Leo Margets
Leo Margets won her first-ever WSOP bracelet as she closed out The Closer in dramatic fashion.

A fantastic day of action in the World Series of Poker saw three bracelets won by first-time winners as well as the first day of action in the $100,000 NLHE High Roller. Leo Margets was the first female player to win an open bracelet in the 2021 World Series of Poker as she closed out The Closer, winning $376,000 and claiming a maiden bracelet.

Margets Makes History in The Closer

With just 63 players remaining in the hunt for the bracelet, Margets began the day in the chasing pack as Alex Kulev of Bosnia led the field. That lead would be maintained for much of the final day of the event, but with a little luck and a lot of skill, Margets made good on her attempt to become the first female open event winner late in the 2021 World Series.

The final table was reached in record time as just nine players remained, with Kulev still king in waiting. At that point, Margets had managed to get third on the leaderboard, but Kulev’s lead was such that she had just over half of his stack. Canadian player Ben Underwood busted in ninth place for $35,131 when his short stack shove with Qh6s couldn’t get there against Aleksandr Shevliakov’s QdJd as the board ran out with queens on flop and river but low cards elsewhere.

There was quickly another elimination as Chris Moorman, online poker legend and short stack heading into the final, busted with ace-high against Margets. Moorman’s Ah5h started the hand behind against Margets’ Ad9c and the board of Kc4d7sAsTc saw Margets’ kicker play to send Moorman out with a cash worth $44,740.

In seventh, Shevliakov was the victim as the post-dinner session that would find a winner began with his elimination for $57,525. Shevliakov called off Kulev’s shove and was in horrible shape, holding AcQh against Kulev’s AdKs. The seven-high board sent the Russian home at the Bosnian’s expense as the chip leader took yet more control.

In sixth place, Cherish Andrews earned $74,680 when her Ad3h couldn’t catch Stephen Song’s QsQh as the board, which initially looked great for Andrews on the flop of Ac5c3s, was fine on the 3c turn but took a turn for the worse on the Qc river.

With five players left, it looked like everyone was playing for second behind Kulev as he continued to dominate, busting two more players in a single hand as his AcQc held against Arturo Segura’s QhTh, condemning him to a fifth-place finish worth $97,865 and Marc Lange, whose AdKc was overtaken on the board of Jh8h2c6sQd board. Another queen on the river and another player out, Lange earning $129,460, the first six-figure score of the event, for crashing out in fourth.

Three-handed, Kulev’s stack of 38 million dwarfed both Song (6 million) and Margets (4 million), but no limit hold’em being what it is, no-one’s lead is ever safe for more than a couple of all-in hands. Margets had chipped up a little to 7 million by the time Song departed in third for $172,855, but Kulev, whose pocket nines beat Song’s Kc8h shove, was up to 40 million and looking like it was a matter of time before he booked a first WSOP win.

Heads-up began with the stroke of luck Margets needed. Miscounting her stack to 2.5 big blinds rather than 7.5, she shoved with 9c4d and when Kulev called with the dominating As9s, she looked doomed. But the board had other ideas, coming Js7s7h4c8c to double her up in fortuitous fashion and give her 15 bigs to play with.

Suddenly, Margets had all the momentum, and 3:1 down in chips, she doubled again when her shove with Ad4c held in spectacular style when Kulev’s Kh8h was shot down by quad fours after the board played out. Grinding to level up the chips, Margets had a slim lead by the time the pair saw a flop of 9s5h3s and all the chips went into the middle. Kulev held Ah9d for top pair, top kicker, but Margets had the flush draw and bottom pair with Qs5s.

The turn of 5c gave her trips and holding through the Th river, her miraculous comeback was complete as Spanish pro Margets won her first-ever WSOP bracelet in the most dramatic of circumstances.

