WSOP TODAY: June 20; Japan’s first bracelet, Tryba hits straight flush to win

Highlights from day 25 of the 2012 WSOP (June 20)

Naoya Kihara (pictured left) has written a new chapter in poker history by becoming the first gold bracelet winner from the nation of Japan in the 43-year history of the WSOP.

Incredibly, no Japanese player had ever won poker’s most prestigious prize, although Maeda Azusa did come close last year at WSOP Europe, finishing second.

Kihara won the $5000 buy-in Six-Handed Pot-Limit Hold’em championship (Event #34). He topped 419 players from more than 25 different countries and collected USD $512,029 in prize money.

The 30-year-old professional poker player mostly plays online, although he now hopes to travel around the world and play in more live tournaments with this victory. Prior to playing full-time, Kihara was a schoolteacher. Last year, Kihara played in the Main Event Championship and cashed in 653rd place.

The runner up was Chris De Maci, who put up a good fight, but was no match for Kihara. Two former gold bracelet winners made it to the final table, including Davidi Kitai, who took fifth and Jason DeWitt finished eighth.

• Chris Tryba, tournament circuit grinder from Boston, enjoyed the thrill of a poker lifetime when he made a straight flush on the final hand to win his first gold bracelet – the $2500 buy-in Mixed Hold’em (Limit/No Limit) event. Tryba collected $210,107 in prize money, his biggest score ever among 10 WSOP cashes.

Known for his trademark white T-shirt and worn out baseball cap, Tryba more than earned this victory. Prior to this WSOP, most of Tryba’s previous tournament experience consisted of travelling around the United States, playing at each of the 17 WSOP Circuit stops that run from September until May. During the last two years, he’s spent nearly half his time in hotel rooms (150 days a year, according to his estimate).

Tryba also explained that some time ago he was shopping at a discount store. He noticed that white 100 per cent cotton t-shirts (Size XXX-L) were on sale for three bucks each. So, in one massive swoop he bought them all!

•  Event #36, the $3000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Shootout tournament, enters the final table today, continues with Day Three – including the final table. The line-up of 10 players features Antonio Esfandiari, crowd favourite Roberto Romanello and Joe Tehan, who is chasing a seventh cash for the 2012 WSOP which would tie him with Terrence Chan and Jesse Martin.

A typically tough line-up of seasoned pros feature prominently in the list of 27 players who remain in contention for the $2500 buy-in Eight-Game Mixed title. Joseph Coudon leads the field with 303,000 with Rep Porter, Jerrod Ankenman, Jennifer Harman, Donnacha O’Dea, Scott Seiver, Matt Hawrilenko, Steve Zolotow, Jeff Madsen and Barry Greenstein chasing hard.

The starting field of 2534 in Event #38, the $1500 No Limit Hold’em tournament is down to 277 players. Layne Flack continued his strong run at this series in finishing the day at the head of the chip count.

New events that start today are the Event #39, the $10,000 buy-in Pot Limit Omaha World Championship and Event #40, the $2500 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em tournament.

• Additional reporting, Nolan Dalla,

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