Eric Baldwin won his first World Series of Poker bracelet in 2009, over nine years ago. Today, he won his second in Event #37: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em at the 2018 World Series of Poker.
On the extra fourth day of play, he started out with a dominant chip lead over Ian Steinman. Steinman didn't go down without a fight, though, and it took a suckout with ace-jack versus kings for Baldwin to win.
"It was a lot of hours of poker and a lot of short-handed play, that really sucks your mental energy," Baldwin said after his win. "But man it's fun! I wish everyone could experience this. It's so cool!"
|1||Eric Baldwin||United States||$319,580|
|2||Ian Steinman||United States||$197,461|
|4||Aaron Massey||United States||$101,819|
|5||Robert Georato||United States||$74,434|
|6||Michael Finstein||United States||$55,077|
|7||Stephen Song||United States||$41,257|
|8||Gilsoo Kim||United States||$31,290|
|9||Mathew Moore||United States||$24,032|
On the last scheduled day of the tournament, the field quickly played down from the twenty that started to a final table of nine. Jason Guarinello was the first to fall at the final table after losing a race to Michael Finstein.
It took nearly twenty hands until Mathew Moore was sent home next. He lost a coin flip to Rudelitz to be sent home in ninth place. Gilsoo Kim dropped in eight place after shoving pocket jacks into the pocket kings of Robert Georato.
Next up with his head on the chopping block was Stephen Song. He finished in seventh place when he shoved jack-seven into Georato's ace-deuce and couldn't catch up.
Right after, Baldwin won a massive pot against Aaron Massey in a cooler situation to take the chip lead. Baldwin bet the flop, turn, and river on a board where he made a backdoor flush with ace-three of clubs. Massey showed nine-ten of clubs for a flopped middle pair that had made runner runner flush as well.
"That was an incredible runout for me obviously, just a nasty cooler for him," Baldwin said afterward, reflecting on the hand. "It definitely propelled me, and I believe it gave me the chip lead."
Michael Finstein fell next in sixth place after losing a flip against Baldwin. Baldwin's pocket threes flopped a set and sent Finstein home. Baldwin eliminated Robert Georato in another coinflip when his pocket nines held up once again, this time against king-ten.
Aaron Massey was never quite able to recover from the cooler, and he was sent home in fourth place, losing a flip to none other than Baldwin. This time, Baldwin's eights held up against king-ten.
The final player to fall on Day 3 was [Removed:4] who got it in with ace-five against Steinman's queens and couldn't catch up.
"Heads up did not start well, and I ended up needing to get lucky allin one time, and then built back up some momentum," Baldwin said of the start of the heads-up on Day 3.
After two hours of play, the two remaining players got the option to either play another level or come back the next day. Baldwin wanted to continue. He had the lead, the momentum, and he wanted to be home the next day to celebrate his wife's birthday. Steinman, though, was more a fan of the idea to continue the next day and so the bags came out, and play was halted.
When the action resumed on Day 4, Steinman was the first to take a hit when Baldwin made two pair in a sizable pot.
Steinman won it all back doubling with sixes versus ace-king, and won some more getting two streets of value with a flopped top pair that he checked behind on the flop. That got Steinman up to his highest point, trailing with 4 million to 6 million.
Steinman wouldn't hold on to his newfound chips. He lost some smaller pots, doubled back with king-six against queen-deuce, but eventually lost it all in another pre-flop all-in situation. Steinman got it in good with pocket kings against the ace-jack off of Baldwin. The latter turned a jack and rivered an ace to win the tournament, $319,580, and the bracelet. Steinman had to settle for $197,461.
Baldwin celebrated his win with his supporters on the rail. Not only fellow poker players had come out to cheer him on, as a surprise, his mother had come out as well. "It's surreal. My mum came out and surprised me. I had no idea she was coming, so it ended up being a blessing that we didn't finish last night. It gave her a chance to get out here and see it."
His mother hadn't been present when Baldwin won his first bracelet in 2009, and his dad, unfortunately, missed out on that one too. Since his first bracelet, his father came to Vegas anytime Baldwin made a final table but was never lucky enough to catch his son win his coveted second bracelet. "He kept coming out and trying to catch me when I'd make a final table, but I could never win one, including a grueling second place [to Matt Waxman in 2013.]"
Eric Baldwin's father passed away three years ago, so Baldwin junior dedicated his win today to him. "In a lot of ways, this one is for him," Baldwin said while wiping away a tear.
His mother chimed in; "He was here... His presence was here."
Baldwin reflected on the changes the game has undergone since that first bracelet in 2009. "A lot has changed in the game, but at the same time, it's the same game. You're sitting at the table with the other players and try to take each other's chips."
He was critical as well; "A lot of the advancement in strategy gets taken too far and can maybe seem intimidating to the recreational players. There are always trends in strategy, and there's always people talking like they're super smart."
Baldwin offered a tip for newcomers to the game: "Don't be intimidated by something like that, this is an awesome event that's going on out here, and it's still something that's incredibly enjoyable."
Not only the game has changed since 2009, his life has changed dramatically as well. "It seems like a different lifetime ago because so much has happened between then and now. I started a family. I'll tell you, it makes you treat it a lot more professionally," Baldwin said laughing.
"We got real responsibility, comparatively. It's been an evolution and just the coolest thing in the world. My wife Mary [...] is an absolute superhero. She's so good with our kids, and I'm incredibly lucky. All of my support; I'm incredibly blessed. My mum, my sister, my grandma still follows [my poker career], and they're all just super supportive and incredible people. So I'm very lucky, in more ways than just this."