Eric Van Auken Tops WSOP Online Big 500 Encore for $94K

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Eric Van Auken earned almost $94,000 and his first WSOP bracelet after winning Event #26 of the 2021 WSOP Online (Borgata photo).

Players typically give a lot of thought when picking their screenname for an online poker site. Whether it was a matter of setting a goal or a tribute to Erik Seidel, Eric Van Auken manifested his performance in Event #26 ($500 NLHE The Big 500 Encore) on Sunday night. Van Auken navigated his way through a final table that included a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and the second place finisher from Saturday night to win his first WSOP bracelet and earn $93,627.

Naichang Chen opened to 200,000 from middle position with QcQh before Poker Hall of Famer Jack McClelland raised to 762,500 with AhKh. Chen responded by moving all in and McClelland called off the last of his chips. The Kc9c8c flop gave McClelland top pair, but left Chen with a flush draw. The 6d turn was a brick but the Jc river gave Chen a flush to send McClelland out in ninth place. This was McClelland’s first WSOP final table appearance since 2000 when he finished seventh in a $5,000 Seven Card Stud event.

Chen rode that chip stack and the momentum that came with into the next elimination. Chen opened to 320,000 from the cutoff with JdJh before Jacob Toole moved all in for 1,484,412 from Chen’s direct left with AsQs. The board ran out Kh8c7d5c9h allowing Chen to win his second cosnecutive race and eliminate Tool in eighth. That pot gave Chen more than 7.7 million in chips while the next biggest stack was only 3.3 million.

Chen then took a back seat as Dominick Sarle took the reigns as dream killer. From UTG, Sarle made it 400,000 and Justin Wong defended his big blind. The flop came Ts9d5d and Wong checked to Sarle who be 400,000. Wong responded by moving all in for 2,219,962 and Sarle called. Wong tabled QhTh for top pair, but Sarle showed KcKd for an overpair. Neither the Jh turn or 6c were able to save Wong and he was eliminated in seventh place.

Sarle only had to wait two more minutes to find his next victim. Once again, Sarle opened to 400,000 with AdQc and Dean Curreri shoved his last 816,488 from the small blind with KdJd and Sarle called. Sarle made top pair on the Ac8h6h flop. The Jd turn gave Curreri extra outs to the river but the Ts wasn’t one of them and he was eliminated in sixth.

Another couple of minutes later the table went from five-handed to four-handed but neither Chen or Sarle had a hand in the elimination. Tomasz Trelski moved all in for 1,100,379 with Ks8d and Van Auken called from the button with AsTc. Trelski hit top pair on the 8s7d5h flop but Van Auken paired his ace on the Ad turn. The 2s river was no help for Trelski and he was sent to the rial in fifth place.

Despite his early dominance, Chen was the next player to go. Sarle opened from the button to 480,000 before Chen moved all in from the small blind for 3,004,607. Van Auken came over the top for 5,529,214 and Sarle folded. Chen found only bad news after tabling AdJd when Van Auken showed a dominating AsQd. Neither player connected on the 7c7d2h3sKd runout and Van Auken outkicked Chen to eliminate him in fourth.

One night after finishing runner-up in Event #24, Corey Paggeot was still alive with three players remaining. On the button, Paggeot moved all in for 4,446,507 with As5d and Sarle raised all in with KdKs from the small blind forcing Van Auken to fold. The 7h6d4s flop gave Paggeot outs to a straight but neither the Jc turn or the Kh river were enough to save Paggeot from a bronze medal performance.

Sarle was ahead 2-1 in chips when heads up play began, but after 26 minutes of action between the two, Van Auken took a commanding lead. Sarle raised to 640,000 with AhTc and Van Auken made it 2,000,000 to go with 8c8h. Sarle responded by moving all in for 12,451,978 and Van Auken called all in for 9,828,030. The JhTh7s flop gave Sarle a pair of tens. The 5d turn helped neither player but the 9s river completed the board and filled Van Auken’s gutshot straight draw and gave him a 7.5-1 lead over Sarle. The tournament ended on the next hand in a pre-flop all in confrontation where Van Auken’s KcTs beat Sarles JsTc.

WSOP Online Event #26 Final Table Payouts

  1. Eric ‘8Bracelets’ Van Auken – $93,627
  2. Dominick ‘Flow_Cold’ Sarle – $57,856
  3. Corey ‘Corgasm’ Paggeot – $40,952
  4. Naichang ‘cncly1314’ Chen – $29,381
  5. Tomasz ‘ToMRoX’ Trelski – $21,331
  6. Dean ‘nikobellic99’ Curreri – $15,697
  7. Justin ‘pocketprofit’ Wong – $11,722
  8. Jacob ‘tooletime13’ Toole – $8,855
  9. Jack ‘Borgia92’ McClelland – $6,792