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