Mark Rodoja has claimed the crown in the World Series of Poker’s twenty-fourth event of 2011, taking home $436,568 for his efforts.
The event itself featured a $5,000 buy-in, running a three-round shootout of No Limit Texas Hold’em. 387 players ponied up the necessary cash, bringing the field’s total prize pool to $1,818,900. Among those finishing in the money were noted pros Erik Seidel, Gavin Smith, and James Akenhead, each of whom pocketed $13,368.
In the end, Radoja, a 25 year-old grinder from Ontario, walked away with his first bracelet and ninth WSOP cash over the past five years. Specifically, he hails from the small town of Guelph, which has produced several prominent poker names.
“You will not find a tougher $5,000 or lower buy-in field for the World Series,” said the Canadian-born champ, “or anywhere else in the world than this one. This was the best field ever assembled for a tournament like this. You can ask anyone in it… I was fortunate, because two of the best players went out early. You have to catch cards at the right time. Looking back, I have no regrets about decisions I made. But you have to get lucky too, along the way. I played my best, got lucky at times, and here I am.”
The event will be remembered for its wild chip swings, which nearly cost Radoja his berth at the final table. Things got particularly dicey during his second round heads-up match, when he squared off against Yasuhiro Waki. Asked to describe the encounter the eventual winner described it as “definitely the most epic heads-up ever.
“I would say no one has ever had a heads-up match like that before,” the winner told ESPN. “I had him 550,000 to 50,000. Then, he had me 550,000 to my 50,000. I came back and won. At one point, he had flopped trips on an 8-8-6 board. He had A-8 and I had A-6. I ended up making the runner-runner flush, or I wouldn’t even be here. There were so many incredible, mind-boggling things that happened when we were heads-up.”
Among the biggest personalities at the final table were runner up Jeffery Gross (who logged his highest in-the-money finish to date), and ninth place finisher Sean Getzwiller, who just days before had captured a bracelet in Event 8, a $1,000 NLHE affair.
Here’s how the final table broke down, complete with payouts:
#1 – Mark Radoja ($436,568)
#2 – Jeffrey Gross ($269,742)
#3 – Nicolas Fierrogottner ($198,096)
#4 – Scott Baumstein ($146,639)
#5 – Adam Junglen ($109,406)
#6 – Nikita Lebedev ($82,287)
#7 – Todd Terry ($62,370)
#8 – Tom Marchese ($47,636)
#9 – Sean Getzwiller ($36,669)