Thai Ha – Photo Credit: WSOP / Danny Maxwell
Thai Ha has taken home the gold bracelet in the $1,500 short deck event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 13. The Vietnamese poker player captured his first WSOP title with the victory along with a top prize worth $111,170. In fact, this was his very first tournament win, and Ha now holds more than $500,000 in career earnings.
“It feels great. Short deck is one of the games I play the most and I got second twice already so this time it definitely feels great not to get second again. I feel like short deck is my strongest game,” said Ha to reporters after the win. He also had this to say about the heads-up final against poker professional David Prociak, “He’s pretty good but I have a little bit more experience in short deck than him so I felt comfortable playing heads up. But he’s good in every game and he’s picking up short deck very fast. He wasn’t an easy opponent”
The tournament took just two days to play out, with the final nine returning for the last day of play. The total field size was set at 363 entries, with the top 55 min-cashing for $2,413. Notables that made the money included Stuart Rutter (16th), five-time gold bracelet winner Adam Friedman (23rd), Patrick Leonard (30th), nine-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner Roland Israelashvili (31st), Alex Epstein (45th), and Martin Zamani (54th).
Ha was third in chips when the final day began, and he took out Marco Exterkotter in eighth place for his first elimination punch of the day. That moved him up to second in chips with seven players remaining at the final table. Ha then took out Matan Gabay in seventh place to narrow the gap between his stack and the chip leader Prociak.
Ha also took out bracelet winner Ryan Laplante in fifth place, but Prociak eliminated Robert James in third place to give him 6.3 million for the final showdown for the title. That meant that Ha had his work cut out for him with 2.8 million in his stack for heads-up play.
Ha fought back over the course of an hour to even up the chip counts, winning a pivotal hand where he flopped a nut straight to take the chip lead for the first time. All of the chips only got into the middle one time between the final two players. Ha picked off a bluff from Prociak in the penultimate hand of the tournament, so Prociak was low when he got all in holding KJ. Ha woke up with pocket queens, and the board fell AJ887. Prociak took home $68,712 as the runner-up, and the poker professional with a gold bracelet and two WSOP Circuit gold rings to his credit bumped his career earnings above $2 million.
Here is a look at the payouts awarded at the final table: