Every year at the World Series of Poker the powers that be come up with new events to draw in the crowds and inspire something special to happen.
The Colossus, the Millionaire Maker, the Monster Stack ... all new events introduced over the last couple of years to great success.
This year it was the 888poker-inspired 8-handed Crazy Eights event with an $888 buy-in and a first-place prize of $888,888.
Fittingly, it was an amazing "crazy" story that emerged in the end.
Hung Le, a father-of-five who runs a nail salon in Ohio, came to Vegas "to get lucky" and walked away with his first-ever live event win and "life-changing" money for his family.
Feel-Good Story Never Gets Old
No matter the format, nothing gets old about an underdog beating both variance and a range of professional players in a massive poker tournament.
Le, 53 years old, was born in Saigon but has lived in the United States for over three decades. He runs a nail salon in Dayton, Ohio, to support his five children - two of which work at the salon.
Le plays $1/$2 cash games in his local casino from time to time and went to Las Vegas to play one WSOP event - a tournament with 6,761 entrants, played over four days and riddled with poker pros.
And he won it.
Le was refreshingly open after the tournament, saying he was outclassed by many opponents and chose a rare high-variance strategy to try to compete, making moves that were erratic and sometimes even bizarre.
Spectacular Call to Finish
His heads-up opponent was American professional Michael Lech, who tried to push the amateur around with relentless aggression but was eventually taken off guard by an astounding call.
On a A♦ T♣ 4♦ 8♦ board Le bet and Lech check-raised all-in. Somehow Le found a call with pocket deuces and Lech only had Q-J for an inside straight draw. The river blanked, and Hung Le was a WSOP gold bracelet winner.
“It’s the only way I can beat him," Le said after the final hand. "He’s too good for me.
“He was very aggressive. He knows how to play the flop good. If I try to play the flop with him, I can’t beat him – he’s too good.”
Life-Changing Win Among the Pros
After advancing past the first 6,700+ players Le had a tough final table waiting for him.
Along with Lech there was Dimitar Danchev, a Bulgarian pro with over $4m in live earnings, and Loni Harwood, a two-time WSOP bracelet winner.
To Le’s benefit, both were taken out by Lech and the amateur didn’t need to get involved much early.
Entering heads-up well behind Lech in chips it looked all but over until Le was all in with Q-3 and a three hit.
Taking the chip lead on that hand Le made his call with deuces a few hands later to stun Lech and thrill his family on the rail.
“I tried to come out to Las Vegas to get lucky,” said Le. “I have five kids. We are a lower middle class family. We work hard. This is life-changing money for us.”
Final-table payouts for Event #54, $888 Crazy Eights 8-Handed NLHE:
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