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15-year quest for WSOP gold bracelet comes to an end

21 June 2024

George Alexander

George Alexander (photo by WSOP)

"It's been 15 years. I think I've made nine final tables."

Those were the first words George Alexander chose to celebrate his inaugural World Series of Poker bracelet when he defeated Dzmitry Urbanovich heads up to win Event #50: $10,000 Razz Championship, ending a lengthy wait that had seen so many close calls.

"Quite emotional. I've been locked in all day. Didn't want to think about how many chips I had or what was going on. I tried to play every hand as well as I could. It all just hit me at the end," Alexander said after securing the jewelry and $282,443 first-place prize. "I've been playing in the World Series for about 15 years, so many final tables, but never quite got one so it's a huge sigh of relief to finally get one."

Alexander had been in this spot several times before but couldn't get over the finish line until today. He had seven top-ten finishes in WSOP events with his best result being third place in the $1,500 Dealers Choice in 2018. Four of those have come in $10,000 Championship events, including seventh in the Dealers Choice Championship earlier this series.

All those near-misses under the bright lights of a final table served him well today. "Massively. I've been in a lot of spots with like half the chips in play, chip leader with like three people, five people. And this time I wasn't even thinking about the situation. It was all about letting lady luck, if she wanted it to, give it to me this time," he said.

To get his first bracelet, Alexander had to conquer one of the most talent-packed fields on the WSOP calendar. The 12 players who returned on Day 3 had a combined 30 bracelets between them, including the likes of Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu. It's a challenge that Alexander relishes and makes his win all the more meaningful.

"I like the 10Ks more than the 1,500s. I've enjoyed battling the best of the best. I enjoy it a lot more than the random fields. It is more meaningful, and also it being like a world championship," he said. "Razz is one of my favorite games. A lot of people dismiss it. They say Razz is simple, boring, but I love the nuance in it. I think it has a lot of room for creativity. I'm quite happy that it came in Razz."

Alexander's journey to the bracelet began when he was still young. He spent several years as a professional poker player but had taken a step back from the game in recent years to focus on his other career. He's now a Crypto investor, running his own firm, Selini Capital, and hosting his own YouTube podcast titled "Steady Lads Podcast."

"I used to play professionally when I was a kid. I played for a few years in my early 20s. Ever since I've been a recreational player, but in the back of my head I still have all the work that I put in back in the day. It was pre-solver days. I don't play as much no-limit. I think it would be quite hard for me to keep up there. But for mixed games, I think I can still match the best evenly," he said.

Day 3 began with 12 players remaining out of a starting field of 118. Five-time bracelet winner Brian Yoon was the first to bust when he ran into Denis Strebkov's nine-six. Negreanu was then eliminated in 11th place by Ivey with a jack-eight versus jack-seven.

Former WSOP Player of the Year Robert Campbell bubbled the nine-handed final table when he got his extreme short stack in against John Racener and Ren Lin. Racener ended up making a 6-4 and Campbell was sent to the rail in tenth place. Brandon Shack-Harris, chip leader at the start of the day, maintained his big advantage at the start of the final table with 1,920,000, while Alexander was in second place with 1,050,000.

Ivey came in as a short stack and quickly fell in ninth place as Shack-Harris made a ten-eight to bust the 11-time bracelet winner. Strebkov, the Russian online superstar who has won an astounding 17 combined WCOOP and SCOOP titles, fell in eighth when Urbanovich made a six-four.

Racener vaulted up the chip counts when he caught a wheel on seventh street to take a massive pot off Shack-Harris, climbing over 1,000,000. Alexander then made a 7-6 in a big pot against Jared Bleznick, knocking Bleznick down to 450,000. Bleznick busted shortly afterward against Racener's seven-six.

It was a steady downfall for Racener from there, however, as Shack-Harris won a big pot with a nine-seven. Left with just a few chips, Racener was all in against Lin but ended up with a full house against Lin's king to finish in sixth place, denying him his second bracelet of the summer.

The flamboyant Lin took the chip lead in a massive pot against Hal Rotholz with 8-6-4 against 8-6-5. Urbanovich then took down a massive three-way pot with a 6-5 as he joined Alexander over 2,000,000 and near the chip lead.

Shack-Harris eventually busted in fifth place against Alexander's seven-six. Alexander made another seven-six in a big pot against Lin to climb above 3,000,000, leaving Lin with less than 400,000. He then hit 4,000,000 after beating Urbanovich with a 10.

Rotholz, runner-up in this event two years ago, had just 30,000 remaining when he got all in against Alexander, who made an eight-six and forced Rotholz to settle for fourth this time. Lin doubled up once with his favorite card, a queen (or "Lady Gaga"), but soon afterward Alexander made a 7-4 to bust the affable, fun-loving Chinese pro in third place.

Alexander led Urbanovich 4,750,000 to 2,330,000 as each sought to win their first bracelet. Alexander began building a massive lead when he made a nine-four, knocking Urbanovich down to less than 1,000,000. Urbanovich then got all in on sixth street with a nine-draw, while Alexander made his nine-eight. Urbanovich missed with a queen as he had to settle for second place, bringing Alexander's decade-plus-long wait to an end.

The relief on Alexander's face was palpable once the final cards were tabled. He's spent years battling the best players in the world, holding his own if not quite able to cross the finish line. He finally did it today, and the journey made it only sweeter.

Final Table Results
1 George Alexander United States $282,443
2 Dzmitry Urbanovich Poland $188,296
3 Ren Lin China $130,447
4 Hal Rotholz United States $92,774
5 Brandon Shack-Harris United States $67,783
6 John Racener United States $50,915
7 Jared Bleznick United States $39,350
8 Denis Strebkov Russia $31,317

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