Some of the top Short Deck players on the planet logged on to GGPoker and registered for Event #43 of the 2020 World Series of Poker ($10,000 Short Deck No Limit Hold’em Championship) but it was Lev ‘LevMeAlone’ Gottlieb, on his third entry, who topped the elite 130-entry field to take home the $276,393.39 first-place prize the gold bracelet.
The tournament was the first five-figure buy-in of the series which attracted some of the biggest names in the game. Isaac Haxton, Sean Winter, Mike Leah, Sam Greenwood, Jason Koon and Joao Viera could all be seen in the field. The talent extended to the final table where Amichai Barer, Michael Chi Zhang, Dan Shak, and Sergi Reixach all stood between Gottlieb and the bracelet.
But it was Belarusian Short Deck savant Mikita Badziakouski that proved to be the biggest hurdle for Gottlieb. Badziakouski, who has over $2.5 million in live Short Deck earnings on his resume, seemed in control for most of the final table (despite having an issue with his timebank). But Gottlieb overcame a huge initial chip deficit in a long, swingy heads-up battle to deny Badziakouski the bracelet.
Amichai Barer was the first to exit the final table when he moved all-in with from early position with 25 antes holding and was looked up by Hong Kong’s Yin nam bjorn Li and his . The [7s] flop put Li in the lead, and narrowed Barer’s possible outs to a gutshot straight or running cards. The hit the turn and when the completed the board, Barer was out in ninth place for $30,986.55.
A few hands later, Gottlieb put in a raise to 270,000 from under the gun with and Carl Schrader quickly three-bet shipped his remaining 1,193,436 with from the button. Gottlieb made the call, putting Schrader’s tournament life on the line. The flop gave Schrader top pair but was a monster board for Gottlieb who turned the straight flush when the peeled off on the turn. The meaningless river sent Schrader to the rail in eighth place for $40,734.96.
Li was the next to exit when he moved all-in for 1,756.631 holding and was called by Badziakouski with . The flop came keeping Badziakouski ahead in the hand with two pair. The turn provided Li a couple of extra outs but the river was not one of them. Li wrapped up in seventh place for $53,550.25.
Roughly forty-five minutes later, former worldwide #2-ranked online grinder Michael Chi Zhang exited the tournament. In a hand that went four ways to the [10s] flop, it checked over Zhang on the button who put in a bet of 200,00 with his , giving him a flopped straight. Gottlieb check-raised Zhang to 1,440,000 having flopped a higher straight with his . Zhang shipped his remaining 2,466,458 stack and Gottlieb made the call. The turn was the [ and the river was the eliminating Zhang in sixth place for $70,397.
Dan Shak, playing out of Poland, was sitting on a short stack when he shipped his final ten antes with . From the button, Nobuaki Sasaki made the call holding . The flop came pairing Sasaki’s nine. The turn improved him to a higher two pair but Shak still had outs to his king. The river showed Shak the door and he finished the tournament in fifth place, good for $92,545.
Badziakouski limped in with the only to be shoved on by Sasaki who held . Badziakouski ended up making the call and the pair saw the flop, giving both players two pair but putting Sasaki in the lead. The turn didn’t change anything but the spiked for Badziakouski on the river improving him to a full house and shipping him the pot. Sasaki walked away in fourth place with a six-figure payday of $121,649.13, earning the 18 people who invested in him on the GGPoker staking platform a nice return on their investment.
During three-handed play, Sergi Reixach suffered a pair of bad beats to Gottlieb, the second of which sent him to the rail. After Gottlieb limped for 60,000 with his , Reixach raised to 360,00 holding . Gottlieb three-bet shoved and Reixach called off for less. The flop kept Reixach in the lead. But the turn put Reixach looking for a king to save his tournament life. The completed the board and the Spanish superstar wrapped up in third place earning $159,933.38.
It was an intense heads-up match from the start. Badziakouski started a dominating four-to-one chip lead, which Gottlieb managed to double through to take the lead. Badziakouski battled back to regain the chip lead but it slipped away once again. The whole time Badziakouski was having technical difficulties seeing his own ‘chess clock’ timebank, playing not knowing exactly how much time he had to make decisions.
When the chips were evened out and both players had fewer than six seconds on their timebank. GGPoker support paused the table for roughly fifteen minutes to work on a solution. The pair then rejoined a newly created table with the standard timebank in place and the tournament continued.
When the heads-up battle resumed it was nearly another two hours before the pair played their final hand. After a raise, a three-bet and a call, the duo got all the chips in the middle with Gottlieb holding while Badziakouski needed some help with his . The flop gave Badziakouski the lead. The tides then turned when the peeled off on the turn. The pair sweat the river, with Badziakouski looking for a king or queen to stay alive, but it was the which closed the door on Badziakouski’s bracelet bid. Badziakouski was forced to settle for 210,248.67 as the runner-up.
Lev Gottlieb takes home the $276,393.39 first-place prize and becomes just the second player in WSOP history to win a Short Deck gold bracelet.
Final Table Payouts
- Lev Gottlieb – $276,393.39
- Mikita Badziakouski – $210,248.67
- Sergi Reixach – $159,933.38
- Nobauaki Sasaki – $121,659.13
- Daniel Shak – $92,544.53
- Chi Zhang – $70,397.34
- Yin nam bjorn Li – $53,550.25
- Carl Schrader – $40,734.96
- Amichai Barer – $30,986.55