What could have been a storybook ending to a legendary career failed to come to fruition on Tuesday night at the 2018 World Series of Poker. Living legend Doyle Brunson, in what he indicated would be the final tournament of his lengthy career, came up short as Brian Rast captured the title of Event #20.
WSOP Event #20 – $10,000 No-Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball Draw Championship
The stellar field of 11 men gathered to decide the title for Event #20 without a doubt had the credentials. Twenty-four WSOP bracelets were represented among the remaining players from the 95-runner field, with Mike Wattel the only player over a million chips with his 1.293-million stack. But all eyes in the Rio in Las Vegas were locked on Brunson, the 84-year-old two-time world champion who sat in the middle of the pack with dreams of taking his 11th WSOP bracelet in what he has said would be his swan song to the tournament poker world.
There was the matter of deciding the final table first. Galen Hall, Todd Brunson and Ray Dehkharghani were dismissed within the first hour of play to leave eight men at the felt. Doyle Brunson was having a bit of a tough time, dropping about 200,000 from his stack and looking up from sixth place at Wattel and Rast. But he would display a flash of the wizardry at the game of poker as he went on a nice run to raise the hopes of the rail.
Brunson got a bit healthier by doubling through Rast, then took chips from Wattel, John Hennigan and James Alexander in two different hands to get to 665,000 in chips. That was the apex of the day for “Texas Dolly,” however, as the chips slipped away after that point. Farzad Bonyadi was eliminated in eighth place to set the final table, then Hennigan were eliminated in seventh, as Brunson attempted to mount a fight against Dario Sammartino. That came out wrong, however, when Brunson couldn’t draw anything lower than a queen as Sammartino stood pat on his jack. Down to scraps (186,000), Alexander could be the answer to a trivia question in the future (“Who was the last man to eliminate Doyle Brunson from a poker tournament?”) when he drew a deuce to finish off a ten-low and Brunson could only muster a king-low.
Rast, Wattel battle heads-up
After the audience saluted the poker deity with a rousing cheer for his sixth-place finish, the rest of the tournament was a bit anticlimactic. Rast and Wattel would prove to be the class of the table, with Rast entering heads-up play with an almost 4:1 lead, but the mano a mano fight would last much longer than many thought. Rast got Wattel nearly down to the felt as Wattel folded many hands in hunt of something to double his stack. But Wattel fought valiantly as he looked to get back in the game.
Although he would climb back on a few occasions to close the gap, Wattel never saw the lead. On the final hand, Rast popped the action and Wattel stuck his remaining stack (around 1.2 million) in the center. After a moment of contemplation, Rast made the call and both players patted (didn’t draw), with Wattel commenting he had a ten-low. That wasn’t good enough as Rast showed a 9-8-7-6-2 to beat Wattel’s 10-7-6-4-2 to capture his fourth WSOP bracelet and the Event #20 championship.
(Farzad Bonyadi, who finished eighth for $24,775, was not officially a part of the final table.)