overwhelming chip leader to third place finisher at the ESPN Main Stage at the Rio.

Firstly, Esfandiari doubled-up McCorkell before then losing a huge portion of his stack after calling Fitzpatrick’s all-in move with 7 7♠ when holding 9 9♣. Fitzpatrick, of North Carolina, flopped a seven on the K 7 4♠ J 5 board to leave Esfandiari with a little more than one million chips.

Esfandiari, with A J, then called McCorkell’s all-in shove. The Englishman held A♣ K and the board ran out 9 Q♠ 5 A♠ 9♠ to send Esfandiari tumbling further into the short stack.

No Luck for One-Time Chip Leader

A clearly stunned Esfandiari decided to move all-in on the very next hand with K 9 and McCorkell called to show K♣ 10♣. The 3 8 J♠ 6 A♠ board was no help to Esfandiari, who was incredibly sent to the rail in third place for $151,613.

McCorkell did concede that Esfandiari did run bad, especially he lost nines v sevens to have all the chips going into heads-up, although the champion did stress that he was still aware that anything could happen three-handed.

After all that excitement, Fitzpatrick started the heads-up battle with a 3,630,000 to 1,610,000-chip lead over McCorkell. However, the Brit fought back to level, before closing out the event only a few hands later.

Eights Demolish Jeremiah Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick had, however, shown a certain amount of resilience of his own before his revival came to a halt over two devastating hands. In the first, McCorkell three-bet before Fitzpatrick four-bet jammed. McCorkell called with 8♣ 8♠ while Fitzpatrick showed A♣ 8 but never connected with the 10♣ 6 K 9 10♠ flop.

Fitzpatrick was left with only 45,000 chips and, with the blinds at 30,000/60,000 and a 10,000 ante, he managed to double up once. However, that’s where his fightback ended as he the shoved all-in without seeing his cards on the next hand.

McCorkell made the call while holding 8 5 and Fitzpatrick tabled the 5 2♣ to see a board of 8 A♣ Q♣ K A♠ that ensured McCorkell had secured his first WSOP gold bracelet as his boisterous supporters went wild. Charlotte’s Fitzpatrick left with $228,261 as runner-up.

WSOP 2012 Event #36 Top 10 Payouts

  1. Craig McCorkell (UK) – $368,593
  2. Jeremiah Fitzpatrick (USA) – $228,261
  3. Antonio Esfandiari (Iran) – $151,613
  4. Jonathan Lane (USA) – $112,512
  5. Athanasios Polychronopoulos (USA) – $84,436
  6. Alessandro Longobardi (Italy) – $63,988
  7. Roberto Romanello (UK) – $48,924
  8. Thiago Nishijima (Brazil) – $37,707
  9. Joe Tehan (USA) – $29,277
  10. Sardor Gaziev (USA) – $22,899