Joe Cassidy was yet to win a major tournament when he sat down at the $5000 Omaha Hi-Lo final table at this year’s WSOP (World Series of Poker). In the event, he beat all-time poker greats like Scotty Nguyen and Phil Ivey to win his first bracelet.
Cassidy has been on the poker circuit for a long time. He has made a name for himself as a cash game pro. While he is a regular at major cash games, he is not seen in tournaments very often. For this reason, in spite of being a respected poker pro, Cassidy is relatively unknown among casual poker fans. But this changed on Thursday afternoon when he defeated Scotty Nguyen in $5k Limit Omaha 8 or Better to pocket $297,777 and his first WSOP bracelet.
The WSOP final table
The WSOP bracelet did not come easily to Cassidy. He had to battle it out with some of the biggest name in the poker world. Cassidy started out at the final table as the chip lead with a stack of 940,000 with Ivey close behind with 890,000. The two players held about 50% of the chips between them. With most other players holding stacks shorter than 500,000, they busted quite quickly. The first player to leave the final table was Ryan Lenaghan, who lost to Gregory Jamison.
After an hour-long dinner break, Mike Matusow dropped out. With just 15,000 remaining, he was unable to make up for the big blind worth 20,000. The raise by Meng La was called by Nguyen and Ivey forming a 3-way side pot. On the river, Ivey’s bet was called by Nguyen. The latter’s sevens and eights against Ivey’s nut low earned him the high half of the pot. Unable to place any claim on the pot, Matusow chose to collect his earnings and leave.
The next round sent Bart Hanson, who had been short stacked for quite some time, packing. Hanson called Ivey’s raise and the two had a showdown in which the latter came out a winner as the community cards proved unhelpful for Hanson. With deeper stacks, the six remaining players now had more room for playing. Jamison and Elie Doft were the next two players to leave the table. Cassidy put an end to both their tournament journeys by topping their hands. La left in the 4th place when his hand did not improve on the board.
Battle between 3 poker greats
Once La was eliminated, the battle was between Cassidy, Ivey and Nguyen. Cassidy with 1.6 million was in the lead, closely followed by Ivey with 1.3 million. Nguyen was lagging with 800,000. The battle between the 3 poker greats was one of the toughest at this year’s series. For some time, all 3 remained almost even in chips. Ivey was winning pots without going into a showdown and gaining traction as he took the chip lead by increasing his stack to 1.7 million.
Once the 3-handed play began, Ivey started losing the lead. Cassidy quartered him twice bringing his stack down to 1.4 million. For the next hour and a half, the stacks once again remained almost even, but later Cassidy began picking up momentum and gaining a lead. Cassidy hit the 2 million mark by winning a pot off Ivey. This left Ivey with just 300,000 and Nguyen at around a million. Ivey’s stack fluctuated between 300,000 and 600,000 as he won some double ups. But Ivey’s luck ran out when he called Cassidy’s raise. Now Nguyen was the only one between Cassidy and his first WSOP bracelet.
The final round of the tournament started on Thursday with Nguyen at 770,000 and Cassidy at just over 3 million. The latter was able to bring Nguyen’s stack down to 300,000 before he scored a double up. Nguyen’s stack fluctuated a lot with double ups and beat downs. At one point, he almost pulled even with Cassidy. But Nguyen’s cards failed to fluster Cassidy and he continued to play calmly.
Cassidy displayed no emotion as he continued to bring down Nguyen’s stack. Soon his determination earned him his first WSOP bracelet and the pot. Joe Cassidy stood first in the final table results with $294,777, Scotty Nguyen finished second with $182,213 and Phil Ivey third with $136,046. Gregory Jamison and Meng La made up the rest of the top five with $77,342 and $102,260 respectively.