Only 14 players made the money in the $10,000 no-limit 2-7 draw lowball championship, and I bet you'd recognize every one. The 87-player field in Event 13 of the 2014 World Series of Poker was a who's who of the game's elite. That's partly a result of the steep price tag, but it's also a result of the fact that many of those who love the game, really love this variation.
Many believed Paul Volpe's time to shine came last year, at the 2013 World Series of Poker. He'd been one of the hottest players on tour leading up to the 2013 Series and the run, which began with a 20th-place finish in the 2012 main event, included final table after final table and six-figure score after six-figure score. Volpe was on fire and was Daniel Negreanu's first-round pick in last year's fantasy draft (sixth overall). Negreanu understood the caliber of player that was leading the poker world, but his pick didn't pay off, and a five-cash WSOP effort simply had him slide a bit on the industry's radar.
All that said, the talk that surrounds Volpe has always been about his incredible potential and on Thursday night, he proved he had what it takes to become a WSOP champion. Against one of the most-established final tables in recent history, one filled with six bracelet winners and one without (Volpe), he brought in the chip lead and exited with the bracelet, eliminating Negreanu in heads-up play to secure the title.
"It feels amazing to get my first bracelet, especially in the $10K 2-7, which is one of the toughest events of the summer," Volpe said to the WSOP. "I was confident I was going to win. I felt like I was going to win. It was a super-tough table. It was unbelievable getting heads-up against Daniel. If I have to pick one person to beat for my bracelet, it would be him."
Negreanu, a six-time bracelet winner, wasn't able to gain much ground during heads-up play. He correctly called one of Volpe's bets with a pair of twos, which was one of the most memorable hands of the night. Despite that effort, Volpe drew best and on the final hand, took one to create a J-10-7-6-2 to beat Negreanu's one-drawn Q-J-6-5-4.
"I think he wants to win so bad -- he plays amazing, I'm not saying he doesn't -- but as we were getting deeper and deeper, he could have been hesitant to put all the chips in," Volpe said about Negreanu. "He really wanted to get heads-up and go from there. So, I took advantage of that and put a lot of pressure back on him."
This was Negreanu's first cash out of eight events in the 2014 WSOP and the first step toward defending his WSOP Player of the Year title. Jason Mercier, third, has three cashes in the first 13 events.
Below are the complete results of Event 13 at the 2014 World Series of Poker:
Event 13: No-limit 2-7 draw lowball championship
Prize pool: $817,800
Players in the money: 14
1. Paul Volpe ($253,524)
2. Daniel Negreanu ($156,674)
3. Jason Mercier ($99,313)
4. Brian Rast ($67,264)
5. Larry Wright ($47,792)
6. John Monnette ($35,549)
7. Abe Mosseri ($27,633)
8. Rep Porter ($22,399)
9. Darren Elias ($19,283)
10. Ashton Griffin ($19,283)
11. Joe Cassidy ($19,283)
12. Greg Mueller ($16,601)
13. Mike Watson ($16,601)
14. Jon Turner ($16,601)