Mikita Badziakouski added his first World Series of Poker bracelet Sunday night to an extensive poker resume that already includes eight figures worth of live tournament earnings, which puts him 13th on poker’s all-time money list.
The Belarussian is a regular in the world’s highest-stakes poker tournaments, making it no surprise that he took home his first piece of WSOP gold in the $50,000 no-limit hold ‘em high roller. He defeated a field of 113 entries to earn $1,462,043.
Badziakouski told WSOP live reporters after the victory that while adding a prestigious tournament title to his resume is nice, at the core, poker is still all about the money for him.
“Honestly, the bracelet is not as important for me as it is for many other players,” said Badziakouski. “I will just say it feels great to win a high roller.”
It’s the eighth seven-figure score of his career, which moves his career total north of $33 million. He also picked up 1,020 points in the Card Player Player of the Year race, which puts him 65th in this year’s standings.
Like most Badziakouski partakes in, the final table was as tough of a table as you could dream up. Daniel Negreanu, who was just a few days removed from the final table of the $50,000 pot-limit Omaha, Jason Koon, Stephen Chidwick, Ali Imsirovic, Portuguese poker prodigy Joao Vieira, and Ryan Leng all stood in the way of Badziakouski and the title. He defeated Ren Lin heads-up for the title.
But this level of competition is par for the course for the 29-year-old.
“I’ve played many final tables,” he told media after the event. “You just try to perform your best – there’s no special or unique ideas. You just do what you’ve learned before and that’s it.”
Badziakouski actually went to the final table near the bottom of the chip counts, while Carlos Villamarin held the lead.
He stayed out of harm’s way through the early stages of the final table and chipped up slowly as Leng busted in ninth place to Lin, Vieira was eliminated by Villamarin in eighth, who fell in seventh at the hands of Chidwick.
Once six-handed play began, Badziakouski vaulted into the chip lead by winning a massive pot off Chidwick. Badziakouski defended his big blind with AQ and check-called three streets on a A93K8 board to scoop a pot of nearly 40 big blinds against Chidwick’s AJ.
From there, Badziakouski applied relentless pressure and continued to extend his lead.
He all but eliminated Chidwick a few levels later after the British pro bet all but one 25,000-denomination chip on a flop of J85 and was called by Badziakouski. After both players checked the turn, Badziakouski bet the river and Chidwick folded, leaving himself with 25,000 when the blinds were 150,000-300,000.
The single-chip, however, allowed Chidwick to ladder up the pay scale as Imirovic was eliminated by Lin in sixth when he got his last three big blinds into the middle with AQ against Lin’s 87.
The board came J75210, which eliminated Imsirovic in sixth and essentially gave Chidwick an extra $89,000 when he was eliminated in fifth by Koon a couple of hands later.
Badziakouski won a flip with QQ against Koon’s AK to eliminate him in fourth and dispatched of Koon’s fellow GGPoker Ambassador Negreanu in third to get heads-up with Lin with 27,000,000 of the 34,000,000 chips in play.
It was Negreanu’s second third-place finish in the last few days after his final table of the $50,000 pot-limit Omaha. Over a four-day span, the poker legend cashed for $1.18 million.
It looked as if Badziakouski would cruise to his first WSOP title, but Lin was no pushover and would force Badziakouski to face some adversity en route to it.
Without a single double up, over the course of the next level and a half, Lin flipped the chip counts and it was the American with 27,000,000 in chips.
Badziakouski then doubled up when he called off his 11 big blind-stack with K6 against Lin’s 104. Lin flopped a four, but Badziakouski rivered a six to cut the chip deficit to 2-1. After a couple of non-showdown pots, Badziakouski regained a slight lead of his own, and one that he wouldn’t give away again.
He extended the lead and ultimately got the last of Ren’s chips in the middle with Badziakouski showing A5 against Lin’s K7.
The board ran out 98289. Badziakouski won the pot with ace-high and Lin earned a career-best $903,610 for his runner-up finish.
Final Table Results:
Photo Credit: WSOP/Melissa Haereiti