WSOP TODAY: June 12; Bracelet for Belgium, Ohel prevails in Lowball marathon

Highlights from day 17 of the 2012 WSOP (June 12)

Belgium is known for beer, chocolates and, increasingly, WSOP bracelet winners. Michael Gathy (pictured left), a 23-year-old professional poker player from Brussels conquered the second-largest tournament field of the year to date to win his first WSOP gold bracelet in Event #21, the $1000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament, pocketing $440,829 in the process.

He topped a massive field totaling 2799 entrants, ultimately winning poker’s most coveted prize late on the third and final day of competition. This was also his first ever WSOP cash. The first Belgian winner was Davidi Katai, who won the $2000 buy-in Pot Limit Hold’em event back in 2008.

The final hand was a gift for Gathy. He was dealt pocket 10s against runner-up, Jamie Armstrong, holding pocket nines. The higher pocket pair held up.

The top 297 finishers collected prize money. The final table of nine included two gold bracelet winners – John Esposito and Eric Baldwin. Also of note was Martin Staszko’s in-the-money finish (116th). He was the runner up in last year’s WSOP Main Event Championship.

• Randy Ohel, a 26-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, won his first WSOP gold bracelet in Event #22, the $2500 buy-in Deuce-to-Seven Triple-Draw Lowball (Limit) title, collecting USD $145,247 in prize money.

Ohel topped a quality field of 228 entrants including a final table that included some of the games most respected and accomplished pros. Of special note was Ben Lazer’s runner-up finish in his first WSOP event ever.

In fact, the final heads-up duel between Lazar and Ohel was unquestionably the most gruelling battle of this year’s WSOP, to date. The chip lead changed 14 times, by one estimate. At one point, Ohel was down by a 16 to 1 margin. The bout went 6.5 hours making it one of the longest duels in the history of any limit match.

The rest of the finale included David Baker, Farzad Bonyadi (three wins), Jason Lavallee, and Shawn Buchanan. As much as this stellar line-up appeared to be destined for as the stars of the finale, instead it was two relatively unknown players who stole the show and put on the poker performance of the year, to date.

• Additional reporting, Nolan Dalla,

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