When most people win a World Series of Poker bracelet, at least a little of the money is blown on something frivolous like a nice car or at least a night on the town. For Ken Griffin, the first thought on his mind about what to do with the money is to give it to his mom–along with one lucky sweatshirt.
Sporting an official WSOP hoodie, Griffin cruised through a field of 2,890 players in the latest $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event to pick up a first place prize worth over $450,000. The 34-year-old former Marine knocked out every opponent standing between him and the money with seven players remaining to make his first cash a memorable one for him and for his family.
“I actually came home from [working as a defense consultant] in Afghanistan because my mom was sick and I wanted to take care of her and be closer to home. Originally, I wasn’t even supposed to be here, I was supposed to be in Afghanistan, but I guess everything happens for a reason,” Griffin mused after his big win.
“I’m transferring money to her accout as soon as I get it. She’s a senior, working class, going through chemotherapy. She’s living paycheck to paycheck and medicine is expensive, so i am really looking forward to helping her out.”
Not only will Griffin help his mom through a tough time, he will bring back some mementos. The lucky sweatshirt will be a nice token, but we’re guessing Mom is going to be pretty excited to see that gold bracelet too.
The final table action began with a quick one-two punch of eliminations as a number of short stack players tried to chip up and catch big stacks Jean Luc Marais and Antonio Esfandiari. While the short stacks clamored for chips, Griffin just laid low.
First, Jeremiah Siegmund ran pocket nines into Eric Baudry’s pocket queens to go out in ninth place. Aaron Massey’s elimination hand was a little tougher to take. He got it in with the best of it, holding KK to Andrew Teng’s 66. However, the board ran out AT27K to give Teng a diamond flush and send Massey home.
While those short stacks failed to double, Philip Hammerling earned a crucial double up at the expense of Antonio Esfandiari. The Magician came into the final table as one of the big stacks, but doubled up Baudry in a pivotal spot where he called Baudry’s shove on an AQ94 board with A8 for top pair. Unfortunately for Esfandiari, Baudry held pocket aces and top set, and doubled up.
That hand left Esfandiari in shove mode and it wasn’t long before his chips were in the middle. He moved in over the top of an opening raise from Ken Griffin and Hammerling reraised all-in behind him. Esfandiari’s KT was in bad shape against Hammerling’s AK, he failed to improve, and The Magician vanished in seventh place, while Hammerling joined Jean Luc Marais as the big stacks at the table.
Jonathan Lane headed home in sixth place when his AQ couldn’t win a preflop race against Griffin’s 88. Griffin picked up KO number two when the situation was reversed. Teng moved in with 66, Griffin called with AQ, and flopped an ace to send Teng home in fifth place. Griffin went three for three on flips when he busted Baudry a short while later in a situation similar to Lane’s exit, where Griffin’s 99 outflipped Baudry’s AQ to trim the field to three.
The trifecta of eliminations also gave Jennings a substantial chip lead, but he spent much of three-handed play bouncing about the chip counts, doubling up Marais on two separate occasions and doubling through and subsequently busting Hammerling. Hammerling shoved all-in on the river of a 774A3 board with K7 for trip sevens and Griffin quickly called with 68 for an eight-high flush. The flush was good, Hammerling was out third, and Griffin was close to even in chips with Marais headed into heads-up play.
It didn’t take long for Griffin to take control of the heads-up bout though, quickly pulling to a 3-1 advantage. He ended the battle with a knockout punch, picking up AA when Marais shoved all-in preflop holding K6. The board ran out queen-high and the rockets held to give Griffin the pot, the bracelet, and nearly half a million dollars in cash.
“Not to sound cocky, but from Day 1, I knew I was going to go deep,” Griffin admitted. “I was winning pots, picking up cards when I needed to, winning races when I needed to, and I just had a really good feeling.”
Here are the final table results from the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Event:
1st: Ken Griffin – $455,356
2nd: Jean Luc Marais – $282,676
3rd: Philip Hammerling – $199,366
4th: Eric Baudry – $143,991
5th: Andrew Teng – $105,262
6th: Jonathan Lane- $77,873
7th: Antonio Esfandiari – $58,288
8th: Aaron Massey – $44,138
9th: Jeremiah Siegmund – $33,813