Bloch wins elusive first WSOP bracelet, $126,363
5 Jun 2012
No doubt, Bloch's most painful moment took place six years ago, in one of the most epic confrontations in poker history. Bloch faced legendary poker icon David "Chip" Reese heads-up in the inaugural $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tourmnament (now dubbed the Poker Player's Championship), which was nationally televised on ESPN.
Bloch had the great Reese all-in and drawing slim a few times. But Reese managed to survive and eventually won what turned out to become the longest heads-up match in WSOP history -- clocking in at a mind-numbing seven hours.
But tonight, Bloch erased all that. He woke up from a nightmare. Literally on the exact same spot at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino where Reese had slain Bloch in 2006, leaving him bracelet-less once again, this time the roles were reversed and Bloch got to feel what it was like to drag the final pot of a WSOP tournament.
The tournament included a stellar final table lineup of rivals that made the victory all the more poignant. Bloch's comeback finale included former two gold bracelet winners playing the roles of extras in his triumphant biopic -- David Williams and Barry Greenstein -- their golden amulets of previous accomplishment, no doubt, annoyingly ringing in Bloch’s ears each time a new hand was dealt and chips were bet.
"You’d rather have completely unknowns that play badly," said Bloch. "But when you do win, people can’t say, ‘Oh, you know, he got lucky because he was against such bad players.’"
But in the end, in front of a small circle of intimate friends and well-wishers, Bloch was the victor and vanquisher of all the demons of WSOPs past – finally righting the recurrent wrong that had plagued his otherwise astral tournament career like a mustard stain on a tuxedo.
"Now, no one can say, 'Andy Bloch is the best player to never win a gold bracelet,'" Bloch said moments after the victory. "That is really annoying because there are so many great other players too, who have not won. I've been coming here for 18 years now. I never thought it would have taken so long."
The radiant new poker champion collected $126,363 in prize money. However, this victory wasn't so much about dollars as it was about shedding a monkey and slaying a ghost.
Greenstein, a three-time gold bracelet winner from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., claimed $78,038 for second place, while Stephen Su of Houston was third. Williams was fourth, Huu Vinh was fifth, Lee Goldman was sixth, Caroline Hermesh was seventh, and Scott Abrams was eighth.
The top 72 finishers collected prize money. Other former gold bracelet winners to finish in the money included: Fabrice Soulier (10th), Steve Billirakis (11th), Chau Giang (14th), Vitaly Lunkin (26th), Justin Smith (30th), David Singer (32nd), Artie Cobb (35th) and Viacheslav Zhukov (40th).
Giang's cash was the 61st of his career, which currently ranks in sixth place all-time. Cobb cashed for the 22nd time in a WSOP Stud-formatted event, which ranks as the most of all-time.
Modified from tournament notes provided by WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla.