Nick Jivkov wins pot-limit title

This may be understatement of all understatements, but Nick Jivkov is enjoying his most recent trip to Las Vegas and the Rio. The 34-year-old semi-professional poker player and businessman from Des Plaines, Ill., started his trip off right with a victory in one of the daily deep stack events and then, facing a final table in Event 5, $1,500 pot-limit hold 'em, that included Daniel Negreanu, Tommy Vedes, John Eames, and Jon Aguiar, he won his first WSOP bracelet and a career-best $189,818 in prize money. Not a bad way to spend four days.

His solid run to start his 10-day trip to Las Vegas is far from the agonizing 50-day cashless trip from 2011. Now a bracelet winner, Jivkov has found redemption after decades of work at the felt.

"This has been 15 years in the working," Jivkov said to the WSOP. "I started playing poker way before Moneymaker or way before the blow-up. There wasn't even any no-limit. I probably started playing poker in the casinos when I was 18 years old, and I'm 34 years old now. I've been working really, really hard on my game and to finally win a bracelet … It's just surreal. I can't explain it. It's an amazing feeling."

This was Jivkov's first WSOP cash. He has 10 cashes and one title (from 2010) on the World Series of Poker Circuit, however. The experience of the Circuit appeared to keep him poised at a final table where nearly all of his competition boasted major poker successes.

"I found myself much more composed and much more patient and not nervous than what I was expecting," he said. "I expected to be a lot more nervous standing here in the main stage of WSOP playing for a bracelet. As the game started off, maybe I was a tad bit nervous, I wasn't getting any hands. Then as I started building up a chip stack and I started busting people one by one, I started getting a lot more confident. I got a lot more calm and towards the end when the heads-up play began I had a lot of confidence in myself, a lot of confidence in my game. So, I felt confident, I felt this thing was mine. I just knew it."

Jivkov defeated the talented Bryan "PrimordialAA" Pellegrino heads-up for the title. Pellegrino, 25, earned $117,199, giving him $370,116 in career tournament earnings. The two played heads-up for nearly two hours with Jivkov in control throughout the entire confrontation. On the final hand, Jivkov's 10-10 held against Pellegrino's J-9 with the chips all-in preflop.

The final table was played at the ESPN feature table with the majority of fans in attendance waiting to see if Negreanu could capture his fifth WSOP title. Instead, Negreanu's 53rd career WSOP cash would result in a fifth-place finish as his A-Q fell to the A-J and rivered straight of Jivkov. Since 2008, when Negreanu won his last bracelet, he's finished in the top eight of a WSOP event an incredible nine times, including two runner-up results. Negreanu earned $41,683 from this event.

Recent WPT Champion Tommy Vedes finished in fourth after competing with Jivkov for the chip lead four-handed. Jivkov did just about all of the damage to Vedes' stack in two hands where he caught key cards on the turn and river. This was Vedes' highest career WSOP finish out of his 18 cashes. He earned $55,960, giving him a lifetime total of $633,413 in winnings from the WSOP felt.

Aguiar was eliminated by Jivkov in third when his A-Q couldn't win the coin flip against Jivkov's 9-9. This was Aguiar's second WSOP final table.

The field of 639 players for the event was a steep decrease from the 765 in 2011.

Other notable finishers include James Mackey (11th), Nam Le (16th), John Juanda (18th) and Antonio Esfandiari (44th).

Below are the complete results of Event 5 at the 2012 World Series of Poker:

Event 5: Pot-limit hold 'em
Buy-in: $1,500
Entries: 639
Prize pool: $862,650
Players in the money: 72

1. Nick Jivkov ($189,818)
2. Bryan Pellegrino ($117,199)
3. Jonathan Aguiar ($76,189)
4. Tommy Vedes ($55,960)
5. Daniel Negreanu ($41,683)
6. Mike Allis ($31,452)
7. Brant Hale ($24,007)
8. John Eames ($18,529)
9. Keanu Tabali ($14,449)
10. Thom Werthmann ($11,361)
11. James Mackey ($11,361)
12. Steve Brecher ($11,361)
13. Jack Ellwood ($9,075)
14. Kazuhito Oshima ($9,075)
15. Corey Burbick ($9,075)
16. Nam Le ($7,254)
17. Justin Gardenhire ($7,254)
18. John Juanda ($7,254)
19. Jen-Yue Chiang ($5,883)
20. Alfred Mottur ($5,883)
21. Brian Schwartz ($5,883)
22. Jonathan Halyalkar ($5,883)
23. Clayton Mozdzen ($5,883)
24. Arturo Alaniz ($5,883)
25. Tom Franklin ($5,883)
26. Cristopher Legaspi ($5,883)
27. Philipp Salewski ($5,883)
28. Eugene Du Plessis ($4,830)
29. Christopher Kassela ($4,830)
30. Scott Willis ($4,830)
31. Jeremiah Vinsant ($4,830)
32. Zach Jiganti ($4,830)
33. Ali Alawadhi ($4,830)
34. Grudi Grudev ($4,830)
35. Tod Holley ($4,830)
36. Myro Garcia ($4,830)
37. Charalampos Lappas ($4,011)
38. Terrence Chan ($4,011)
39. Gregory Ronaldson ($4,011)
40. Matthew Alexander ($4,011)
41. Mike Beasley ($4,011)
42. Yashar Darian ($4,011)
43. Jarred Solomon ($4,011)
44. Antonio Esfandiari ($4,011)
45. Ryan Tepen ($4,011)
46. Jordan Smith ($3,364)
47. Marco Palacios ($3,364)
48. Scott Oreilly ($3,364)
49. Benjamin Palmer ($3,364)
50. Manuel Davidian ($3,364)
51. Richard Tsai ($3,364)
52. Larry Wright ($3,364)
53. Brian Baron ($3,364)
54. Carlos Loving ($3,364)
55. Brett Wiesner ($2,846)
56. Konstantin Puchkov ($2,846)
57. Jared Hamby ($2,846)
58. Gnatenko Oleksander ($2,846)
59. Toby Lewis ($2,846)
60. Joseph Kuether ($2,846)
61. Stanislav Barshak ($2,846)
62. Jon Van Fleet ($2,846)
63. Doug Carli ($2,846)
64. Ken Lennaard ($2,432)
65. Ravi Raghavan ($2,432)
66. Anh Van Nguyen ($2,432)
67. Jason Staalesen ($2,432)
68. Christopher Mintchev ($2,432)
69. Alan Sternberg ($2,432)
70. Ryan Normand ($2,432)
71. Fabien Perrot ($2,432)
72. Barry Wiedemann ($2,432)