Jason Koon WSOP bracelet

Two accomplished players took home their first World Series of Poker bracelets on Thursday, while Phil Hellmuth will have to fight again as he comes up short for his 16th bracelet.

These stories and more as we take a look at what happened during Thursday’s action and look ahead to Friday.

Jason Koon wins $25,000 Heads-Up Championship for 1st WSOP bracelet

It’s almost shocking that Jason Koon has never won a WSOP bracelet given the level of success he has achieved in poker, but as any poker player will tell you, winning a WSOP bracelet isn’t easy. Fortunately, on Thursday night, Koon ended his WSOP bracelet drought with a victory in the $25,000 Heads Up No Limit Hold’em Championship to win a first-place prize of $243,981.

Although only 57 players entered the event, Koon still had to beat six players heads-up over three days in the bracket-style format to clinch the victory. Players making the final day included Gabor Szabo ($150,790), who Koon beat heads-up, Henri Puustinen ($89,787) and Daniel Zack ($89,787).

In post-match comments, Koon addressed his lack of bracelets but said that this won’t be the last. That’s good enough for 9th place all-time.

“It’s one of those things when you’re on an airplane and a person is like, ‘Do you have a bracelet?’ I’m just like, ‘Nope.’ At least I can finally say yes to that. I love coming here. I think I’ll play poker forever, and when it’s all said and done I think it’s inevitable I’ll have several of them.”

So what makes Koon’s lack of bracelets so surprising? He has amassed nearly $33 million in live tournament winnings in his career.

Ari Engel wins 1st WSOP bracelet, Hellmuth comes up short

Canada’s Ari Engel has secured his first WSOP bracelet after taking down the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship to win a $317,076 first-place prize. Engel outlasted 134 entries over the course of four days including a final table that included Zach Milchman ($195,968), Andrew Yeh ($143,988), Eddie Blumenthal ($107,204) and Phil Hellmuth ($80,894), who was seeking his 16th bracelet.

With over $7.4 million in lifetime winnings, Engel is no slouch in the world of poker. Engel has been playing — and cashing live tournaments — since 2006 and earned many six-figure scores. Although he had never won a bracelet prior to Thursday, he has many accomplishments including a win at the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event for $1.1 million.

Yuval Bronshtein wins 2nd WSOP bracelet

Meanwhile, Israel’s Yuval Bronshtein is the winner of his second career WSOP bracelet after taking down the $1,500 Limit Hold’em. Bronshtein’s victory came after outlasting 422 players over three days to also win a $124,374 first-place prize. His heads-up opponent, Kevin Erickson, put up a fight with a lengthy battle but ultimately finished second with $76,868.

“I was very lucky to win this after I was down to so few chips so many times, repeatedly, and my opponent was a tough player,” said Bronshtein.

Bronshtein, who has now accumulated nearly $1.8 in lifetime tournament winnings, previously won a WSOP bracelet in the 2019 $1,500 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw event for $96,278.

Ongoing action

Michael Gathy seeks 5th WSOP bracelet

Brandon Caputo began Day 3 of the $3,000 Freezeout No Limit Hold’em as the chip leader among a field of just 7 players. He will be joined by Michael Gathy, who is a close second and is trying to win his 5th WSOP bracelet. The winner of the event is also set to receive a $371,914 first place prize.

The action picked up at noon PT on Friday.

Shaun Deeb and David Williams make final table of $1,500 Stud

A couple of big names are at the final table of Event #14, the $1,500 7 Card Stud. When action resumes at 2 PM PT, Rafael Lebron will hold the chip lead followed by David Moskowitz, 4-time WSOP bracelet winner Shaun Deeb and WSOP bracelet winner David Williams. In addition to the bracelet, 1st place is set to receive $82,262.

96 battle it out in the $1,500 No LImit Hold’em 6-Handed

A grand total of 1,450 entries joined the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em 6-Handed on Thursday but just 96 remained at the end of the day. Daniel Orgil will begin the day with the chip lead along with notables such as Upkeshka De Silva, Jeff Gross, Kevin Martin, Matt Berkey and Tony Miles.

Play resumed at noon PT as the remaining players battle it out for an impressive $313,403 first-place prize along with the gold bracelet.

$10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship enters Day 2

Eric Kurtzman sits atop of the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship with 35 players remaining. He will be joined by notables such as Yuri Dzivielevski, Anthony Zinno, Jeremy Ausmus, Mike Matusow and Eric Seidel. Play will pick up at 2 PM PT.

Upcoming events

A popular favorite is among the new events on Friday’s schedule as the first flight of Event #17, the $1,500 Millionaire Maker No Limit Hold’em got underway at 10 AM PT. The tournament is so named due to the fact the winner will receive a guaranteed $1 million payday, regardless of how many enter the tournament.

This afternoon, the $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball begins at 3 PM PT.

Watch the WSOP

Tonight, PokerGo will stream the final table of the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Freezout beginning at 8 PM ET. Poker fans can watch the action with a monthly subscription of $14.99 or a yearly subscription of $99.

Sights and sounds from the 2021 WSOP

Daniel Negreanu reports in from the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship in his latest WSOP vlog.

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