In the abrupt 2013 WSOP battle between the scarves, Athanasios Polychronopoulos emerged victorious, capturing his second gold bracelet.
Wearing a thin plaid scarf in the sometimes frigid Amazon room, he played only three hands heads up with German Manuel Mutke, who donned a black and white striped scarf.
“I ran good. I played OK,” Polychronopoulos said. “Everyone’s solid. I don’t know how I’m so blessed.”
The man whose first name means “immortal” or “eternal life,” won his bracelet in a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Event in 2011. He has longest name of any bracelet winner.
At the final table, Polychronopoulos recalled his experience winning the gold bracelet two years ago as he made successful three-bets and four-bets.
“When they went through,” he said, “I felt like my timing was fortunate, and I felt like good things were going to happen.”
Polychronopoulos was pushed to second place in chips entered three-handed play, but that changed quickly after Polychronopoulos knocked out Everett Carlton. He took a 5.19 million to 4.29 million chip lead entering heads up play with Mutke.
Shortly after Cada was eliminated, both Carlton and Mutke doubled through Polychronopoulos. In the first hand, Carlton shoved 7 7, Polychronopoulos called with A T, and Carlton spiked a set on the flop. Polychronopoulos was drawing dead by the turn.
The very next hand, Mutke moved in with J 7, spikeed a seven on the flop, and bested the [ As] 9 of Polychronopoulos. But he remained composed as play continued.
On the fifth hand at the final table, Thomas Nicotera moved all in for 389,000 over a raise from Polychronopoulos, who quickly called with K K, dominating the A 6 of Nicotera. The board ran out J 7 6 5 5 and Nicotera was sent home in ninth place.
One hand prior to an afternoon break, Carlton picked up A A and doubled through Mutke, who held K K, which put Carlton near the chip lead. Players returned from the break and Carlton found black aces waiting for him on the first hand. With blinds at 15,000/30,000, Polychronopoulos opened for 70,000 from the cutoff, Carlton called on the button and Baker shoved his remaining 490,000 from the small blind. Carlton snap-called and turned over his A A, dominating the A 4 of Baker. The flop brought a little help for Baker, with Q 4 3, but he could not improve as the board ran out K K and he was sent home in eighth place.
Joe Ward moved all in from the cutoff for his last 290,000 and was called by Taylor in the small blind. Ward turned over J 7 and Taylor showed A Q, moving even farther ahead after he spiked an ace on the flop. The board ran out A T 5 K 9 and Ward was sent home in seventh place.
With blinds at 20,000/40,000, the players folded to Manuel Mutke in the small blind, and he raised to 80,000. Michael Kurth called in the big blind, and they saw a flop of 8 5 5 and Mutke bet 65,000. Kurth raised to 200,000 and Mutke, who had Kurth covered, moved all in after thinking for about a minute. Kurth called, showing 4  and Mutke turned over Q 7 to the slight relief of Kurth. The turn 6 brought a little more help for Kurth, but the river T sent him to the rail in sixth place.
Five players returned from dinner break, and Polychronopoulos held a dominating chip lead over the others. Sam Taylor moved all in and was called by Cada, who was at risk for his tournament life. The two would race, with Cada holding A Q against the T T of Taylor. The flop of A J 6 gave Cada the lead. Despite picking up a gutshot straight draw on the Q turn, the river brought the 6 and Taylor was crippled.
He moved all in the next hand for 245,000 and was called by Polychronopoulos. Taylor turned over K J and Polychronopoulos revealed A 9, which took a bigger lead on the flop of T 9 5. Taylor could not catch up as the turn brough the 5 and the T fell on the river, eliminating Taylor in fifth.
Joe Cada’s shot at a second gold bracelet was stopped short after Polychronopoulos spiked a three-outer against him. Cada moved all in with A Q and Polychronopoulos called with A J. The 8 7 2 flop looked good for Cada, but the turn J gave Polychronopoulos the lead and the 6 river sent Cada out in fourth place.
With the blinds at 50,000/100,000, Mutke folded the button, Polychronopoulos raised to 250,000 from the small blind with A J, and Everett Carlton moved in with A 6 for 2.45 million. He was quickly called by Polychronopoulos, who had Carlton covered. The board ran out 9 3 3 Q 5, sending Carlton home in third place.
For Polychronopoulos, the final hand came down to spiking a three-outer with his favorite card — the Q — on the river. He raised to 250,000 on the button and Mutke three-bet to 650,000 from the big blind. Polychronopoulos decided to shove, and Mutke called instantly. Manuel was way ahead with A J against the Q J of Polychronopoulos. The flop brought the J 5 3 and the dealer rolled off the 2 on the turn. And with the Q river, Polychronopoulos emerged the winner.
“Deep down I was a little worried he might even have a hand,” Polychronopoulos said of the final hand. “But I thought he was just trying to be a little aggressive, trying to set the tone early, so he could have a little edge later on. And I had queen jack. I mean… shoot.”
Final Table Results
- Athanasios Polychronopoulos – $518,755
- Manuel Mutke — $322,908
- Everett Carlton — $224,445
- Joe Cada — $161,652
- Sam Taylor — $118,145
- Michael Kurth — $87,398
- Joe Ward — $65,502
- David “Bakes” Baker — $49,176
- Thomas Nicotera — $38,178