Texas lawyer Neil Willerson has won $737,248 for taking down the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event #53 at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas.
The 36-year-old from San Antonio – who was the Texas State men’s singles tennis champ back in 1994 – returned for an unscheduled fourth day to complete his heads-up clash against Russian Vladimir Mefodichev after tournament officials enforced the hard stop rule following 10 levels of play on Day 3.
Willerson started Day 4 on 8,920,000 chips while Moscow’s Mefodichev held 5,335,000 in the Amazon Room of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and it was the former who collected the gold bracelet from the biggest open field – 3,166 starters – after about an hour and 45 minutes of play.
Champion’s First Gold Bracelet
It was during level 33 – with the blinds at 100,000/200,000 and a 30,000 ante – that Willerson finally secured his first piece of WSOP jewellery after he and Mefodichev traded chips for nearly two levels.
Short stack Mefodichev managed to double-up once after his J♣ 9♦ out-flopped the A♥ 9♥ of Willerson when it came down J♠ 2♣ 2♥. This gave the Russian four million chips while Willerson was cut back down to 10.2 million. However, apart from picking up a few small pots, Mefodichev soon found himself all-in again – and this time he would not be so fortunate.
On the button, Willerson completed and Mefodichev checked to see a 4♥ 3♠ 8♠ flop. Mefodichev checked again, Willerson bet 300,000 and the European then raised it to 800,000.
Pair of Sixes Good Enough For Win
Willerson responded by shoving all-in with J♠ 6♠ and Mefodichev called for his event life while holding K♠ 5♠. The latter was ahead as both players obviously looked to complete a flush draw, although that would be no good to Willerson now as Mefodichev had the king-high.
However, the 6♣ arrived on the turn to give Willerson a pair and the lead, leaving Mefodichev needing a spade or king on the river to secure a double-up. Unfortunately, for the Russian, the 10♥ came down, ensuring that Willerson was champion.
Mefodichev had been aiming to become the first Russian to win a bracelet at this year’s WSOP, but had to settle for a runners-up spot and $456,217.
WSOP 2012 Event #53 Top 10 Payouts
- Neil Willerson (USA) – $737,248
- Vladimir Mefodichev (Russia) – $456,217
- Hugh Henderson (USA) – $322,866
- Zachary Humphrey (USA) – $233,708
- Matthew Graham (USA) – $171,135
- Hai Chu (Australia) – $126,770
- Bryan Piccioli (USA) – $94,971
- Randy Ashe (Canada) – $71,933
- Ryan Hughes (USA) – $55,093
- Sylvain Gonon (France) – $42,656