The poker community was waiting with bated breath for the opening week of the 2021 World Series of Poker, and Event #4: $500 The Reunion No-Limit Hold’em did not disappoint.
It drew a massive field of 12,973 to create a prizepool of $5,448,660. And after three days of play, including an epic 17-hour Day 2, it all ended after a lightning quick final day that lasted barely over an hour and saw Long Ma crowned champion.
He took home his first WSOP Bracelet and a whopping grand prize of $513,604, an incredible 1,000% return from his buy-in amount.
The Reunion - Final Table Payouts
|1||Long Ma||United States||$513,604|
|2||Giuliano Lentini||United States||$317,352|
|3||Max Tavepholjalern||United States||$241,766|
|4||Alex Vazquez||United States||$185,281|
|5||Michael Eddy||United States||$142,847|
|6||Anthony Cass||United States||$110,794|
|7||Jugal Daterao||United States||$86,462|
|8||Derrick Stoebe||United States||$67,886|
|9||Adrian Buckley||United States||$53,625|
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Ma, who currently calls Dallas, TX home at 35 years old, has been playing poker for about twelve years.
“When I first started, I lost a lot of money on gambling. But then I won a tournament with 400 people and I started doing a bit better. But recently not too good.” He then mentioned that he had not cashed for two months before this huge breakthrough, which certainly breaks Ma out of his funk.
“I only play tournaments," added Ma. "It is really hard to be a professional with only tournaments.”
Ma’s two largest poker scores previous to this gargantuan win came in Daily Deepstack events during the 2018 WSOP in which he won over $60,000 in the span of three days.
When asked whether this win would mean seeing more of him in more tournaments for the rest of the WSOP he replied “Possibly. I still need to work!” referencing his main job as an operation and program manager for an electronic company.
Path to Bracelet
But the electronic company manager would take the poker world by storm, entering the final day with a massive chip lead. He would remain in control throughout, taking a hammer to his opponents and never giving any inclination that he was going to squander his chip lead.
Afterwards, he discussed his mindset during the final day. “With a big stack I needed to know from the first few hands whether they would be aggressive with me or slow down and from that I pretty much knew the table and could control my stack and play.”
One of the more prominent hands came after three-betting eventual runner-up Giuliano Lentini on the river after Lentini had raised him. Lentini folded, and Ma showed the bluff. From that point on, Ma took an even firmer control of the table and cruised to the bracelet.
“Almost 13,000 players. Lots of good players, some lucky players and maybe me the luckiest one” he said with a smile.
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Final Day Action
The final day would start with only five players remaining. Michael Eddy starterd as a super short stack and busted within the first few hands of the day to finish in fifth place.
Alex Vazquez came in fourth after his stack went south quickly and never recovered, vanquished by Ma. Max Tavepholjalern positioned himself decently in the counts during the day but crashed out in third place, also a victim of Ma.
The second-place finisher was the aforementioned Lentini, who started the day well and upped his chip count by over 50% in the first part of the day. However, the key three-bet river hand against Ma would be his undoing, and he would never recover.
Entering heads-up play Ma had a 5:1 chip advantage and it would take exactly one hand of heads up for proceedings to end when Lentini jammed queen-jack from the small blind and could not chase down the ace-high of Ma.