Alexandru Papazian made poker history as the first Romanian player to ever capture a World Series of Poker gold bracelet when he took down the 2017 WSOP $888 buy-in eight-max no-limit hold’em ‘crazy eights’ event for $888,888. The format of the tournament must suit Papazian’s game, as he managed to win his second bracelet in the online version of the same event during the 2021 WSOP Online festival. This time around Papazian defeated a field of 2,350 entries to secure the hardware and the top prize of $241,128.
Papazian came into the final day of this event in second chip position with 31 players remaining, with Venezuela’s Eugenio Pernia sitting atop the leaderboard when action resumed. Pernia ended up finishing ninth for $24,112, while Papazian survived to the final table in the middle of the pack.
Igor Thiesen ran A-J into A-Q suited to finish in eighth place ($32,155). Nikola Minkov (3rd – $42,879) followed not too long after when K-Q failed to outrun the A-J of Patrick Mahoney. A classic preflop race ended in brutal fashion for Aleksey Churbanov. His 77 were up against the AQ of Tal Noach. The sevens remained ahead through the K108 flop and the 10 turn, but the river put two high pairs on the board to counterfeit Churbanov’s pocket pair. He earned $57,180 as the sixth-place finisher.
Noach then overtook the top spot in the chip counts when his AA held up against the AK of Mahoney, who had cold four-bet from the big blind after an early position raise was three-bet by Noach. Mahoney found no help from the board and was eliminated in fifth place $76,250.
Cristian Nagaki was the next to fall to Noach. In a battle of the blinds, Noach shoved from the small blind with A6 and Nagaki called with Q9. Neither player improved and Nagaki was sent packing in fourth place ($101,682).
Papazian was the shortest stack when three-handed action began, but managed to surge up the leaderboard when his flopped set of deuces beat out the turned top pair of Santiago Varela. The Uruguayan player fell to the bottom of the chip counts after the hand, and soon was at risk with 64 against the AJ of Noach, who flopped top pair and held from there to set up a heads-up showdown with Papazian. Varela was awarded $135,595 for his third-place showing.
Papazian held roughly a 2:1 chip lead to start, and remained ahead by the time the final hand arose. Papazian raised to 1,000,000 from the button with Q6 and Noach called from the big blind with 87. The Q65 flop saw Noach check and Papazian bet 699,600. Noach check-raised with his open-ended straight draw, making it 2,600,000 to go. Papazian called with his top two pair and the 3 hit the turn. Noach bet 3,660,000 and Papazian called. The 2 on the river prompted Noach to move all-in with his busted draw for 9,482,308. Papazian called with his two pair to lock up the pot and the title, while Noach earned $180,818 as the runner-up finisher.
Here is a look at the payouts awarded at the final table: