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David Simon cashes in with first WSOP bracelet

30 June 2023

David Simon

David Simon (photo by WSOP)

Prior to today, David Simon had six cashes in the 2023 World Series of Poker. His seventh comes with an incredible bonus - the title of WSOP bracelet winner. Simon outlasted a field of 2,076 entrants, four days of play, and a grueling heads-up battle against bracelet winner David Prociak to win $410,659 and his maiden bracelet in Event #62: $1,500 Mixed No-Limit Hold'em/Pot-Limit Omaha.

Simon, whose best cash prior to today was $18,158 in 2019, was confident but in disbelief as he spoke with PokerNews.

"I've played with a lot of people who have always been super positive with me and just been like, 'It's gonna happen for you at some point,'" said Simon. "I don't know if I myself really believed that, but during this event in particular I just felt incredibly calm and locked in."

The new champion, who lives on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, is cognizant of the effect this win has on his poker career.

"I think I've just gained so much confidence throughout this tournament and felt like I could actually hang in this event," said Simon. "To have a result like this is - not so much validation or anything, because I've never really put myself on that level - but it definitely just increases my confidence level and makes me so thankful for all my friends and family who have been so into everything that I've been doing."

The final five players returned to Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas for an unscheduled Day 4, which was streamed on PokerGO. Tsuf Saltsberg was the first to fall when his top pair fell to the flopped set of Prociak in No-Limit Hold'em.

Day 2 chipleader Eran Carmi departed shortly thereafter in fourth place. Carmi, out of Tel Aviv, Israel, was unable to complete his draws in Pot-Limit Omaha against Simon's flopped straight.

Eric Pfenning was out next, finishing in third place. Pfenning lost most of his chips when his ace-queen doubled up Simon's ace-king, and Prociak ended his day when he flopped two pair against Pfenning's ace high.

The David versus David matchup initially felt like David versus Goliath, with Prociak serving as the giant. He entered heads-up play with nearly a two-to-one chip advantage, and the 2016 $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better champion seemed primed to win a second bracelet. He attacked Simon relentlessly, and seemingly saw through the majority of his opponent's bluffs.

Simon found himself all in for his last 8,800,000 in Pot-Limit Omaha. Prociak had a set of tens, and Simon would need to find a flush or straight on the river. A jack of hearts was his salvation, completing his flush and doubling him up. From there, Simon began to grind.

"I think that honestly, David (Prociak) is a better player than I am," said Simon. "I know he's a better PLO player than I am, for sure. I didn't really want to try to mix it up with him in PLO too much. Obviously, once we're heads up then that's out the window. I was thinking that I was going to try to make him uncomfortable by playing bigger pots than he would probably want to. 'Cause I think that, in his mind, he had the advantage heads up - and I think he had every reason to think that way - so I made some bigger bets at the very beginning of heads up just to kind of put that fear in him a little bit."

"I don't know if that played a part or not, but once I doubled up I just felt super locked in, just each hand is like 'Alright, this seems like the decision to make on this street' - do it, you know,” said Simon. “There are times where I've played and I'm like 'Oh, this would probably be the thing to do at this moment' but I don't necessarily always follow through with it. Today, I was just like, 'Whatever you think is the right move here, just do it, and whatever happens is gonna happen.’”

Simon's play after doubling up enabled him to slowly chip away at Prociak's stack. Within 45 minutes, he had taken over the chip lead. Prociak regained the lead for a time, but Simon continued to win hand after hand. The final hand came in Pot-Limit Omaha. Prociak got his chips in the middle before he flopped a flush draw, but Simon turned a pair that held up. Prociak's day ended one spot short of where he had hoped, but his incredible run still netted him over a quarter of a million dollars.

What's next for the new champion?

"It seems like I'm going to be playing the Main Event at this point," laughed Simon. "My poker life is going to remain very much the same as it has been. I'm going to be here for another couple of weeks, play the Main Event, play some other stuff - gonna go to New Jersey, gonna see my family and hang out with my friends, who have been amazing. I have incredible family and friends that I just want to say thank you to them for everything that they've ever done for me. Then I'm probably going back to Kauai towards the end of the summer and get back into the cash game mix. There's a lot of cash that's going to be coming back to the ecosystem in Kauai."

Final table results:
Place Player Country Prize (in USD)
1 David Simon United States $410,659
2 David Prociak United States $253,821
3 Eric Pfenning United States $185,630
4 Eran Carmi Israel $137,058
5 Tsuf Saltsberg Israel $102,173
6 Robert Mizrachi United States $76,910
7 Upeshka De Silva United States $58,464
8 Guofeng Wang China $44,884

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