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The 2021 World Series of Poker crowned a new gold bracelet winner at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on Thursday as one of poker's biggest names finally joined the elusive winner's club. Out of a field of 57 entries in Event #11: $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em Championship, American poker pro Jason Koon came out on top of hard-fought duel with Hungary's Gabor Szabo to get the monkey off his back.
"I am another level of tired, honestly. The wife and everybody have been doing so much to help with the baby. We were up at 8:30 a.m. today taking him to a doctor’s appointment," said Koon, who welcomed his son, Calum, into the world just two weeks ago. "Then I came here and played a couple of studs. Heads-up is so intense, but yeah, we got it."
Koon, who was at his third final table of the series after finishing ninth in the $25,000 NLH High Roller and sixth in an online event the same day, admitted to a small bit of relief after finally capturing WSOP gold.
"It’s one of those things when you’re on an airplane and a person is like, ‘Do you have a bracelet?’ I’m just like, ‘Nope.’ At least I can finally say yes to that," he explained. "I love coming here. I think I’ll play poker forever, and when it’s all said and done I think it’s inevitable I’ll have several of them."
Event #11: $25,000 Heads-Up Championship Results
|Place||Winner||Country||Prize (in USD)|
|1||Jason Koon||United States||$243,981|
|4||Daniel Zack||United States||$89,787|
|6||Bin Weng||United States||$36,280|
|7||Benjamin Reason||United States||$36,280|
|8||Jake Daniels||United States||$36,280|
The top eight finishers out of the 32-player bracket earned a portion of the $721,625 in prize money while all those who won their match in the round of 64 also had their buy-ins refunded.
Eventual winner Koon was among them and came out on top of six heads-up matches to claim a top prize of $243,981. For Szabo, the runner-up finish came a consolation prize of $150,790 while the semi-finalists Henri Puustinen and Daniel Zack received $89,787 for their efforts.
"My expectations were low," said Koon. "The fatigue set in, but at no point was I feeling that fear of it might be another time I take second place like I have felt in the past for sure."
Prior to his final duel with Szabo, Koon said "I don't vlog, I don't stream, I just play the game," and that's exactly what he did throughout the three-day tournament. The freshly minted GGPoker global ambassador defeated Chris Brewer, Nicolai Morris, andJohannes Becker to reach the money stages. In the round of eight, he only needed 13 minutes to eliminate Jake Daniels and then came out on top versus Finnish heads-up specialist Henri 'buttonclickr' Puustinen en route to the final heads-up match.
|Road to the Final||Jason Koon||Gabor Szabo|
|Round of 64||Chris Brewer||Bye|
|Round of 32||Nicolai Morris||Johan Guilbert|
|Round of 16||Johannes Becker||David Peters|
|Round of 8||Jake Daniels||Mikita Badziakouski|
|Round of 4||Henri Puustinen||Dan Zack|
After getting past Brewer and Morris in the opening two rounds, Koon found himself on the ropes against German mixed game specialist and former heads-up player Becker. He needed multiple double-ups to remain in contention before closing out the duel with a superior ace. The next obstacle was Daniels and the duo built pots very early on, which then culminated in a successful flip with queens for Koon against the ace-king suited of Daniels.
In the semi-final, 21-year-old Puustinen put up a fierce fight and Koon once more needed some fortune on his side to remain in contention. He got it in with a double gutshot and flush draw versus two pair to then spike another diamond on the river. Puustinen doubled once but ultimately hero-called at the wrong time to bow out in the semi-finals.
The duel on the other side of the table between Szabo and Zack ended just moments prior. After a careful start, Szabo steamrolled to victory and won numerous big pots to decimate the stack of the only former gold bracelet winner in contention. The Hungarian turned broadway to leave Zack drawing dead and set up the duel with Koon for poker's most sought-after prize.
Koon's final duel was a roller coaster ride in which the lead changed several times. Fortune was on his side when he won a flip with pocket fives versus ace-queen suited and he then also came out on top with ace-queen against the ace-jack of Szabo for the vast majority of the chips in play. It was over soon after to finally get the monkey off his back. From now on, Koon's name will no longer be mentioned among the "best players without a WSOP bracelet."
As for what's next for Koon, his immediate plans were to get some rest and spend time with his family. Of course, getting back to the felt was already on his mind.
"I’ll play the $50Ks, the $100K and the $250K. I might play the Main Event, but that’s even pretty unlikely," he said when asked about his WSOP plans. "I’m going to hang out with the baby, and I think there’s a guy coming into town this weekend that wants to play between a $100K-$250K at ARIA, so I will oblige."
Congratulations to Jason Koon, winner of the 2021 WSOP Event #11: $25,000 Heads-Up Championship.
Another button push by Jason Koon was this time called and Gabor Szabo ended up at risk for the second time during this heads-up duel.
As the flop fell , Koon took the lead and said "that's a good start" while his rail was gearing up for the festivities. Szabo picked up a gutshot on the turn but bricked the on the river to see his run end up in 2nd place for $150,790.
Koon erased his name from the list of "best players without a bracelet" and scored his maiden gold bracelet along with the top prize of $243,981 only days after he was announced as the newest GGPoker global ambassador.
A recap of today's action is to follow.
Jason Koon pushed with the and Gabor Szabo called all-in out of the big blind with the .
Both rails gathered and Szabo made trips on the board to survive. He then gave up the button twice and folded to a shove but also earned the big blind once with a successful shove.
Gabor Szabo min-raised to 320,000 and Jason Koon then jammed for Szabo to call instantly.
The flop saw both rails shout for their favourite card as Koon asked for the queen of hearts, while Szabo's Hungarian rail asked for a spade. Nothing changed on the turn and the river only improved Koon. The stacks were counted and Koon doubled for 4,598,000 to leave his opponent with just over two big blinds.
Jason Koon limped in and Gabor Szabo checked his option to the flop. Szabo check-called for 175,000 and then led the turn for 460,000. Koon folded and Szabo gained a narrow lead as the stacks are becoming more shallow.
- Slepe stave:
In the last hand of the level, Jason Koon limped and Gabor Szabo raised to 400,000 for Koon to call. On a flop of , Szabo checked and then called a bet worth 250,000 by Koon.
The on the turn was checked and Szabo then bet the river for 900,000.
Koon immediately sighed and soon after said "I am never supposed to fold" more to himself than his opponent. The reluctant tank-call followed and Szabo rolled over the for two pair.
Koon revealed one of his cards which happened to be the as the gap between the two players was reduced to just a handful of big blinds.
Gabor Szabo limped in and Jason Koon checked his option to see the flop for free. He opted to check and called a bet worth 120,000 by Szabo. The same action repeated on the turn for 360,000 and Koon then also checked the on the river.
This time, Szabo checked behind and Koon turned over for a pair of sevens as the winning hand.