Friedman denies Hellmuth 17th WSOP bracelet

21 October 2021

Adam Friedman

Adam Friedman (photo by WSOP)

Phil Hellmuth sought to extend his bracelet record to 17 on Wednesday in 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Event #36: $10,000 Dealer's Choice Championship, but he was denied during heads-up play by Adam Friedman, who pulled off an incredible comeback along with one of the most impressive feats in WSOP history.

Friedman took home $248,350 for the accomplishment, his fourth gold WSOP bracelet and the third consecutive time he's won this very same tournament. No player in history had ever gone back-to-back-to-back in the same WSOP event. This accomplishment is right up there with Michael Mizrachi winning the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, arguably the most prestigious non-Main Event tournament in poker, three times in his career.

"It's really amazing. I didn't expect this," Friedman said after the win. "I just wanted to have a shot to be able to do something that no one else has done in the 53-year history of the World Series and to do it in this event is pretty fantastic. Once people play the dealer's choice, they always keep coming back."

He continued: "This $10k is so much different from every other $10k event because if you look at every other tournament, there's been a less percentage drop off compared to every other event. People that play in this tournament – they want to play in it again and again because it's so addicting. There are so many games you don't get to play in other events … so many thought processes and strategies. It's such a unique tournament."

The 2021 version of the $10k Dealer's Choice had 93 entrants, 14 of whom cashed. Friedman beat out a field of 122 entries in 2019 and 111 runners in 2018.

Friedman now has four gold bracelets and over $2 million in WSOP cashes. This one certainly didn't come easy as he had to grind until the wee hours of the morning against a tough heads-up foe to capture the victory. Hellmuth, who won Event #31: $1,500 No-Liit 2-7 Lowball Draw on Sunday, had better than a 2-1 chip advantage at one point during heads-up play.

Cheered on by a large crowd of supporters there hoping to witness poker history, Hellmuth was unable to seal the deal this time. That doesn't take away from the fact that he's been the most outstanding performer during the first half of the 2021 WSOP. The 1989 World Champion now has five final table appearances this month, including one title, and has leapfrogged Anthony Zinno atop the WSOP Player of the Year standings.

The final day played down at an anticipated pace, with the first elimination not occurring until the second level of play when Joao Vieira was scooped in a Badacey hand and finished in 10th place ($20,726). Next, the legendary Negreanu exited in ninth place ($25,741) after his last few chips were won by Matt Glantz in a game of limit hold 'em. Not long after, Mike Gorodinsky moved the last of his chips in the middle against Schwartz in a hand of pot-limit Omaha eight or better and was eliminated in eighth place ($25,741).

At this time the tournament combined to one "unofficial" final table of seven and play would continue until they were down to one.

Next to exit the tournament area was Glantz, who got the last of his chips in the middle in a three-way pot of Badacey, and he was out in seventh place ($32,746). Andrew "AJ" Kelsall played his final hand in Razz against Matusow and was eliminated in sixth place ($42,646). Meanwhile, Matusow played his final hand in Badugi against Hellmuth, his long-time pal, and the former was out in fifth place ($58,826). The last female standing, Carol Fuchs, was eliminated in fourth place ($77,437) via a hand of 2-7 pot-limit Triple Draw versus Friedman.

Hellmuth then busted Schwartz in third place for $107,861, the same man he defeated heads up to win bracelet No. 16. That set up quite the intriguing heads-up match. Hellmuth had a sizeable lead against Friedman, but he couldn't hold onto that chip advantage. After much back-and-forth jockeying, Friedman ultimately prevailed to defend his 2018 title for the second WSOP in a row!

"Obviously I ran good in a lot of spots," Friedman said. "I pride myself on not having any games that I play terribly at. I think I'm a pretty well-rounded player. I keep working. I think about the game a lot and all I try to do is put myself in favorable positions. You have to be willing to play any of the 20 games at all times. You can't be fearful of one of them."

As for defeating the most-decorated player in WSOP history, Friedman offered the following on Hellmuth: "I knew what games I wanted to play against Phil if I ever got heads up with him. The truth is I simply out-carded him. I made a lot of hands and picked off some bluffs at the right spot."

Final Table Results
1 Adam Friedman United States $248,350
2 Phil Hellmuth United States $153,493
3 Jake Schwartz United States $107,861
4 Carol Fuchs United States $77,437
5 Mike Matusow United States $56,826
6 Andrew Kelsall United States $42,646
7 Matt Glantz United States $32,746
8 Mike Gorodinsky United States $25,741

(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)

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