Ali Eslami recorded his first World Series of Poker tournament cash in the 2004 main event, placing 49th for $45,000. More than 18 years later, Eslami has finally captured his first gold bracelet. The Los Angeles resident outlasted a field of 471 entries in the 2022 WSOP $1,500 seven card stud eight-or-better event to secure the hardware and the top prize of $135,260.
This was the third-largest score of Eslami’s tournament career, behind his win in the 2011 WSOP Western Regional Championship Tour for $282,242 and his third-place showing in the 2012 WSOP $10,000 pot-limit hold’em event for $199,623. With this latest victory, he now has more than $1.6 million in recorded earnings.
Eslami hasn’t been playing much poker in recent years, but quickly got back to his winning ways. He dedicated his victory to the late Chad Brown, who passed away in 2014.
“Many poker players, knew him. He was a legend and he was one of his favorite games, too. We were very good friends, and we talked a lot about the game too. So this one goes out to Chad,” Eslami told WSOP reporters.
In addition to the title and the money, Eslami was also awarded 720 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion, enough to move him within reach of the top 400 in the 2022 POY race sponsored by Global Poker.
A number of notable players made deep runs in this event, including five-time bracelet winner Michael Mizrachi (71st – $2,421), four-time bracelet winner Max Pescatori (61st – $2,421), three-time bracelet winner Barry Greenstein (45th – $3,026 ), two-time bracelet winner Phillip Hui (41st – $3,026), and bracelet winner Gary Benson (16th – $4,463).
The third and final day of this event began with just 15 players remaining and Chris Papastratis in the chip lead. It took roughly 90 minutes to narrow the field to the official final table of eight, with John Bunch finishing ninth for $9,975. Bracelet winner Kenny Hsiung sent Bunch to the rail and took the lead into the final table.
Four-time bracelet winner Jeff Madsen soon overtook the top spot, though. Madsen then extended his advantage by making two pair and a winning low to send David Arganian home in eighth place ($12,801).
Seven-time WSOP Circuit ring winner John Holley’s run in this event came to an end in seventh place. He got all-in on fifth street and had four to a 6-5 low by sixth street, but was ultimately chopped up by the 8-7 low of Eslami and the two pair of Thomas Taylor. Holley earned $16,737, bringing his career tournament earnings total to just shy of $1.9 million.
Hsiung lost a few key pots after arriving at the final table, and soon found himself near the bottom of the leaderboard. In his final hand, Hsiung got all-in on fifth street with trip aces and three diamonds. He was up against a pair of eighths and an open-ended straight draw for Eslami. Hsiung hit running diamonds to make an ace-high flush but was beaten by a running full boat for Eslami, who made fives full of eights. Hsiung earned $22,287 as the sixth-place finisher. This was his sixth cash of the series, with three previous finishes of 11th or higher.
Thomas Taylor was the next to fall. Taylor called all-in on fifth street with a pair of sixes and four to an 8-6 low draw. He was up against four to a wheel for Papastratis, who promptly hit a five to make the wheel. It was good for both the high and the low by the end, scooping Taylor to eliminate him in fifth place ($30,215). This was his sixth cash of the series, with his top score so far being the $44,112 he earned as the third-place finisher in the $1,500 stud event earlier in the series, in which Hsiung placed fifth.
Like several before him at this final table, short stack Scott Lake got the last of his chips in on fifth street. Lake had three spades with a couple of low cards among his board, but his hole cards were never shown. After seventh street was dealt, Madsen showed a 6-5-4-2-A for the low and Papastratis revealed trip jacks for the high, prompting Lake to muck and head to collect his $41,693.
The chip lead changes hands several times during three-handed action, with all remaining contenders getting some time at the top of the leaderboard. Eventually, Madsen fell into the danger zone. In his final hand he got all-in on fifth street and was called by both of his opponents, who checked it down from there. Papastratis showed two pair and Eslami tabled a winning low. Madsen had a pair of aces, but was unable to improve any further and was eliminated in third place ($58,537). His lifetime tournament earnings now sits at just shy of $6 million.
With that, Eslami took 7,050,000 into heads-up play with Papastratis, who held 4,725,000. The gap only widened from there. By the time the final hand was dealt, Eslami’s lead had grown to more than 5:1. Papastratis eventually got the last of his chips in on sixth street. The final hands were as follows:
Eslami made the wheel to scoop the pot and the title. Papastratis’ aces and kings were second best. He earned $83,598 for his runner-up finish, the largest payday on his tournament resume.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:
|7||John Holley III||$16,737||180|
Winner photo credit: WSOP / Seth Haussler.
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