Each and every poker player needs a little luck. Just ask Brandon Cantu, winner of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) $1,500 No-Limit Texas Hold'em event. Sure, poker is a game of skill. But luck can also carry a good player a very long way.
On Wednesday, Cantu, a 25-year-old semi-professional player from Las Vegas, began competing in his biggest poker tournament ever. With 64 players still contending in the tournament on the second day, Cantu found himself nearly all-in with most of his chips in the pot and drawing slim against none other than Greg Raymer, known as the "Fossilman" and the 2004 World Champion.
Raymer had the best hand by far, but luck sometimes appears when least expected. The angels of mercy resuscitated Cantu with two near-miracle diamonds to complete a flush, which eliminated the poker superstar and stunned those who witnessed the decisive moment.
That pot ignited a flame in Cantu that would never extinguish. He burned through a record-field of 2,776 players - an astonishing number in size and scale considering it was the second-largest poker tournament in history - to eventually take home the title of champion.
Cantu took on Lee Padilla, Phong "Mark" Ly, Mark Swartz, Brent Roberts, Carlos Mortensen, Ronald Stanley, Drew Rubin and Don Zewin at the final table. It came down to heads-up play between Cantu, who had a three to two chip lead, and Ly.
The final outcome didn't take long. Ly lost most of his chips when he overplayed his hand holding J-4, after the turn showed A-J-6-7. Ly re-raised all-in holding second pair. Big mistake. Cantu called instantly with A-K - good for top pair, top kicker. The river failed to rescue Ly, who went out just two hands later.
"I have no skills in life other than poker," Cantu joked afterward when asked why he decided to turn pro. "That's it for me, maybe I'll retire."
But Cantu also admitted to having at least one goal, which he has not yet achieved. "I still have not won our home poker game tournament," he said. "It has a $20 buy-in. They all keep making fun of me that I never win. When I win that one, my life will be complete."
Those interested can read more about Cantu in his interview with PokerListings.com.
The final table results were as follows:
|2nd||Phong "Mark" Ly||$416,816|
|9th||Juan Carlos Mortensen||$71,617|
For more information, visit PokerListings.com's WSOP section.