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A field of 731 entries ended with an all-Texas heads-up, a marriage proposal and a first-ever WSOP bracelet for AP ‘Lou’ Garza as he overcame state-mate Arthur Morris to capture the Pot Limit Omaha Championship, the Event #50 WSOP bracelet and the top prize of an incredible $1,309,232.
The journey to the final day started with a final table that was eight-handed the day before. Only five would make the last day of action, and that meant three players would reach the final table but miss out on the glitz and glamor of waking up to play for a WSOP bracelet. Bubbling the final table itself was one of the chip leaders in the event, Bulgarian player Dimitar Danchev, which only served to highlight the quality of the players on show.
The first person to reach the last eight but miss out on the final table was Ren Lin, whose list of results in the last 12 months reads like a guidebook on how to become a dependably winning player at high stakes poker. Lin lost out to AP Garza, whose turned full house was plenty good enough to send one of two Chinese players to reach the final eight players home in eighth place for a result worth $124,243.
One player from the Far East was gone, and pretty soon, another joined them on the rail. Japanese player Kosei Ichinose has enjoyed a profitable WSOP so far this summer, not only in this tournament but cashing in Mixed Omaha Event #45 too, as well as reaching Day 2 of the latest event, Event #58, the $3,000 NLHE tournament, in the top half of the remaining players. Ichinose was unable to last longer than seventh place in this event, however, after Garza again eliminated the unfortunate player, this time by rivering a nut flush in hearts to find a better flush than his Japanese opponent, sending Ichinose to the rail with $163,405.
Out in sixth place and missing out on the final day of action was the American high roller regular and former 2019 Poker Masters winner Sam Soverel. He earned $218,297 when his wrap draw missed everything on both turn and river, the beneficiary being China’s Peng Shan, who remained in the middle of the pack behind overnight leader Stanislav Halatenko from the Ukraine.
It was a long time before the player in fifth place left the action, with a topsy-turvy period of play catapulting the short stack AP Garza, known to many as ‘Lou’, climbed off the bottom of the chipcounts and got himself involved at the other end of the leaderboard instead. The first elimination saw Shan taken out for his last ten big blinds, with the overnight chip leader Halatenko winning with a pair of kings in his hand good enough to send the Chinese player home with $296,154.
With one gone, another soon followed. Travis Pearson busted in fourth place for $407,915 when his pocket jacks and a lovely-looking drawing hand from the flop failed to improve, as Garza’s pair of queens improved to a full house on the river. Pearson’s elimination in third meant that Halatenko and Garza shared close to 90% of the total chips in play. Languishing as short stack was Arthur Morris, but everything was about to change.
Down to six blinds, the Texan was determined to meet Garza, who also hails from The Lone Star State, heads up. With nothing to lose, Morris bounced off the canvas and in the spirit of Pot Limit Omaha, changed everything, winning hand after hand to lead the event. A crestfallen Halatenko plummeted and having gone in the other direction, busted to Morris, who improved to a better pair on the turn and to wild cheers of “Hold, hold, hold!” from his rail, won the pot and went into the final duel with a few more chips than the eventual champion. The overnight leader, Halatenko had cashed for $570,307 in third place.
With Garza slightly behind heading into the final duel, that all changed after a big bluff with only a pair of fives set Garza into the lead. A huge final hand played out to great drama as the rail swelled, in particular at Garza’s end of the Thunderdome at the Horseshoe Las Vegas. With the neon lights shimmering around the arena, Garza positioned himself in front and pushed down on the accelerator. Morris was all-in for 20 big blinds, Garza called, covering him more than 2:1 in chips. On a flop of Q-4-2, Morris had a pair, holding A-Q-9-9. Garza had A-4-3-3 with a gutshot, nut flush draw and a live pair out there.
Morris had to sweat 15 outs, and he couldn’t. A four landed on the river and Garza – and his fans went crazy. The winning Texan hugged with the losing one, as Morris took one last glance back at the board on his way to collecting the runner-up prize of $809,167.
Of course, she said yes. Here’s that winning hand and celebratory moment in full.
AP "Sweet Lou" Garza is the @WSOP $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Champion!All the money goes in on a queen-high flop and @ApLouisGarzaJr1 finds a four on the river to deliver him his first gold bracelet and a prize worth $1,309,232.📺 – Event Replay: https://t.co/uGj6OPR71C pic.twitter.com/gXOxsuCyxw— PokerGO (@PokerGO) June 25, 2023
AP "Sweet Lou" Garza is the @WSOP $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Champion!
All the money goes in on a queen-high flop and @ApLouisGarzaJr1 finds a four on the river to deliver him his first gold bracelet and a prize worth $1,309,232.
📺 – Event Replay: https://t.co/uGj6OPR71C pic.twitter.com/gXOxsuCyxw
— PokerGO (@PokerGO) June 25, 2023
Garza, however, wasn’t finished. Euphoric celebrations with his rail continued for a few minutes until the rail was no more and they all joined him on the final table stage. Garza embraced his girlfriend, then in scenes straight out of a Hollywood movie, got down on one knee and popped the question.
Immediately following his victory, Garza proposed to his girlfriend who was on the rail for his win.“Don’t think any other time would be right besides now because I don’t think I would even be right here without her.” https://t.co/HDaO3nzwNQ pic.twitter.com/dZ4BT1jbgc— PokerGO (@PokerGO) June 25, 2023
Immediately following his victory, Garza proposed to his girlfriend who was on the rail for his win.
“Don’t think any other time would be right besides now because I don’t think I would even be right here without her.” https://t.co/HDaO3nzwNQ pic.twitter.com/dZ4BT1jbgc
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