The unthinkable happened on Saturday when 21-year-old Jeff Madsen won his second gold bracelet within a week.
Even more remarkable is the fact that Madsen turned 21 just six weeks ago. This was Madsen's third final table at this year's World Series of Poker (WSOP).
He's one of only two players to hold such a distinction. Madsen now has two first- and one third-place finish on his WSOP resume.
No player has ever skyrocketed to the top of the poker world so quickly, or so effortlessly. Not Stu Ungar. Not Johnny Chan. Not Phil Hellmuth. At 21, Ungar was still hustling gin games in New York. Chan was washing dishes in his parent's restaurant. Hellmuth was a University of Wisconsin student, playing in $20 buy-in Hold'em games.
Jeff Madsen Not Finished Yet
Contrast those memoirs with Madsen, who already has two gold bracelets and $1,401,881 in WSOP winnings. And, here's a notion that should make the poker world shake and shudder - he's not finished yet.
The $5,000 buy-in Short-Handed No-Limit Hold'em event attracted 507 entries. The tournament was played six players to a table. After 498 players had been eliminated over two long days, finalists took the final table on the Rio poker stage.
The six players comprised a tough lineup, most notably two former gold bracelet winners - "Captain" Tom Franklin and Jeff Madsen. Noted tournament professional Erick Lindgren was also competing for his first WSOP win along with Tony Woods, Jonathan Gaskell and Paul Foltyn.
When play began, Gaskell enjoyed a comfortable chip lead while Madsen was dead last in the chip count coming into the final table. That would certainly not be the case seven hours later, when the tournament ended and history was made.
Foltyn was the first out about two hours into play after taking a number of tough beats that left him severely short-stacked. Gaskell was the next player to go bust followed by Woods. Fourth to leave was Franklin who was making his second final table appearance this year.
That left Madsen and Lindgren to battle it out in heads-up action. Normally, a player in Madsen's unique position would be a huge crowd favorite when heads-up play commenced. But this wasn't the case. Lindgren, described by many of his peers as "the best poker player not to have won a WSOP gold bracelet," attracted a rowdy cheering section.
For a time, it looked like Lindgren wouldn't disappoint his legion of fans. The Vegas poker pro enjoyed the chip lead during most of the duel, but then suffered a horrendous turn of events that left everyone in a stunned state of disbelief.
After taking a few beats and losing coin flip situations (Lindgren's pocket eights losing to Madsen's A-K when an ace flopped completely changed the momentum of the contest), Lindgren lost his final hand of the night holding A-J suited versus Madsen's Q-9. The final board showed K-Q-2-5-3 - good for a pair of queens for Madsen.
Lindgren could not have been more disappointed with a $357,435 payoff. No amount of consolation could ease the painful sting of defeat. However, like Gentleman John Gale the previous year - who lost a WSOP tournament in the most dramatic way possible, only to come back and win an event this year - Lindgren's day shall come.
The question everyone is now asking is "what will Madsen do next?" He'll be competing for what could be a record-third gold bracelet over the next week. Madsen will also play in the Main Event, which begins Friday. But beyond that, what does a 21-year-old college student do with $1.4 million and two WSOP titles?
Demonstrating maturity and composure far beyond his years, Madsen said he expects to return to college in the fall for his senior year. The Cal State-Santa Barbara film student still wants to pursue a career in movies. Perhaps Madsen's first film should be a remake of "Kid Millions."