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Anthony Gregg Wins $4.8 Million In ‘One Drop’ High Roller Event At World Series Of Poker

Brian Yoon Scores $663,727 In ‘Little One For One Drop’ Rebuy

by Brian Pempus |  Published: Sep 01, 2013


There wasn’t a $1 million buy-in at the 2013 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, but there were plenty of fireworks thanks to the special “One Drop” tournaments.

The first such event of the summer was a $111,111 buy-in, which was won by longtime Maryland poker pro Anthony Gregg. He beat out an elite field of 166. The “Little One for One Drop,” a $1,111 buy-in rebuy that attracted 4,756 entrants, started about a week later and was won by Brian Yoon, who hails from California.

Gregg captured about $4.8 million, while Yoon scooped $663,727. Both events had part of their prize pools go to the One Drop charity, championed by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté.

The $1 million buy-in One Drop tournament is expected to return in 2014.

Here’s a look at Gregg and Yoon’s respective roads to victory.

Anthony Gregg’s First Career Bracelet

During the late stages of the tournament, all eyes were on Antonio Esfandiari, as he tried to defend his One Drop title. However, at about three-quarters of the way through the final table, it was apparent that Gregg was poised to capture one of the most prestigious titles of the year and cement his status as one of the game’s best young pros.

Like many of his peers, Gregg started out at a young age playing cards competitively with Magic: The Gathering. He is one of a handful of astonishing pros to come out of the state of Maryland. The state has produced greats such as Dan Cates, Scott Palmer, Phil Galfond, Greg Merson and Christian Harder. All of the aforementioned have had illustrious careers so far, and Gregg, in terms of success on the felt, is right up there with anyone in that group.

In order to capture his first career bracelet, Gregg had to outlast Esfandiari, who finished fourth. After doubling up businessman Richard Perkins in a massive coin flip (Esfandiari’s pocket sevens versus Perkins’ KHeart Suit JHeart Suit), Esfandiari had the short stack when his final hand come down. The action started with Chris Klodnicki raising to 800,000 on the button, and Esfandiari moving all in for 9,925,000. Klodnicki called, and they tabled their hands.

Klodnicki held the ADiamond Suit 9Heart Suit and was in a coin flip against Esfandiari’s 8Diamond Suit 8Spade Suit. The flop was safe for the defending champion, falling KDiamond Suit 7Heart Suit 6Heart Suit, and so was the 6Spade Suit on the turn. However, the AHeart Suit ended Esfandiari’s run and put Gregg even closer to his eventual win. Klodnicki won the hand with a pair of aces to grow his stack to 21.5 million.

The Bluff That Derailed The Defending Champion

Esfandiari’s demise could also be attributed to a massive bluff Klodnicki ran on him earlier at the final table. The hand in question started off with Esfandiari raising to 625,000 with the ADiamond Suit 4Diamond Suit, and after the small blind folded, Klodnicki called from the big blind with the JHeart Suit 8Heart Suit.

The flop fell AHeart Suit 9Heart Suit 6Spade Suit, and action went check/check. The 3Diamond Suit on the turn prompted another check from Klodnicki. Esfandiari bet 550,000, which Klodnicki check-raised to 1.5 million. Esfandiari called with his pair of aces, while Klodnicki needed to catch a card to make a hand.

The river was the 10Diamond Suit, and Klodnicki bet 3.3 million, with complete air, into a pot of 4.6 million. Antonio went into the tank for what seemed like forever, pulling out every trick in the book to try and get a read off of Klodnicki. Klodnicki gave him nothing. Esfandiari eventually gave up trying to obtain more information and made the fold.

After the hand, Esfandiari was down to 13.65 million, while Klodnicki jumped to 14.35 million. The pot sent the defending champion into freefall. Klodnicki explained the play by saying that a weak-ace was “at the top of [Esfandiari’s] range.”

“He could have had absolutely nothing on the turn…once he called the turn I realized he had something…but he’s good enough to check back a flop there with nothing to represent a weak ace. After he called the turn I was pretty sure he had some kind of pair. It was a good river for me because I could represent 8-7, and I figured if I bet there I get him to fold often enough.”

Despite the strong line Klodnicki decided to take, the bluff apparently worked for one very simple reason. Klodnicki explained: “He told me that I looked very comfortable and that’s why he folded, but I wasn’t (laughing). I was trying to relax and look at the dealer, gave her a little smile to keep myself relaxed.”

“I was hoping someone would call the clock, because I didn’t want to do it myself,” he added.

Klodnicki’s brazen play was enough to propel him to heads-up action with Gregg.

Gregg’s Turn To Make A Run

Like Klodnicki, Gregg was able to find some awesome spots of his own to build his chip stack. Queens happened to be very good for Gregg at the final table, and they came in handy to help him get off of a short stack. On one hand he held pocket queens versus an all-in shove by eventual sixth-place finisher Martin Jacobson. Jacobson held the ADiamond Suit JHeart Suit.

