Matt O’Donnell proved that tenacity might be poker’s most important virtue. He not only staged multiple comebacks during a grueling heads-up match that lasted several hours versus an equally-fiery opponent, he was also determined not to depart the final table in disappointing fashion as happened in a similar situation one year ago when he came in second place here at the annual summer classic in Las Vegas.
As a result of his tenacity, the poker pro from Tampa, Florida is now the latest gold bracelet winner at the 2015 World Series of Poker.
Indeed, after finishing as runner up in the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Championship at last year’s WSOP, O’Donnell returned again to poker’s premier stage, hoping to reach a career summit. He achieved that on a Friday evening in a tournament that ran so long that an unscheduled fourth playing day was added, which then ran an unexpectedly long seven hours. O’Donnell celebrated his victory after winning the final hand in which his opponent Timur Margolin, from Israel, lost a race holding a pair of sixes versus two overcards. The duel was a brutal test for both players that even became contentious, at times.
“It was definitely a heated atmosphere when we were heads up,” O’Donnell said afterward. “The rail was very aggressive, they were speaking in a foreign language, and we were going back and forth a lot. I was just glad to win.”
Indeed, the rail of supporters for both players made this a real battle. Players and spectators openly traded verbal barbs back and forth, and the pattern of play at the table mimicked what happening in the stands.
The $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament was the 47th of 68 prestigious gold bracelet events on the schedule. The competition attracted 1,244 entries, generating a $2,830,100 prize pool.
O’Donnell’s share for winning amounted to a whopping $551,941. With this victory, he now has 5 WSOP cashes and has accumulated nearly $900,000 in WSOP winnings alone.
Margolin made things mighty interesting during the heads-up match. He began play at a significant chip disadvantage, as Day Four seemed to belong entirely to ODonnell when players dropped from five down to two. However, the outcome became a wide open question when Margolin was all in on the first of many confrontations and made trip jacks on a big hand as O’Donnell missed a flush draw. The put the two rivals close in chips.
Then, the players traded the chip lead multiple times, as races and coin flips flip flopped the fates of both players by the hour. Finally at about 7 at night, Margolin’s pair of sixes couldn’t withstand O’Donnell’s queen-jack when the final board ran out A-A-Q-Q-x, giving O’Donnell a full house and the victory.
The final table included at least two notable players who are widely known in the poker world. Gold Bracelet winner Andre Akkari, the second ever to win a WSOP title from the nation for Brazil, came in 8th place. Akkari was hoping to carry over some of the Brazilian energy that has turned the 2015 WSOP a celebratory atmosphere. However, he busted out fairly early from the final table.
Andrew Black, a.k.a. “The Monk” lasted considerably longer before exiting in 4th place. The Dublin-based mystic was hoping for his long-awaited first WSOP victory, but will have to wait a bit longer. Black is perhaps best known for finishing 5th in the 2005 world championship won by Joe Hachem that same year.