Amateur player Hung Le won Event #54: $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold'em, a special eight-handed event with a first-place prize of $888,888 at the 2016 World Series of Poker.
What the 53-year-old nail salon owner lacked in experience he made up for in vigor. He was playing his first WSOP tournament, and figuring he was at a skill disadvantage heads up against Michael Lech, he decided to take an ultra-aggressive approach and it paid off.
"It's the only way I can beat that guy, he's too good for me," the Vietnamese immigrant told assembled media after his win. "He's very aggressive and he knows how to play the flop good. If I follow the flop with him, I can't beat him."
Official Final Table Results
|1||Hung Le||Huber Heights, OH||$888,888|
|2||Michael Lech||Alma, AR||$401,888|
|3||Dimitar Danchev||Plovdiv, Bulgaria||$297,888|
|4||Rafael Yaraliyev||Brooklyn, NY||$222,888|
|5||Henry Grunzweig||Berkeley, CA||$167,888|
|6||Loni Harwood||Staten Island, NY||$126,888|
|7||Aurelien Guiglini||Paris, France||$96,888|
|8||Yang Zhang||Dalian, China||$74,888|
That's a rare admission from many players, as everyone would love to believe they are the class of a final table they reach.
Le figured from the start that wasn't the case, as formidable opposition like two-time bracelet winner Loni Harwood, 2013 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure champ Dimitar Danchev, and Lech, who has cashed for more than $800,000 online according to PocketFives.com, surrounded him at the final table.
That's a tough lineup for any player to conquer, let alone a guy with next to no tournament experience. Le is a recreational cash game player who said he regularly sits in at $1/$2 and $2/$5 tables. His friend suggested he try firing a tournament, but Le scoffed, saying he had no experience.
"You have to learn somewhere," Le's friend told him, proceeding to put him into a series of single-table sit-n-goes in the satellite section of the WSOP.
Le played four sit-n-goes to prepare, winning one, chopping one, and bricking two others. That was deemed enough by the pair, and Le promptly entered Day 1b of the Crazy Eights and busted out. He gave it another try on Day 1d and managed to advance to Day 2, then bagged in third place with 12 left.
The final table proved a very fast one, going from eight players to just three in a matter of 46 hands. Danchev then fell to Lech in a cooler after both flopped flushes on an board, with Lech's besting the Bulgarian's .
That left the father of five heads up against Lech at a sizable deficit, about 25 million to 7 million with blinds and antes at 120,000/240,000/40,000. Outchipped and vastly less experienced, Le figured his best hope was to push hard and hope variance fell his away.
That's exactly what he did right off the bat, doubling on the third hand of heads-up play after four-bet shoving the and getting called by Lech's . A board of later, Le was back in business.
On the 101st hand of the final table, Le bet-called for stacks with the on a board of . Lech held the but could not hit one of his many outs on the river.
"If he had a flush, he will reel me in, he's not going to shove like that," Le explained. "That's why I called with pocket deuces, it might be wrong, I don't know."
The result was a big win for the man who now calls Dayton, Ohio his home.
"We have a [lower] middle class family, we work hard," Le said. "We have a nail salon, but not a big one. My wife and my two kids work there. This will help a lot.
"What happened for me today is what's good about this game. Anybody can beat anybody. Anybody can have a chance, just like me."
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