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Adelaide Pro James Obst Places 13th at WSOP Main Event

Fri, Jul 22, 9:15am by Staff Writer

James ObstFollowing a stellar run at the 47th annual World Series of Poker, Adelaide-based poker pro James Obst nearly capped his American summer off by earning a seat to the most anticipated final table of the year.

Competing against a field of 6,736 other players, Obst managed to survive the gauntlet known as the WSOP Main Event for seven full days of play, before finally falling in 13th place. For his efforts, Obst took home a cash prize of USD$427,930 – the largest live score in the 25-year old’s career – but that consolation prize pales in comparison to what might have been.

The Main Event of the WSOP is known the world over as poker’s most prestigious tournament. Boasting a buy-in of USD$10,000 simply to enter, the Main Event attracts nearly every elite poker pro on the planet, along with legions of recreational players who line up for their chance to compete against the game’s best – and for a shot at winning truly life-changing money.

Every Australian remembers the 2005 edition of the WSOP Main Event, when Melbourne’s own Joe Hachem summited poker’s peak to win the World Championship. That victory earned Hachem a USD$7.5 million payday, while also paving the way for his eventual career as globetrotting poker pro and ambassador of the game.

Since then, no Australian has made it back to the WSOP Main Event final table, a fact which Obst was keenly aware of as he played his way through the tournament’s pivotal stages. By the end of Day 6, which left only 27 contenders for the crown, Obst had built his starting stack of 50,000 chips into a massive tower of 19,560,000 – good for fourth place on the leaderboard entering the crucial seventh and final day of the tournament proper.

Despite this strong standing, however, Obst was subject to the fickle fates of tournament poker, and his storybook run came to an end in quite standard fashion: with his stack now short relative to his tablemates, he shoved all-in holding a pocket pair of 5s, only to be called down by Qui Nguyen and his pocket pair of 10s. No help arrived on the five community cards, and Obst was sent packing just short of the finish line.

In 2008, the WSOP made a fundamental shift to the Main Event structure, as the tournament is now suspended when the field reaches nine players remaining. Members of the final table then take an extended break, before reconvening in November to play out the conclusion of the tournament. Reaching the “November Nine” has become one of the most highly acclaimed accomplishments within the world of poker, and Obst needed only four other opponents to bust out in order to stamp his own ticket.

This year, each member of the November Nine is assured of earning USD$1 million, while the eventual winner will pocket the massive USD$8 million top prize.

Even with the close call, Obst still strung together a truly tremendous run throughout the seven-week long WSOP summer. In total, he made the money in eight different events, including a runner-up finish in the prestigious $10,000 H.O.R.S.E event (USD$261,354), a 7th place run in the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice event (USD$37,167), and a 10th place showing in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Eight-or- Better event (USD $57,160).

For the former online poker phenom, who was once featured by the Herald Sun as a 19-year old for winning AU$1.5 million while “playing in bed on a laptop,” the 2016 WSOP marks his breakthrough moment as a live tournament pro.

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