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First place for Zhang in WSOP $500 Salute to Warriors

4 November 2021

Eric Zhang

Eric Zhang (photo by WSOP)

The 2021 World Series of Poker Event #63: $500 Salute to Warriors returned Thursday with nine players left to battle for a top prize of $102,465 and Eric Zhang came out victorious to win his first WSOP bracelet after just three levels of play. He outlasted a field of 1,738 players to follow in the footsteps of Susan Farber, winner of the very first edition of the tournament in 2019.

Zhang has been playing poker as a hobby for the last 10 years and came to Las Vegas on vacation to play his very first and only WSOP event

"It's a dream come true! I remember as a kid watching the World Series of Poker, and the victory of Chris Moneymaker on the Main Event" said Zhang right after his photoshoot.

"I always loved poker but I only started playing a couple years ago, mainly cash games, not really tournaments. But the WSOP is always a very special occasion and I took some time off work because I really wanted to come here. This is the very one event I planned of playing. It's an affordable event, plus a great cause, and I'm going on vacation to Morocco and Europe right after."

San Francisco's Zhang entered the final table second in chips and took down the coveted bracelet after only two hours of play.

"Every day waking up it felt like surreal. I would never have thought I would make it this far. I actually had a flight to leave Vegas this morning so I rebooked everything! I'm going to remember this forever and I'll definitely come back next year to play more events."

No doubt the vacations of the newly crowded WSOP champion will have an even sweeter flavor now. "I already had some good time and celebrations planned after this trip but it really up the notch more after this. A lot of friends have been supported me also back home. I'll have to wear my bracelet now when I'm playing home games with my friends!"

The final table started at noon local time following the presentation of the $64,827 check for the USO organization. Only 30 minutes in, Anthony Mccurdy became the first casualty of the day, his pocket eights running into Chulhan Choi's pocket kings.

That led to another two quick eliminations with Christopher Corbo (8th - $12,471), who lost his last three big blinds against Mitch Garshofsky, followed by Hlib Kovtunov (7th - $15,943), after moving all in with two pair on the flop only to see a set of deuces in Zhang's hand, who improved into quads on the river.

Guy Hadas was responsible of the next elimination, that of ??Marty Zabib. In a blind-versus-blind all-in preflop, Zabib was ahead with jack-seven versus ten-five off for Hadas, but the latter found a pair of tens to eliminate Zabib in sixth place for $20,592.

Garshofsky was left as the shortest stack after Hadas doubled through him, while the other four players passed chips around the table. Garshofsky shoved on the button with ten-nine offsuit but Bradley Rogoff woke up with pocket queens and even though the flop gave him a gutshot straight draw, Garshofsky didn't hit one of his outs on the rest of the board and was eliminated from the tournament for his 68th career WSOP Las Vegas cash.

Choi didn't take long to follow him at the payout desk, also eliminated by Rogoff, when he shoved in the small blind with queen-nine suited, only to see pocket tens in Rogoff's hand.

However, with just three players remaining and the blinds escalating quickly, Rogoff's good fortune didn't last long and picked the wrong time to shove his 14 big blinds with ace-seven suited against Hadas who called with ace-queen in the big blind. Rogoff hit a pair of sevens on the flop, but a queen showed up on the river, ending Rogoff's run in third place for $47,125.

The battle for the bracelet began with a slight advantage of chips for Zhang, but he quickly took the lead, forcing a fold from Hadas on the first two hands of the heads-up.

A few moments after, Hadas limp-called a raise from Zhang and the duo saw a flop of . Hadas called another bet from Zhang and shoved on the turn after Zhang fired a second barrel. Hadas revealed for a straight draw and a flush draw and was facing for Zhang, ahead with top pair and a straight draw. The river didn't change anything with the , sealing the end of the tournament.

Hadas had to settle for runner-up and a consolation prize of $63,344 while Zhang took the gold and his best live cash of $102,465.

Final Table Results
1 Eric Zhang United States $102,465
2 Guy Hadas United States $63,344
3 Bradley Rogoff United States $47,125
4 Chulhan Choi South Korea $35,406
5 Mitch Garshofsky United States $26,866
6 Marty Zabib United States $20,592
7 Hlib Kovtunov Ukraine $15,943
8 Christopher Corbo United States $12,471
9 Anthony Mccurdy United States $9,857

(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)

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First place for Zhang in WSOP $500 Salute to Warriors is republished from