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Steve Sung wins WSOP Stimulus Special
Before tonight, the phrase "Always the bridesmaid" might have been invented for Steve Sung.
The 24-year-old pro had amassed over $2 million in tournament earnings over the course of his short professional career.
But he'd never won a big buy-in tournament before Wednesday, when he defeated Panayote "Pete the Greek" Vilandos in heads-up play to claim the $1,000 "Stimulus Special" at the 40th annual WSOP.
"I feel amazing," Sung told PokerListings.com shortly after the win. "I feel like the monkey is off my back."
The Korea-born Californian outlasted a record field of 6,012 entrants to win the $771,106 first prize.
The final hand saw Sung's pocket kings hold up against Vilandos' pocket eights in a preflop all-in confrontation.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "I'm still in awe. I feel like an eight came on the river. I'm just speechless, to be honest."
Sung told PokerListings he wasn't even planning to play the "Donkulus" after busting out of the $40,000 NLHE event.
"I played the $40k and busted that," he said. "I played fairly bad and was pretty bummed out.
"The next day I played this tournament and I was like, 'you know I gotta play better. I gotta bounce back.'"
To prepare, the former In-N-Out Burger employee ate fruit. Lots of fruit.
"I try to eat any kind of fruit every break to keep me going and keep me awake," he said. "Usually I go to the gym, but not during this tournament so I guess maybe I'll never work out again.
"Maybe it's my lucky charm."
Sung came into the final table second in chips behind Dan Heimiller but quickly saw his fortunes falter as he shipped a huge pot in Vilandos' direction.
He would recover by eliminating Jeff Oakes in seventh place and then kicked it up a notch, taking over the chip lead and busting Heimiller (6th), Nathan Mullen (5th) and James Matz (3rd) to set up the brief heads-up match.
With the bracelet on the table, Sung began with double Vilandos' stack and would waste little time in picking up the rest.
"I felt really confident about my game," he said. "I felt like I had him where I wanted him."
Despite lasting barely half an hour heads-up, Vilandos told PokerListings he had no regrets.
"I feel I played good," he said. "There is a lot of luck involved in the whole thing.
"The last hand I had two eights and he had two kings. We are both very aggressive; he could have had ace-king."
"Pete the Greek" added another $473,283 to his $1 million plus in career earnings and loved every minute of it.
"I feel like I accomplished a lot," he said. "It was a tough tournament. A lot of tough competition. I enjoyed it very much!
"I'm ready for another one."
So is Sung.
Asked about his future plans, the champ replied, "I'm coming right back tomorrow."
Check out the PokerListings WSOP section for full final table coverage.
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