Canada’s Chanracy Khun upset the form book by scooping the prestigious WSOP $25k HeadsUp Championship, defeating Doug Polk heads-up to win his first gold bracelet and the $507,020 top prize.
Khun was one of 64 players to start out in the mano-a-mano event, round one seeing Phil Ivey falling on the sword of
John Smith, who boats three previous cashes in the event, including runner-up spots in 2016 and 2017.
Smith’s event was then ended in round 2 by Chris Brewer, who was joined by Sean Winter after victories over last year’s Main Event winner, Espen Jorstad, and Aleksejs Ponakovs.
Meanwhile, luminaries such as Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Shaun Deeb and Erik Seidel all fell on day one, as did Stephen Chidwick at the hands of Landon Tice.
Polk, a renowned master of the online highstakes HUNL world, was finding the live version remarkably straightforward, playing well and hitting cards when he needed them.
“Normally, I think when you think of a good player you think of an aggressive player,” he explained to PokerNews, adding: “But the thing about heads-up is if you become too aggressive it becomes bad. So it’s all about how you balance that aggression into your overall play style."
Victories over Reiji Kono and Roberto Perez booked him a ticket to play Chris Brewer in the semi-finals, stating of his day two run: “I think he [Kono] had his foot fully on the gas and I was able to make a couple of reasonable call downs versus him to do well. I’m usually not the guy you can run over in heads-up no-limit…
“[Perez] legitimately never had a hand. He made some nice calls. He tried a couple of bluffs, got a couple through here and there. I don’t think what we saw from him today is indication of how he plays as a whole.”
His semi-final against Brewer saw a remarkable bad beat for the younger man, on the verge of KOing Polk until the unthinkable appeared on the river...
The eagle-eyed will spot that Polk perhaps offered up his own “kiss of death” in the hunt for his 4th WSOP gold bracelet, facing off with Chanracy Khun for the title on day three.
Khun, who has a remarkable tally of seven Main Event cashes in the last 10 events, was taking his first deep run in the Heads-up Championship.
Wins over the likes of $25k High Roller winner Alexandre Veulleumier, Landon Tice, and then Sean Winter in the semi-finals, had given the Quebec city man a golden chance, but he was up against on e of the best in the world.
Polk took a lead after more than two hours of play, but Khun battled back, sniffing out a bluff and explaining afterwards: “I just went with my gut feeling. I thought he was bluffing that hand for sure.”
Polk eventually staked his final chips on a decent king, but Khun’s hand was more than a match...
Polk: K♥ 8♦
Khun: K♠ 10♠
Flop: A♣ 5♣ 2♦
“I feel really good. I'm relieved,” Khun told reporters afterwards, adding: “And it's tough to find any words, but it's a mix of emotions. But at the end of the day, I'm really, really glad it's over."
Khun admitted: “I was just luckier than him today ... today was my lucky day.”