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Poker pro beats tough lineup to secure WSOP win

27 June 2016

Rafael Lebron

Rafael Lebron (photo by WSOP)

Meet the latest WSOP gold bracelet champion
Name: Rafael Lebron
Birthplace: Tacoma, WA
Age: 33
Current Residence: Puyallup, WA
Marital Status: Single
Children: 3
Profession: Poker Player
Number of WSOP Cashes: 4
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 2
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 2nd (2016)
Total WSOP Earnings: $389,790

Post-victory interview question: "Was there any player you didn't want to see at the final table?"
Rafael Lebron's answer: "Yeah – all of them."

Rafael Lebron has enjoyed the poker week of a lifetime.

Consider this: He came in second in a Six-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha tournament just four days ago. Then, he entered another Six-Handed tourney and this time he finished in first place. His winnings just for this week – about $380,000. Not a bad payout for a player that until now hadn't posted any high finishes of note.

Lebron, a poker pro from Puyallup, WA won the $3,000 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold'em tournament, which was played over three days and nights and just concluded on the ESPN main stage at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Lebron collected $169,337 in prize money, making this the biggest win of his career.

Lebron won his victory by coming out on top at a final table which included a tough lineup, no one more formidable perhaps than three-time WSOP title holder and Limit Hold’em specialist Matt Matros. Once Matros finished fifth, Lebron's odds improved considerably.

Oh, and there was one other player at the final table poker fans might have heard of. His name was Joe McKeehen. He's the current world poker champion, the winner of the 2015 WSOP Main Event, which paid out more than $7.6 million. These weren't lightweights Lebron was facing.

"I wasn't the best player at the final table at all," Lebron confessed afterward. "I might have been the worst. But, I got lucky. This was my day."

Lebron started the final day lowest on chips. But he hammered away and pushed every advantage and even managed to catch a few cards at the right moments. The final moment of triumph came when Lebron scooped the final pot of the tournament against Greek player Georgios Zisimopoulos who finished as the runner up. The second place consolation prize amounted to $104,646.

As for the winner, he took the dream of winning in stride. "I only play about once a year," Lebron said. "Sure I'll come back again next year, as long as I haven't spent all the money."

This tourney attracted 245 entrants which created a prize pool totaling $668,850. The top 37 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: Georgios Zisimpoulos, from Athens, Greece finished as the runner up. He collected $104,646. This was his deepest run, highest payout, and fifth time to cash at the series.

Third Place: Brad Libson, from Annapolis, MD came in third. He now has 26 cashes at the WSOP and more than $300,000 in winnings after pocketing $68,896 for this nice run. This was Libson's fourth time to appear at a series final table.

Fourth Place: Joe McKeehen posted yet another impressive showing at the WSOP by coming in fourth in this tournament. His payout amounted to $46,489. McKeehen, the 2015 WSOP Main Event Champion, posted his best finish at the series aside from that other big tournament he won last year. McKeehen now has more than $8.5 million in WSOP earnings.

Fifth Place: Matt Matros, from Brooklyn, NY is undoubtedly one of the world's top Limit Hold'em tournament specialists. He's won three WSOP titles in Hold'em, but failed to go the distance in what could have been gold bracelet number four. Matros now has 33 career cashes and more than $1.5 in career earnings at the series – not bad for a part-time poker player who spends much of his time as a writer. Matros collected $32,172.

Sixth Place: Alex Queen, from Bethlehem, PA cashed in sixth place for the second time at this series, after coming in the same position in a Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em event. He's now gone to the payout window 23 times at the WSOP. This time, he collected $22,848.

This was the 38th official event on this year's schedule. This leaves 31 gold bracelet events still to be played at the 2016 WSOP.

Other notable in-the money finishers:
Rep Porter, who won his third gold bracelet earlier at this year's WSOP, finished in ninth place. He now has more than $2.2 million in WSOP career earnings.

Chris Klodnicki, who came in second in the 2013 WSOP Main Event Championship, cashed in 12th place. He now has $5.3 million in earnings in 34 in-the-money finishes.

Ian Johns, who has already won two gold bracelets at this year's WSOP, made another deep run, coming in 14th.

Jesse Martin, a gold bracelet winner, cashed for the 47th time at the series, coming in 15th place.

Jason Somerville, a gold bracelet winner with $1.7 million in career earnings at the WSOP, cashed for the 25th time, coming in 17th.

Michael Moore, a gold bracelet winner, finished in 20th place.

Ylon Schwartz, a gold bracelet winner, came in 23rd.

Kenny "The Pig" Hsiung, a gold bracelet winner, took 27th place.

Jeffrey Lisandro, a six-time gold bracelet winner, took 28th place. This marked his 61st in-the-money finish at the WSOP – which comes to more than $3.6 million in earnings.

Eric Froehlich, a two-time gold bracelet winner, came in 33rd.

Jonathan Duhamel, the 2010 world poker champion, came in 34th. This was his 33rd time to cash. He's now raked in more than $14.6 million at the WSOP.

Fun facts:
The ages of participants ranged from 21 to 81. The eldest player in the field was Howard "Tahoe" Andrew.

The breakdown of player nationalities for this event was 851 Americans and 245 players from elsewhere. The top five nations represented was the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Russia, and Germany.

The breakdown of participants by gender was 96.9 percent male and 3.1 percent female.

(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)

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