For as long as Kyle Julius has been around the poker scene, he's never won a live tournament. He joked afterwards that he liked finishing in second better because he can avoid all of the media hounding, but in all seriousness Julius was extremely happy to score his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet after winning Event #4: $1,000 Top-Up Turbo No-Limit Hold'em.
"Can we get a few Coronas?" Julius yelled out after the win.
Julius was joined in the winner's circle by friends Jason Mercier, Natasha Barbour, Nick Grippo, and Garry Gates, plus Jason Koon came running over to give him a big hug before heading back to his own event. And while it's nice to have those you care about there with you to celebrate such a breakthrough victory, Julius had his two biggest reasons to celebrate not present, but on his mind and in his heart.
Julius is engaged and he and his fiancé are expecting a baby girl at the end of July.
"We've been arguing about names, and she was like, 'All right, how about this? If you go out and win a bracelet, then you can name the kid,'" he said. "It's still going to be mutual, and we're still going to make the decision together, but I think I have a little bit more say now. It's pretty cool."
With the win, Julius earned $142,972 and pushed his career live tournament earnings over $3 million. He topped a field of 667 entries.
"It feels great because this is actually my first ever live win, and for it to be a bracelet is pretty cool Obviously this is going to be one of the smaller events of the summer, but to get off started with the second tournament in, to win, it feels pretty unbelievable and better when it sinks in."
The Top-Up Turbo event was a new format to the WSOP, allowing players to "top up" their starting stack a few different ways. The buy-in to the event was $1,000 and players began with 5,000 in chips, but players could add an additional 5,000 in chips by purchasing them at the cage at the time of registration for an additional $1,000. Players could also play a $55 sit-n-go live at the Rio or online at WSOP.com where the top three finishers would earn a payout of $250, $150, or $100 in finishing order, plus all three would get the top-up chips of 5,000.
On Saturday night before the event, players were in the Pavilion room at the Rio playing these sit-n-gos as "flipaments" and that's where Julius won his extra 5,000 chips.
"Any turbo I like, so anything that's going to get over within one or two days is awesome," Julius said. "I thought it was a cool idea to have the $55 things online, and what not, but I feel like people didn't know how to do it. People didn't know how to get online. I feel like maybe it also scared some players in a way because they looked at the name of the tournament and got confused of what it was. I thought maybe the turnout could be bigger if it was just a 1K turbo, but overall I think it's a pretty cool thing to be able to win an extra stack online for $55. If it's more organized and people know about it ahead of time more, I think it'll get a better turnout."
As for the turnout of 667 entries, it was broken down as 252 players did nothing other than buy in for $1,000, 235 "topped up" online, 99 "topped up" live, and then 81 paid the additional $1,000 at the cage for more chips.
Julius used those additional 5,000 chips to help him run up a stack early, but towards the end of Day 1 he got short, falling under 200,000 in chips with the blinds at 15,000/30,000.
"I've been playing so long, and I've seen so many people go from no chips to winning tournaments," he said looking back. "It's just a matter of keeping things in perspective, that when you get short or go from big to being short — you know everybody has that mindset where you want to chase and get back to where you were, but that's just not where your head should be. I just picked the right spots, made every decision to the best of my ability, and lived with the results. I came back from real short — at 15K/30K, I had 170,000 last night — and ended up bagging 530K with all in and everybody folding and no showdowns. It worked out, and I can't argue with the results."
The result? It now lists Julius as the winner of the 2016 WSOP's Event #4: $1,000 Top-Up Turbo No-Limit Hold'em for his first gold bracelet.