American college student David Singontiko made an “incredible” debut at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) when picking up the gold bracelet for winning the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better event in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The 21-year-old amateur from California outlasted the rest of the 946-strong field to collect $268,235 from his very first WSOP event when seeing off Canadian Michael Yee ($165,346) in heads-up play at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.
Singontiko – who has a BA in business administration – decided to make event #51 his first WSOP entry because he’s “played a lot of Pot-Limit Omaha 8 online” and reckons that it is “just a fun game”.
It most certainly is if you’re winning, of course. However, Singontiko – from Chatsworth – was still stunned to record his incredible triumph, saying that he’s “just had an amazing time…I had good luck, good friends, and this is just incredible!”
Almost unbelievably, Singontiko only celebrated his 21st birthday in April – just two months before the WSOP started – and, prior to this success, his biggest previous poker tournament buy-in had only been for a $500 event.
But his inexperience did not show in Sin City as he celebrated his victory with friends and family after outlasting a tough final table to leave his father particularly pleased.
It seems Singontiko worked for his “dad and his friend at a mortgage company” for $10 an hour, but was still “able to get the week off to play this one tournament” – but only after working all summer.
However, that deal meant his father, who owns the business, “put up 100% of the buy-in” so they could “go 50-50 on it” – and that truly paid off big time as Singontiko worked his $1,500 stake up to $268,235 for his dad to earn $134,117.50.
But life won’t change “too much” for this youngster as he will “probably still work for my dad and his friend at the mortgage business”, although that tidy six-figure sum will surely provide lots of enjoyment for everyone associated with this poker prodigy.
The final table witnessed numerous chip swings, various intelligent plays, and more than a little good fortune for many of the last 10.
But it wasn’t a great day for Vegas-based David ‘Doc’ Sands, who not only saw his chip lead hammered by Texan Jeffrey Gibralter during the first orbit, but soon after crashed out in 10th place for $15,836 to miss out on the nine-man official final table that again had no previous WSOP bracelet winners present.
All the while, the table’s short stacks fought hard to stay in contention, but Sanantonio’s Cliff Kettinger (seventh for $33,396), Robert Campbell (eighth for $25,746), of Miami, and Omaha’s John Reiss (ninth for $20,063) were also soon heading for the rail.
Brazil’s Marco Oliveira – with Andre Akkari, his countryman and recent bracelet winner, providing support from the rail – was out in sixth for $43,830, and was soon followed by Illinois’ Thomas Scarber ($58,235) in fifth.
Singontiko, meanwhile, had been amassing a healthy chip stack and, having knocked out unfortunate Russian Igor Sharaskin ($78,413) in fourth, now held a large lead when three-handed play started.
Ottowa’s Yee was the short stack for a long while, but somehow held on as a massive pot developed between Gibralter and Singontiko that resulted in the former exiting in third for $107,148.
Just two hands of heads-up play saw Singontiko take the remainder of Yee’s short stack – and we had our champion.
Singontiko and Yee – with just 325,000 left – got it all-in pre-flop on the final hand, with the former holding Ad-8c-10d-5h and the latter showing Ks-3c-5s-Qc.
The board showed Js-7c-8s-6h, but the 10h on the river sent Singontiko’s rail wild as our winner collapsed to the floor in delight.
Singontiko certainly believes that his supporters helped him to his astounding success, saying that “they were definitely getting into the heads of the other players”.
In fact, he admitted that “even the dealer and the tournament director were getting a little peeved, but getting into the heads of the other players made it easier for me, so I owe them a lot”.
The leading 90 players made the money, with former bracelet winners such as Alexandre Gomes (87th for $2,873), Erik Seidel (58th for $4,188), Kathy Liebert (46th for $4,955), Brent Carter (26th for $8,377) and Barry Shulman (19th for $8,377) cashing.
Top 10 placings and payouts from the WSOP 2011 $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better event:
1. David Singontiko (USA) – $268,235
2. Michael Yee (Canada) – $165,346
3. Jeffrey Gibralter (USA) – $107,148
4. Igor Sharaskin (Russia) – $78,413
5. Thomas Scarber (USA) – $58,235
6. Marco Oliveira (Brazil) – $43,830
7. Cliff Kettinger (USA) – $33,396
8. Robert Campbell (USA) – $25,746
9. John Reiss (USA) – $20,063
10. David Sands (USA) – $15,836