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sabato 17 giugno 2023

Mark Ioli picks up his first-ever bracelet at the WSOP 2023

credits: WSOP

Mark Ioli (photo by WSOP)Two days of play saw a total of 1,241 players sit down in Event #32: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Max. The prize pool swelled to $3,313,470, and the lion's share to play for was left to the 58 players who made the second day of this tournament.

In the end, it was Mark Ioli who was crowned champion, winning his first WSOP bracelet and a career-best score of $558,266. "It was a long two days, but it was worth it," the newly crowned champion said, beaming. "The two previous times I got heads up for a bracelet, I was a card away from winning," he said, referring to his two second places in WSOP online events. "So, it feels good to finally win. It's the one accolade in poker you want no matter what."

When talking about the competition in this tournament, he said, "the first eight hours of play, there wasn't a single recreational player at my table, it was all pros. I played pretty patiently throughout and obviously ran good in a few spots to win."

The former Magic player turned to poker in his college years and moved to Canada to play after Black Friday.

"Nowadays I play live cash, some tournaments, and some other business ventures,” said Ioli.

When asked whether he would play the rest of the series, he said, "For sure. Initially, the plan was to play cash mostly and then a few tournaments, but I got a cash the other day, and I really want to get back in there. It's crazy how quickly plans change."

Day 2 action began in a fast and furious way. Many notable players went out the door early including Alex Foxen (48th - $9,621), who busted memorably when start of day chip leader Chris Hunichen called him with six-three suited, John Dolan (33rd - $15,857), Martin Jacobson (28th - $19,382) Benjamin Diebold (19th - $24,087), Maria Ho (17th - $30,429), Asher Conniff (16th - $30,429), and Noah Schwartz (9th - $50,948).

The unofficial seven-handed final table was reached when the start of day chip leader Chris Hunichen got in his short stack in the middle with ace-nine against Johann Ibanez's pocket eights. An ace-high flop came out that also contained an eight, and no improvement on the turn meant that Hunichen would exit the tournament in eighth place for $50,948.

The very first hand of the unofficial final table saw the first elimination. Todd Ivens moved in his short stack to the middle with ace-ten, which saw Julien Sitbon from one seat over move in with pocket nines and everyone else folded. The flop came out ace-high, but the river nine gave the Frenchman a set of nines, and he took down the pot while Ivens exited the tournament in seventh place for $67,492, bringing the table to the official final table.

Samy Boujmala was the first casualty of the official final table after a swingy day. He rose to the chip leader with two tables left, but several clashes with his countryman Sitbon had left him as a shorter stack. He raised most of his stack in the hijack with ace-seven suited, and Eshaan Bhalla moved all in for more with pocket kings, and Boujmala called. The board ran out as no favor to the ace-seven, and Boujmala exited the tournament in sixth place for $90,791.

Sitbon would be out the door soon after. He lost a race to Ioli to fall to the short stack but was able to double up once after that. His run of fortune was short-lived as he moved in his final chips in with pocket threes only to see Ibanez wake up with pocket aces in the big blind. The aces held to eliminate Sitbon in fifth place for $123,992.

Bhalla got tangled in a pot in the small blind with ten-eight against Ibanez in the big blind who held queen-ten. On a ten-high board, Bhalla check-jammed the turn which Ibanez called, and he held on the river to take an overwhelming chip lead and leave Bhalla to exit the tournament in fourth place for $171,874.

In third place came Wing Liu shortly after Bhalla's bust out. Liu was never able to gain much traction at the final table, and that saw him dwindle down to just a few big blinds. In the end, he moved in after defending the big blind on a four-four-deuce flop with king-five, only for Ibanez to call him with aces. The aces held up, and Liu collected $241,767 for his deep run.

What followed was a heads-up battle for the ages. Over 2.5 hours of grueling tournament-defining pots that saw the lead shift multiple times between Ioli and Ibanez. In the end, Ioli doubled in a crucial hand where his ace-king won a race against the pocket eights of Ibanez, which gave him a five-to-one lead. A few hands later, the remaining chips would get in when Ibanez held ace-ten against Ioli's king-jack. The turn brought Ioli a full house and secured him the bracelet while Ibanez finished his deep run in second place for $345,034.


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