American Nick Binger made a momentous – and ultimately correct – decision on Tuesday to play in the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better event of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas.
Poker can be a very cruel game, as Binger has found out during this WSOP at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. Having failed to find any form – and, indeed, luck – during numerous events, the Vegas-based pro finally secured his first gold bracelet, as well as $397,073, in event #57, although he was close to giving up on this summer’s series.
With only two cash finishes – at 32nd and 232nd for a $10,473 total – at the Rio from dozens of entries, Binger then “busted out” of event #56, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament, without making the money to leave him with a tough decision.
Should he accept that his six-figure investment at the series had pretty well been in vain and go home? Or should he give it one last shot and enter the last tournament ahead of the main event in Sin City?
Thankfully, Binger showed perfect timing to run “down the hall to register for this tournament and got in with just seconds to spare” following his “bad summer going into the end here”.
Just four days later, Binger found himself as the last man standing from 352 starters – that created a $1,654,400 prize pool – after he defeated Georgia pro David Bach in their heads-up battle last night.
Bach – who won the 2009 $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship – is no easy mark, either, having made seven final-table appearances over the past five years, so for Binger to battle back from a 3 to 1 chip disadvantage tells the story of how well he played, with Lady Luck also smiling down on him…finally.
However, Binger – who now has 17 cash finishes at the WSOP – also had to survive three other days to make this match-up, outlasting players such as Kirill Rabtsov, David ‘Doc’ Sands, Grayson Nichols, Lee Watkinson and Padraig Parkinson during an intense 12-hour day three when the field had been reduced to just 25 starting players.
With 23 players eliminated, we were left with Binger and Bach, who then had to return for a fourth day before the former emerged victorious to leave the latter with a rather handy $245,314 as runner-up.
It somehow seemed inevitable that Binger would some day win a WSOP bracelet, though, as his family are mad keen poker players. In fact, his 34-year-old brother, Michael, has accumulated $5,112,883 from 23 WSOP cash finishes.
But he still hasn’t won a gold bracelet, with his best finish coming at the 2006 main event, when he secured third spot for $4,123,310 – just a few months after he had earned a Ph.D. in Theoretical Particle Physics from Stanford University!
There is certainly some friendly family rivalry going on, too, with Nick immediately shouting “me” when asked who is the better player between the brothers. However, it also obvious that these two pros are close as Michael celebrated Nick’s victory as if it were his own.
Binger’s victory is certainly a lesson in persistence – and should give hope to all players suffering a bad streak. Maybe Phil Hellmuth, with three runner-up spots this summer, could learn a few things from Binger’s experience as he aims to collect a record-breaking 12th gold bracelet in Sin City during the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship main event, which started on Thursday evening.
Top 10 placings and payouts from the WSOP 2011 $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better event:
1. Nick Binger (USA) – $397,073
2. David Bach (USA) – $245,314
3. Bryce Yockey (USA) – $180,180
4. Phil Laak (USA) – $133,377
5. Trevor Reader (USA) – $99,512
6. Peter Charalambous (UK) – $74,845
7. Nick Schulman (USA) – $56,729
8. Bjorn Verbakel (UK) – $43,328
9. Allen Kessler (USA) – $33,352
10. Brent Wheeler (USA) – $25,874