Andy Bloch wins first bracelet

In 2006, it looked like Andy Bloch was going to win his first bracelet in the $50,000 HORSE. Instead, Chip Reese put up a heads-up performance to remember to earn the win. In 2008, it was Nenad Medic's turn to stop Bloch heads-up in the $10,000 pot-limit hold 'em world championship. On Friday, it was once again a heads-up showdown between two of the game's elite as Andy Bloch faced off against three-time WSOP champion Barry Greenstein. This time around, Bloch wouldn't settle for second, and the man who was known to many as the best player without a bracelet has finally shed that title.

Bloch's victory over the field of 367 in the $1,500 seven-card stud event was far from his largest career WSOP payday, but to Bloch, owning that bracelet means the world.

"Now, no one can say, 'Andy Bloch is the best player to never win a gold bracelet,'" Bloch said moments after the victory to the WSOP. "That is really annoying because there are so many great other players too, who have not won. I've been coming here for 18 years now. I never thought it would have taken so long."

Bloch's first cash came in 1996 when he finished ninth in a $1,500 seven-card stud event. Until this victory, Bloch had cashed 26 more times, earning more than $2 million on the WSOP felt. He earned $126,363 for first place.

The 43-year-old professional poker player, and former member of the MIT Blackjack team, couldn't just coast to victory at this final table. In his way were a number of talented players who continued to enforce the trend that the final tables this year have been tougher than ever before.

Bloch began the final table third in chips behind David Williams (who won this event in 2006) and Greenstein. After the elimination of Scott Abrams in eighth, Bloch knocked out Caroline Hermesh in seventh, which kept him among the top of the chip counts until a key hand against Williams during five-handed play where Bloch couldn't beat Williams' full house.

With the levels increasing and each card getting more expensive, the chip counts shifted dramatically when the big pots occurred. Williams went from coasting in first with five players to go to out in fourth place in what seemed like an instant. He earned $36,470 in his first cash of the 2012 WSOP. Williams has $4.3 million in career WSOP earnings and $8.3 million in all tournament play.

"Out in [fourth] but proud of my effort," said Williams on Twitter. "Couldn't win a pot after the break, but sometimes it goes that way. Just more motivation for the future."

Stephen Su began three-handed play as the short stack, but as Greenstein basically held steady in second, Su and Bloch would consistently swap places at the top and the bottom of the chip counts. Bloch would emerge ahead by taking consecutive key pots from Su and eventually eliminating him. Bloch held a 3-to-1 chip lead over Greenstein to begin heads-up play, but he's seen this situation before on the WSOP felt. In 2006, Reese was down to his final card when he hit his draw and began his astonishing comeback. On the final hand, it was Bloch who made his hand. Facing Greenstein's eight-high straight after fifth street, Bloch had two pair with Q-Q-J-10-10. With two cards to come, Bloch would need to fill up with another Q or 10, or catch runner runner in order to make a higher straight. Sixth street brought an ace and Bloch was halfway there. The dealer put out seventh street and Bloch flipped over a king he'll never forget.

Greenstein earned $78,038 in his 53rd career WSOP cash. This was his second time to finish runner-up in a WSOP event.

The list of players to take Bloch's spot at the top of the best without a bracelet list is extensive, but looking objectively, there are two other players whose accomplishments were extremely similar to Bloch's entering this event. Both Shawn Buchanan and Michael Binger have each earned more than $2.2 million on the WSOP felt, with both owning 27 career WSOP cashes. Buchanan has finished second three times and Binger has finished third twice.

Other notable finishers include Fabrice Soulier (10th), Steve Billirakis (11th), Chau Giang (14th), Chris Tryba (17th) and Artie Cobb (35th). Cobb is one of two players who has won three seven-card stud bracelets.

Below are the complete results of Event 7 at the 2012 World Series of Poker:

Event 7: Seven-card stud
Buy-in: $1,500
Entries: 367
Prize pool: $495,450
Players in the money: 40

1. Andy Bloch ($126,363)
2. Barry Greenstein ($78,038)
3. Stephen Su ($50,332)
4. David Williams ($36,470)
5. Huu Vinh ($26,813)
6. Lee Goldman ($20,001)
7. Caroline Hermesh ($15,135)
8. Scott Abrams ($11,618)
9. Joseph Ranciato ($9,046)
10. Fabrice Soulier ($9,046)
11. Steve Billirakis ($7,144)
12. Matt Grapenthien ($7,144)
13. Mike Baxter ($5,717)
14. Chau Giang ($5,717)
15. Nicholas Verkaik ($4,637)
16. Timothy Finne ($4,637)
17. Chris Tryba ($3,814)
18. William Thompson ($3,814)
19. Marco Traniello ($3,814)
20. Jesse Martin ($3,814)
21. Devin Hanneman ($3,814)
22. Mike Ungurean ($3,814)
23. Cheryl Bradley ($3,814)
24. Sam Grizzle ($3,814)
25. Brett Richey ($3,200)
26. Vitaly Lunkin ($3,200)
27. Matthew Kelly ($3,200)
28. Matthias Kurtz ($3,200)
29. Sergey Pevzner ($3,200)
30. Justin Smith ($3,200)
31. Peter Campo ($3,200)
32. David Singer ($3,200)
33. Alan Zhang ($2,685)
34. Maxwell Troy ($2,685)
35. Artie Cobb ($2,685)
36. Gylbert Drolet ($2,685)
37. Mark Provenzano ($2,685)
38. Zaher Sayegh ($2,685)
39. Phil Tom ($2,685)
40. Viacheslav Zhukov ($2,685)