WSOP 2021 Event #83 $1,500 The Closer Final Table Results:

  1. Leo Margets – $376,850
  2. Alex Kulev – $232,920
  3. Stephen Song – $172,855
  4. Marc Lange – $129,460
  5. Arturo Segura – $97,865
  6. Cherish Andrews – $74,680
  7. Aleksandr Shevliakov – $57,525
  8. Chris Moorman – $44,740
  9. Benjamin Underwood – $35,131

Badziakouski Wins Brilliant First Bracelet in High Roller

In Event #85, the $50,000-entry High Roller, it was Belarussian poker crusher Mikita Badziakouski who reigned supreme and took the title and his first WSOP bracelet. Badziakouski had a huge task on his hands to do so, with one of the toughest final tables in this or any World Series to negotiate. However, from being one of the shortest stacks when the final table began, the Belarussian modern poker legend added another reminder to others of his poker prowess with an impressive performance.

Ryan Leng was the first player to leave the nine-handed final table and it came as no surprise purely due to the 2021 WSOP powerhouse entering play with seven big blinds. Most of them went into the middle before the flop, with a little going in on the flop with 5h5d, but Ren Lin had KcKh and the cowboys shot down Leng’s hopes on a board of AhJhTdAcKs. Leng cashed for $131,982.

In eighth place, it was the turn of Joao Vieira to depart, earning $167,152 for his run to the final table. All-in pre-flop for just a couple of blinds, Vieira had Ah4h, but he was called by both Carlos Villamarin with Jc5s and Jason Koon with Ad9c. The board of 5d4d2cQc2s saw a little more money go in, but it eventually went to showdown and Villamarin’s pocket fives – of course – won the day.

Shortly after that hand, Villamarin himself was on the rail. All-in pre-flop with AhJh, he was in horrible shape against the AsAc belonging to Stephen Chidwick and the Brit held with ease across the 9h8s9d3s9s board to leap up the leaderboard and leave Villamarin on the rail with $214,496.

With six players left, Chidwick held the lead, but not for long. Badziakouski took over and grabbed the chip lead. It was one he would not relinquish easily, as Ali Imsirovic busted in sixth place for $278,840 when Ren Lin’s 8s7c got there against Imsirovic’s AdQd on a board of Jd7s5d2cTc, with Lin’s middle pair on the flop surviving two streets of outs including two overs and any diamond.

At this stage, Mike Matusow was singing the praises of Daniel Negreanu’s late registration…well, kind of.

Stephen Chidwick had been left super-short by the chip leader and departed in fifth place for $367,153. Chidwick’s 5d2h couldn’t catch against Koon’s Qs5c with all the chips in pre-flop and a board of KsKdJh4h6d playing out.

Koon was the next to bust, crashing out in fourth place for $489,585 when his AdKc couldn’t find any help against Badziakouski’s QhQs. The eight-high board sent the GGPoker ambassador out before the podium places and while the Belarussian Badziakouski led, hopes were high for both Negreanu and Lin to make a comeback. Those hopes were to be ruthlessly dashed by the champion in waiting.

Negreanu was eliminated by Badziakouski next as the Belarussian went about taking down his final three opponents in a brutal display of poker dominance. The Canadian shoved with Jh5h and Badziakouski called with As6h, the board of QdJd8d3sAd delivering Kid Poker from the competition for another great score of $661,041, but missing out on the bracelet once again.

Heads-up could have been a non-event, Lin trailing Badziakouski as he did by almost four-to-one in chips. Despite that opening deficit, however, Lin chipped up to take the lead, and for a while, it looked like Badziakouski might struggle. But the partypoker pro is made of strong stuff and he railed to lead once again before the final hand.

Li, short-stacked, shoved for just under seven big blinds with Kd7s and Badziakouski called it off with As5h. The board of 8h9d2h8s9c saw the Belarussian emerge from one of the toughest final tables of the Autumn the winner and the proud owner of his first-ever WSOP bracelet, along with the $1.46 million top prize. Li, defeated, had to settle for the runner-up prize of $903,610.

WSOP 2021 Event #85 $50,000 NLHE High Roller Final Table Results:

  1. Mikita Badziakouski – $1,462,043
  2. Ren Lin – $903,610
  3. Daniel Negreanu – $661,041
  4. Jason Koon – $489,585
  5. Stephen Chidwick – $367,153
  6. Ali Imsirovic – $278,840
  7. Carlos Villamarin – $214,496
  8. Joao Vieira – $167,152
  9. Ryan Leng – $131,982
Mikita Badziakouski
Mikita Badziakouski won his first WSOP bracelet too, claiming a terrific victory in the $50,000 NLHE High Roller

The final event of the night to conclude produced a winner inside 14 hours of play as Michael McCauley won his maiden bracelet in the $1,000-entry Event #86, the Super Turbo event.

