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Mizzi 2nd, Bax 3rd in WSOP $5k PLO
The $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament concluded in a way few observers could have predicted.
Decorated poker pros Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy and Sorel Mizzi each entered three-handed play with the bracelet seemingly within reach.
In the end, neither could overcome relative unknown Richard Austin's spectacular photo finish.
The final table's climactic hand was so dramatic that even the tournament director wasn't sure who had won at first.
The hand saw Mizzi and Josephy both all-in for their tournament lives on a K♣ 9♦ 3♣ flop, Mizzi with A♥ A♣ 5♦ 3♦ and Josephy with A♦ K♥ K♠ 8♦.
Josephy's top set gave him the lead, but Austin was very much alive with his Q♥ J♠ 8♣ 5♣, needing to catch a ten or a club to win the pot and the tournament outright.
The turn card was the harmless 8♠, but the 7♣ on the river completed the Kentucky native's flush and gave him the best hand.
At first, the tournament director tried to split the pot between Josephy and Mizzi. He then realized Austin had the best hand, announced he was entitled to the entire pot and, in anti-climactic fashion, a champion was born.
Josephy came into the day with the chip lead but came up short with his third-place finish. The renowned online presence felt he might have played Austin's hand a little differently.
"It might be a good cash game move and might even be a good tournament move, but that's just not my style," he said.
Josephy has been here before and has already taken home a bracelet. He was disappointed but realistic about the result.
"It's ok. I have one [bracelet] already. It's not like I'm a choker, it just wasn't in the cards," he said.
Josephy told PokerListings he was satisfied with his play.
"I played pretty solid. I don't think I made any glaring errors. I guess I just got coolered and whatever a few times," he said. "I don't know if I could have done anything differently to win the tournament. It just wasn't in the cards."
Mizzi's result was a little harder for him to swallow.
The young Canadian has come close to a bracelet once before, finishing second in the £5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event at the World Series of Poker Europe event last September.
"It hurts, it really hurts. When you get that close and when you get it in the way I did - that's just poker," he said.
"I'm sure it will come eventually - the bracelet. That's what I was going for, but you can't always win and you have to roll with the punches."
The field for this tournament was rich with many of the best Pot Limit Omaha players in the world. Mizzi knew from the start it wasn't going to be easy.
"It was a pretty tough final table. When you think of it, there were a lot of great players in the field. It probably wasn't as hard as it could have been, but it was tough."
Austin, a Louisville, KY native, could never be accused of being a man of many words. His thoughts on his first WSOP bracelet win were concise and to the point.
"Feels good," he said. "It was good. I ran good when I needed to."
The young pro elected to skip tomorrow's bracelet ceremony, opting to sleep in instead.
"I think it's just a pain in the ass to make everyone stand up for the national anthem every time," he said.
Austin's absence means Saturday will be the first day since Day 1 of the WSOP that a bracelet ceremony will not be held. For the win, Austin earned $409,484. Mizzi took $253,048 for second and Josephy walks with $166,771.
Check out the PokerListings 2009 WSOP section for more live coverage from Las Vegas.