Fear The Dragon! David "The Dragon" Pham was a two-time bracelet winner coming into yesterday's final table of a Donkament. He previously won two bracelets but had not stepped into the winner's circle in over a decade... since 2006. Well, the Dragon finally got fed after an 11-year layoff. Pham was one of two old-school pros who got to bask in the warm glow as a WSOP bracelet winner. Frank Kassela was the other pro who went deep.
The Dragon rallied from a massive deficit to defeat young gun Jordan Young heads-up for the win. The Dragon won the first donkament on this year's schedule when he won Event #12 $1,500 NL. The Dragon won his first WSOP back in 2001! Yeah, when most of today's 20-something pros were still wetting their beds. The Dragon added his second win in 2006 when he binked a Shootout.
Over in Event #13, Frank Kassela defeated Bernard Lee heads-up for the 2-7 Lowball bracelet. That win marked a third bracelet for the semi-pro and businessman.
Event #12 $1,500 NL - Final Results
Mark it three for The Dragon. David "The Dragon" Pham cashed in 47 events in his storied career. Along the way he's won nearly $10 million in tournaments. But he hasn't won any bling since 2006. His 11-year hiatus ended late last night. Just when you though the Dragon had run out of fire... he stormed back with a remarkable victory in the first donkament of the year. The Dragon got close last year, but fell short of the mark. He returned this summer with one goal... win another bracelet.
In a post-victory interview, Pham noted: "It's been a long time. Every year I've come close. Last year I made a final table, too. I had a stack, but I didn't make it. Of course, the money comes first, but the bracelet means something, too. It took me 11 years to make it."
Pham also credited a special, lucky hat that he wore from Binh "Jimmy" Nguyen. Jimmy referred to it as "his war hat." It worked! Where can I get one?
Jordan Young, an online-phenom and one of the rising stars in poker, was seeking his first-ever WSOP win. However, the young gun couldn't slay The Dragon. He earned $242K for a consolation prize. Aussie Melissa Gillett held a big stack at the final table, but she settled on a fourth-place finish.
Mike Sexton made a deep run, but he busted in 26th place. Other notables who cashed included... Phil Collins, Mike Leah, Dan Heimiller, Pascal Law, Jason Paul, Loni Harwood, Ben Keeline, Andy Frankenberger, Martin Staszko, Eric Baldwin, Matt Berkey, Vinny Pahuja, and Humberto Brenes.
2017 WSOP - Event #12 $1,500 NL
Prize Pool: $2,347,650
Final Table Results:
1. David Pham (USA) $391,960
2. Jordan Young (USA) $242,160
3. Roman Korenev (Russia) $174,559
4. Melissa Gillett (Australia) $127,180
5. Kevin Trettin (USA) $93,667
6. Nathan Pfluger (USA) $69,741
7. Billy Rogers (USA) $52,503
8. Huihan Wu (USA) $39,969
9. Aditya Agarwal (India) $30,773
Event #13 $1,500 NL 2-7 Lowball Draw - Final Results
A decade ago at the peak of the online poker boom, Frank Kassela was a familiar face on the circuit. The businessman/semi-pro from Tennessee was a savvy mixed-game player with excellent skills in Seven-card Stud and its variants.
Kassela won his first bracelet in 2010. In fact, the summer of 2010 was very kind to Kassela, who won two bracelets at the Rio Casino that year. Kassela won the 2010 $10K Stud Championship for a $447K score and his first-ever bracelet. And just two weeks later, he shipped the Razz bracelet for a $214K score. Kassela's sensational summer of '10 included six cashes and three final tables (plus third place in the $25K 6-Max and a deep run in the Main Event). That sensational run propelled Kassela to the top of the WSOP leaderboard. Kassela earned the 2010 WSOP Player of the Year honors.
Kassela got the seven-year itch... which got scratched. Kassela outlasted a difficult final table, that also included three-time bling winner Benny Glasser busted in seventh place. Stuart Rutter went out in sixth place. Matt Waxman took fourth. Kassela defeated Bernard Lee heads-up for the victory. Just like the Dragon, Kassela won his third-career bracelet.
Actor James Woods (Casino) finished in 30th place and cashed for $2,568. Other notables who cashed included... DonkeyBomber, Phil Helmuth, Jeff Lisandro, James Obst, Max Kruse, Sam Rubin, Craig Chait, Rep Porter, ODB Baker, Naoya Kihara, and JC Tran.