The American poker pro defeated a 1,921-player field and beat Columbian Julian Velasquez in heads-up play to win a $202,274 top prize.
Wheeler had over $4.1 million in live earnings coming into this event according to The Hendon Mob. That included a second-place finish in 2009 in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold‘em event where he finished just short of the WSOP bracelet that has eluded him ever since.
“My first time I got heads-up for a bracelet was in 2009 and at the time I didn’t truly appreciate what it was at the time because it was my first series you know," he said. "It was so long ago, it takes so long to be back heads up for a bracelet. I played almost every event that was on the series. I have been working hard and it feels good to be validated and play well”
2021 WSOP Event #81 Final Table Results
|1||Jason Wheeler||United States||$202,274|
|4||Garry Gates||United States||$70,077|
|6||Shelok Wong||United States||$40,376|
|7||Ralph Massey||United States||$31,087|
|8||John O'Neal||United States||$24,165|
|9||Robert Hill||United States||$18,968|
A lot of familiar faces gave it a shot but most of them didn't make it. Five-time WSOP champion Shaun Deeb, Main Event champion Damian Salas, Women Hall of Famer Kathy Liebert, and WSOP bracelet winner Brett Apter all failed to make the money in this event. Plenty of others did make the money though as there were a total of 289 players that ended up winning a piece of the $1,352,384 prize pool.
Final Table Action
The final table was action-packed with large and loud rails from several players. The first final table casualty was Robert Hill, whose ace-jack was defeated by Velasquez's pocket kings.
Next to hit the rail was John O'Neal whose ace-king couldn't connect on the runout and was bested by Antoine Goutard's pocket jacks. Ralph Massey was then eliminated in seventh place despite flopping trip aces as Velasquez got his second KO of the final when his ace-queen turned a full house to send Massey to the rail.
Shelok Wong was next to go, his ace-seven was ahead on the flop but Velasquez, who was looking for his third elimination of the day, improved to a pair of kings on the turn and held on the river.
Goutard then moved all in with pocket tens after Diogo Veiga opened to 2.2 million. Veiga moved the call and had his opponent dominated with queens. After an ace-king-jack flop, Goutard needed to find one of the two remaining queens in the deck but the turn and river provided no help.
In Level 38, 2019 WSOP Main Event fourth-place finisher Garry Gates went all in for his remaining 11.9 million in chips and it folded to Velasquez who made the call to put Gates at risk for his tournament life. Gates had king-queen and Valasquez ace-eight. Gates never improved and was eliminated in fourth place.
Veiga then raised the button the 2.4 million and Jason Wheeler defended the big blind. The flop came king-jack-nine with two clubs and Wheeler check-raised all in after Veiga continued for 4.1 million. Veiga called off his stack of about 20 million and both hands were tabled. Viega had the ace-six of clubs and Wheeler had two pair with king-nine. The three of diamonds on the turn and the three of hearts on the river were no help for Viega though as he was eliminated in third place for $93,627.
The hand that changed all the momentum came in Level 39 when all the chips got in the middle between Wheeler and Velasquez putting the former at risk. Wheeler had pocket sixes and Velasquez had ace-four suited. The celebration came a little early for Velasquez's rail when the flop gave him a wheel. However, a four on the river gave Wheeler new life with a bigger straight.
Then in the final hand of the night, Wheeler limped on the button and Velasquez shoved his stack of 13 million into the middle. Wheeler snap-called, slamming his pocket aces face up, which were dominating the ace-deuce of Velasquez. The board ran out clean and Velasquez had to settle for second place.
Congratulations to Jason Wheeler for winning Event #81: $800 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack
Stay tuned to PokerNews for all the updates on all the tournaments in this last leg of the 52nd World Series of Poker at The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.