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Grown Up Billirakis Provides with Second WSOP Bracelet Win
When Steve Billirakis won his first WSOP gold bracelet in 2007 he was just 11 days into the 21st year of his life and the youngest WSOP bracelet winner ever at the time.
Now, four years later, he's got two kids, a fiancé and a second WSOP bracelet on his wrist.
Billirakis defeated a field of 180 players to win the €5k Pot-Limit Omaha event at the 2011 World Series of Poker Europe, earning €238,140. That’s roughly $318k USD at today’s exchange rate.
The young pro had to contend with the toughest final table of the series so far, one that included skilled Omaha players like Ramzi Jelassi, Sam Trickett and Erich Kollman.
Billirakis defeated Italy’s Michele Di Lauro heads-up to earn his second WSOP title.
“It means a lot, it means a lot to win,” Billirakis told PokerListings.com moments after the win in Cannes.
“I’ve been doing badly lately and I’m just happy that I can win this money for my family and my two kids,” he said frankly.
Billirakis refers to doing badly as of late but a quick look at his tournament record suggests otherwise.
He collected just over $536,000 for winning his first bracelet. Since then he’s amassed over $1.6 million in tournament earnings, including last night’s victory.
That run includes a win on the WSOP Circuit, two third-place finishes in $10k WSOP championships and a long list of six-figure scores.
“When I won my first bracelet I was young and stupid. I thought I couldn’t get any better but now I realize I had a lot to learn,” he said.
“Bracelets are hard to win and tournaments are hard to win and even though I haven’t had the results I had in 2007 I feel like I’m a much better player.
"I’ve learned a lot from playing with all the best players in the world and now I feel like I’m as good as them.”
Taking his more than $300k in winnings, Billirakis went directly from the final table he had just crushed and sat down in the €10k No-Limit Hold’em Split Format event that had started close to six hours before.
No celebration, no fanfare, just a dedicated professional getting back to work. But despite having a family to provide for, there is more on the line for Billirakis than the cash.
“I’m in the business to collect bracelets but yeah the money means a lot too,” he said.
“I would probably take about $50,000 less if it meant the difference between getting the bracelet and not getting it,” he added.
The man they call MrSmokey1 online is a well-rounded player, with big results in Hold’em, Stud, Mixed Games and of course Omaha.
His most recent six-figure score before this win was a third-place finish in the $10k Omaha Hi-Lo event at the 2011 WSOP, good for $214,697.
“With four cards there’s a lot of possibilities, and it’s not really a willingness to gamble that’s important it’s just smart to gamble,” Billirakis says of the game.
“In Omaha there’s lots of variance, you can have top set and be an underdog a lot of the time.”
Billirakis has honed his ability to make calculated gambles, and it’s this skill that’s allowed him to provide for his family and continue to succeed in the highest levels of tournament poker.
“I’m just a poker player, I don’t have the résumé for anything else, so I hope I can win a bunch of money this year so I can take some time off and spend it with my family,” he said.
For more information on Billirakis' victory, click through here to read PokerListings.com's live coverage of the 2011 WSOPE €5k PLO event