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Belgian poker pro wins third gold bracelet

24 June 2016

Michael Gathy

Michael Gathy (photo by WSOP)

Meet the latest WSOP gold bracelet champion
Name: Michael Gathy
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Age: 27
Current Residence: Brussels, Belgium
Marital Status: Single
Children: None
Profession: Professional Poker Player
Number of WSOP Cashes: 15
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 5
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 3
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 1st (2012, 2013)
Total WSOP Earnings: $1,463,269
Personal Facts: Gathy was previously a college student who studied medicine

Winner's Quote:
"What is next after this victory – well, I'd really like to win an EPT event. But anything I win is fine by me."

Michael Gathy has just won his third career gold bracelet at the World Series of Poker.

This time, the poker pro from Brussels, Belgium won the $5,000 buy-in Six-Handed NoLimit Hold'em tournament, which was played over three days and nights and just concluded at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Gathy collected $448,463 in prize money, making this one of the biggest wins of his career. Gathy's very first WSOP victory came in 2012 ($1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em). His second win took place in 2013 ($1,000 buy-in Turbo No-Limit Hold'em). With this triumph, he joins fellow countryman Davidi Kitai as the winningest Belgian poker player in history. Only two Belgians have won WSOP gold bracelets, to date – Kitai and Gathy.

"We don't have that many Belgian poker players -- but the ones we have are great," Gathy joked afterward.

Gathy won his victory by coming out on top at a final table which included an international consortium of talent. Nations represented included Belgium, France, Spain, England, Vietnam, Australia, and the United States.

The final moment of glory came when Gathy scooped the final pot of the tournament against Adrien Allain, who finished as the runner up. The French poker player put up a tough fight and received $346,632 as a consolation prize. This was a night of mixed emotions for the French poker community. Not only did Allain come close without the victory. So too did Fabrice Soulier, who finished second in an adjacent tournament just moments before this competition ended.

Gathy stumbled into poker quite by accident. Seven years ago, was a college student studying medicine. He deposited $50 into an online poker site, and became proficient at the game. In his first two years to attend the WSOP, he won gold bracelets. The third took a while longer, but he achieved the feat. And now, the race is on in Belgium's poker circles to see if Gathy or Kitai (or someone new) will eventually go down as Belgium's greatest poker player.

"Davidi was very kind to me. He came over and wished me good luck," Gathy said. "But, I'd like to take the lead on him, because he has always been ahead of me. I am playing more events this year, maybe 25 in all, so we will see."

This tourney attracted 541 entrants which created a prize pool totaling $2,542,700. The top 82 finishers collected prize money.

Aside from the winner, here's a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Second Place: Adrien Allain, from Rennes, France finished as the runner up. He had plenty of chips once play became five-handed. He even had the chip lead when playing heads-up. However, Gathy was able to seize command and defeated the Frenchman in his highest finish and biggest payout at the WSOP yet. He earned $346,632 in prize money. Allain previously finished twice in events at the WSOP.

Third Place: Manuel Saavedra Nunez, from Badajoz, Spain cashed for the first time ever in a WSOP. This debut payout came to $229,990.

Fourth Place: Blake Eastman, from New York, NY posted his first WSOP cash and made it count for a payout totaling $155,762. Eastman, who has worked in behavioral science, has conducted studies on poker players and has a website devoted to poker tells and the psychology behind certain patterns of behavior. Those lessons learned apparently proved useful, judging by these results.

Fifth Place: Scott Margereson, from the U.K., finished fourth. He cashed for the first time at the WSOP last year in the Main Event Championship and has since posted two more in-the-money finishes. This first final table at the series resulted in a payout totaling $107,723.

Sixth Place: Thi Nguyen, originally from Hai Duong, Vietnam and now residing in France, took a tough beat on her final hand against the chip leader, and went bust in sixth place. She's now cashed three times at the series. Nguyen earned $76,112 in prize money.

Seventh Place: Thomas Bolvin, from Charleroi, Belgium was the first player eliminated off the final table. This was his fifth time to cash at the series, including an in-the-money finish in the WSOP Main Event Championship last year. Bolvin collected $54,966.

This was the 35th official event on this year's schedule. This leaves 34 gold bracelet events still to be played at the 2016 WSOP.

Other notable in-the money finishers:
Jonathan Little -- poker pro, author, and instructor – finished in 13th place, which was his 31st time to cash in a WSOP event.

Georgios Sotiropoulos, a gold bracelet winner, finished in 22nd place.

Max Greenwood, a gold bracelet winner, finished in 26th place.

Jake Cody, a gold bracelet winner and the youngest player ever to win poker's "Triple Crown" (WSOP, WPT, EPT), came in 34th.

Joe Hachem, the 2005 world poker champion, finished in 44th place.

Ismael Bojang, who holds the record for most cashes in a single year in WSOP event, cashed for the seventh time at this series.

Brandon Cantu, a two-time gold bracelet winner, finished in 54th place.

Ryan Laplante, who won a gold bracelet at this year's WSOP, cashed in 56th place. This was his ninth cash of the series. He's currently on a torrid pace to obliterate the record set by Ismael Bojang, who coincidentally, also cashed in this tournament.

Pierre Neuville, who finished seventh in the 2015 WSOP Main Event Championship, cashed in 57th place.

Jeff Papola, a gold bracelet winner, finished in 58th place.

Matt Waxman, a gold bracelet winner, came in 63rd.

Dutch Boyd, a three-time gold bracelet winner, came in 68th place.

Alex Bolotin, a gold bracelet winner, took 80th place.

Fun facts:
The ages of participants ranged from 21 to 76. The eldest player in the field was T.J. Cloutier. The average age of players was 34 – one of the youngest fields of this year's series.

The breakdown of player nationalities for this event was 362 Americans and 179 players from elsewhere. The top five nations represented was the United States, Great Britain, Canada, France, and Russia.

The breakdown of participants by gender was 543 male and 16 female – 97 percent to 3 percent.

(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)

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