In an event where the great and good took to the felt, some stars busted out early, such as Phil Hellmuth, Shau Deeb and Barny Boatman, whose tale of disaster started with such positivity…

…but ended in a cold as ice defeat.

Others were running hot and chief amongst them was the leader of the WSOP Player of the Year race, Josh Arieh. Having seen the Poker Brat bust earlier, Arieh dug in his spikes and stuck around all the way to 10th place, earning $10,604, but most importantly, more points to go next to his name on the POY leaderboard. Others to cash but miss out on the final table included Ryan Riess (152nd for $1,606), Landon Tice (130th for $1,606), and Michael Lech (124th for $1,757).

Down to the final table, Dara O’Kearney was the first player to bust when his queen-jack couldn’t catch Andrew Wilson’s ace-four. After Marc Lomeo lost a coinflip with pocket fives against Luigi Curcio’s ace-king, Curcio himself busted when he and Filippo Ragone bothlost out to McCauley in a double elimination.

With just five players left, only the Israel player Yuval Bronshtein had won a WSOP bracelet before, but he crashed out in fourth after Rajvir Dua had departed in fifth. Indian player Neel Joshi had led for a long time in the run-up to the final table but could last no longer and left in third place when his start-stack shove with king-deuce ran into McCauley’s pocket sixes.

Wilson was only a little shorter than the chip leader, but he was on the rail when his shove for 15 big blinds with 7d6d saw a call from McCauley with KdJh and the board of QcTs4c2s8d gave the American player his first-ever WSOP bracelet.

WSOP 2021 Event #86 $1,000 Super Turbo Final Table Results:

  1. Michael McCauley – $161,384
  2. Andrew Wilson – $99,742
  3. Neel Joshi – $72,031
  4. Yuval Bronshtein – $52,679
  5. Rajvir Dua – $39,022
  6. Filippo Ragone – $29,282
  7. Luigi Curcio – $22,263
  8. Marc Lomeo – $17,153
  9. Dara O’Kearney – $13,395

Holz Leads The $100K

On Day 1 of the $100,000-entry High Roller, Fedor Holz showed once again why he is still one of the most dangerous high stakes players in the world as he topped the 28 players who survived from 53 entries.

Holz’ stack of 3,415,000 was marginally ahead of David Peters’ 3,305,000 as a top-quality field produced some big stacks belonging to superstars with plenty of bracelets between them. Oddly, however, while there are 8 bracelets between the top 10 players, only three players of that number have won one, with Michael Addamo (3) coming into Day 2 sixth in chips with over 1.8 million, behind Holz (2) and Peters (also 3).

With big names such as Sam Grafton (2,120,000), Sorel Mizzi (1,380,000), Sam Soverel (1,070,000), Dan Smith (665,000), and Ben Heath (610,000) all in the Top 20, the potential late registration of both Phil Hellmuth and Josh Arieh could yet decide the destiny of the WSOP Player of the Year title.

Players such as Darren Elias, Stephen Chidwick, and Jason Koon all busted on Day 1 but will have the chance to rebuy before the first card hits the felt on Day 2.

WSOP 2021 Event #87 $100,000 NLHE High Roller Top 10 Chipcounts:

  1. Fedor Holz – 3,415,000
  2. David Peters – 3,305,000
  3. Orpen Kisacikoglu – 3,040,000
  4. Sam Grafton – 2,120,000
  5. Bill Klein – 1,885,000
  6. Jonathan Little – 1,625,000
  7. Seth Davies – 1,260,000
  8. Laszlo Bujtas – 1,240,000
  9. John Lilic – 1,190,000
  10. Michael Addamo – 885,000

Finally, we stay with Koon as the GGPoker ambassador and first-time WSOP bracelet winner this series paid tribute to a great player given little credit apart from in the past few days. Sincerity rocks, people.