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New Orleans native wins first WSOP bracelet

9 July 2018

Anderson Ireland

Anderson Ireland (photo by WSOP)

Name: Anderson Ireland
Nationality: American
Birthplace: New Orleans, LA
Current Residence: New Orleans, LA
Age: 27
Profession: Tour Manager
Number of WSOP Cashes: 1
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 1
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP Finish: N/A
Total WSOP Earnings: $141,161

Anderson Ireland’s first trip to the World Series of Poker started out as a disaster. The New Orleans native came out for his first-ever WSOP and took a shot at the Main Event.

He busted on Day 2 before taking a shot at the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha bounty event. That event went much better.

Ireland defeated 833 entries, won his first bracelet and took home $141,161 on Sunday night. Despite having less than a year of experience with the game of pot-limit Omaha, and not a single cash on his tournament resume, the music manager defeated bracelet winner Matt O’Donnell in a heads-up battle that lasted for 4.5 hours and saw several lead changes.

“I’ve been working on it for a little while. I’ve been playing pot-limit Omaha for eight months now,” said Ireland. “I had some excellent teachers teach me the hard way – by taking my money. They’ll know who they are. I felt very confident the whole way through, too. It seemed very natural. It’s just such a better game than Texas hold’em.”

Ireland picked up no-limit hold’em about 2.5 years ago and it instantly consumed him. When he wasn’t working his normal job, managing a New Orleans-based brass band called The Soul Rebels, Ireland was spending most of his free time on the felt.

He was never a fan of tournament poker, however, until there was a void of good cash games while he was on the road for work.

“I was playing cash pretty regularly for a couple years and I see these tournaments around . . . I was traveling and I saw this turbo tournament in a room that I was playing randomly. I had nothing else to do, so I signed up for it and I got first-place in that tournament.”

The win sparked his interest and began to put in work on his tournament game. He started off by playing daily tournaments at Harrah’s New Orleans before doing some regional travel to get more experience.

“There were some series in Biloxi and around the region that I fired a couple bullets in,” said Ireland.

He started keeping record of his tournament results and started preparing for his first trip out to Las Vegas to play against the game’s best.

After busting the Main Event at their first-ever WSOP, most would be dejected and either find a bar or a cash game. Or both. Instead, the 27-year-old hopped in the next event he possibly could and won it three days later.

The final day kicked off at 2 p.m. on Sunday with 10 players returning to the unofficial final table. James Morgan was eliminated by O’Donnell about halfway through the first level of the day to give the final nine players a seat at the official final table.

Jameson Painter busted at the start of the next level. He got all in with top two pair and a flush draw against Hai Chu’s pocket aces and the nut flush draw. The flush came in on the turn, leaving Painter drawing to four outs, which he missed.

The Illinois native took home $9,766 for his efforts and left the table eight-handed. Harry Pozefsky fell in eighth just a few hands later.

Pozefsky got all in with top pair and an open-ended straight draw against Ireland’s top two pair. The turn and river were bricks, which gave the pot to Ireland and eliminated Pozefsky.

The final seven players lasted to the end of the level and took their first break of the day. When they returned, it wasn’t long before Jonathan Thomas hit the rail.

Thomas was short and committed most of his chips into the middle preflop. He then got the last of his stack on a six-high flop with four overs and some backdoor straight draws. Ireland, however, flopped the nut straight and had Thomas drawing thin.

Thomas was dead on the turn and out in seventh place. Six-handed play lasted for another 90 minutes and the final six players all made it to the second break of the day. Ireland scored a massive double through Hai Chu just before it and took the chip lead just before everybody left the tournament area for 15 minutes.

Chips started flying when they returned to blinds of 15,000/30,000. Andrew Holland got all in preflop against Chu.

Holland was on the right end of things until Chu turned trip fives. Holland couldn’t improve to a full house on the river with either a 10 or an ace. He was out in sixth-place for $22,816.

Chu didn’t hold on to those chips for long and was the next player out. All his chips went to Ireland after he paid off multiple streets to Ireland when Ireland had the nut full house. He was short and busted a couple hands later. He was all in preflop and got action from Ireland and Joon Park.

Park bet every street and Ireland called down as the board ran out. Park showed his hand and Ireland. Ireland won the pot with trip sevens and Chu mucked his hand, heading to the cage in fifth place.

Park busted Michal Maryska a couple hands later. Park flopped the nut straight against Maryska’s aces. Maryska needed runners to make a full house and stay alive, but he was. Park won the pot, eliminated Maryska and started three-handed play against Ireland and O’Donnell.

Park was the next victim of Ireland, however. He was out in third just 15 minutes after Maryska. Park committed the last of his chips on a queen-high flop.

Ireland turned a straight, which left Park drawing dead to the river. Ireland score yet another knockout. In less than an hour, there were four eliminations, and Ireland started heads-up play against O’Donnell with a 2-to-1 chip lead.

Over the first level of heads-up play, Ireland extended his chip lead and O’Donnell was under 20 big blinds. O’Donnell flopped a set and got all in against Ireland’s straight draw. O’Donnell turned quads and scored a timely double. They finished the level nearly even in chips.

It was a back-and-forth battle that saw the lead change several times. Before Ireland pulled away near the end of what ended up being a 4.5-hour battle.

“That was very, very difficult,” said Ireland about his heads-up match with O’Donnell. “That was probably one of the more difficult poker sessions I had. He was excellent. He was very, very good. I would argue that he’s a better PLO player than I am. Probably easily.

“But the great thing about PLO is that anything can happen. I think I played the best PLO I ever played. At the end, it was just sort of a culmination of just grinding it out.”

Ireland opened up a 5-to-1 chip lead before finishing off the Tampa pro. O’Donnell got a third of his stack in preflop and put the rest in on the flop.

Ireland called and was in good shape against O’Donnell’s hand. The turn was the ten of clubs and the river was the eight of hearts. O’Donnell was gone in in second, just shy of his second bracelet, which secured Ireland’s first.

Final table results
1st: Anderson Ireland - $141,161
2nd: Matt O'Donnell - $87,198
3rd: Joon Park - $61,013
4th: Michal Maryska - $43,313
5th: Hai Chu - $31,203
6th: Andrew Holland - $22,816
7th: Jonathan Thomas - $16,937
8th: Harry Pozefsky - $12,767
9th: Jameson Painter - $9,776

(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)

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