The board ran out QHeart Suit 7Club Suit 4Club Suit 7Heart Suit 3Club Suit, giving Gregg a full house.

Right before heads-up play, Anthony Gregg limped preflop and Bill Perkins raised all in for 5.35 million. Gregg called and they flipped over their cards.

Gregg held the ASpade Suit QSpade Suit, while Perkins had the AClub Suit 5Diamond Suit. The flop of 9Spade Suit 8Heart Suit 5Club Suit was awful for Gregg, and a 4Spade Suit on the turn wasn’t exactly what he wanted, but it did give him a flush draw. However, the QHeart Suit on the river gave Gregg the winning hand.

Perkins was eliminated in third place; while Gregg grew his stack to 31.2 million in advance of the heads-up final against Klodnicki’s 18.6 million.

The match was brief, as it was all Gregg. The final hand began with Klodnicki limping in. Gregg checked before the flop was dealt 9Heart Suit 4Diamond Suit 3Club Suit. Gregg checked, Klodnicki bet 500,000, and Gregg raised to 1.4 million. Klodnicki reraised all in for his remaining 8 million, and Gregg called. The two remaining players revealed their hands one last time. Gregg held the 9Diamond Suit 2Heart Suit for top pair, while Klodnicki had the 7Spade Suit 5Diamond Suit for a gut-shot straight draw. The room became very tense.

The dealer burned and dealt the 5Heart Suit on the turn, giving Klodnicki more outs. He could win with any five, six or seven. A card was burned once more, and the 3Spade Suit emerged, sealing the victory for Gregg. Gregg won the pot and the tournament with nines-up, while Klodnicki was eliminated in second place with fives-up and took home $2,985,495. A massive $4.8 million was Gregg’s after just 80 hands of final-table play. Klodnicki, a high-stakes mixed game pro from New Jersey, grew his lifetime tournament earnings to more than $8.7 million.

“It was an amazing feeling,” the champion said. However, he added that “all the attention is a bit too much for me. I like keeping it low-key.” One should not expect Gregg to become a flashy high roller, or even want to be all that recognized in poker rooms.

Gregg’s massive score comes just one year after he staked Greg Merson for the $10,000 six-max and the main event, both of which the latter won. Gregg has netted untold millions from the World Series of the past couple of summers, and might be that span’s biggest winner.

Multitabling Live At The Rio

Gregg’s performance was also a good example of how winning money in poker, no matter how much it is, is never quite good enough. Poker pros are motivated, in some sense, by a desire to win, in theory, every single dollar and every single chip that exists within the poker economy.

Despite playing for $4.8 million, Gregg was essentially multitabling, live, at the Rio. The Maryland native also had a stack in the $25,000 six-max no-limit hold’em, but he had to just let it blind away while he competed for the “One Drop” title. He explained the decision.

When asked if he was trying to win all the money in the Rio, Gregg laughed and said: “I just like playing poker. There is only one $25,000 six-max this year, and had I busted the One Drop five minutes after registration ended in the $25,000 I would have been really bummed.”

According to Gregg, the chip stacks became pretty shallow late in the One Drop.
After winner photos and interviews were concluded, a disoriented Gregg started jogging, then sprinting, to try and find his $25,000 table. He was halfway down the hall in the Rio before realizing he was headed in the wrong direction. He stopped and backtracked, mistakenly going into the “Ladies Event” tournament area, before finally being given some concrete instructions on where he was supposed to go.

When he finally got to his table, Gregg received some hugs and congratulations from his peers, but also a question on why he was playing another tournament right away, to which Gregg replied with a smirk on his face, “Gotta grind; gotta earn.” Despite the rush, Gregg ended up busting about an hour later, well before the event reached the money.

The day was also bizarre for Gregg since he and Klodnicki have basically the same group of poker friends and actually lived together in the same house last summer during the WSOP. So there wasn’t a whole lot of cheering for either player during their heads-up match.

“It was like whatever,” Gregg said of how their friends viewed the battle. It lasted just 19 hands.

A Meteoric Rise In Poker

Despite the One Drop feeling, in many ways, like just another tournament on Gregg’s schedule, it marked an accomplishment that is kind of surreal for him.

“I started playing in late 2002,” he said. “Like many poker players, I used to play Magic: The Gathering when I was a kid, and I sort of graduated into poker. I started having a moderate amount of success during my senior year in high school, and didn’t have that much desire for college. So I decided to keep playing poker while I figured out what I wanted to do. I knew I’d be able to make good money doing it, but never imagined it would get to the level it did.”

While Gregg, like so many other pros, sells some action for big buy-in events, he has actually managed to be on his own financially throughout his career.

“I started off playing primarily cash, so I was never really in need of investors for tournaments,” he said. “Cash is a more stable way to build a bankroll. Back in the day, I’d grind cash nonstop, and occasionally play a big live event to reward myself for all my hard work. I didn’t realize this at the time, but this is for sure the best way to go about things.”

Gregg was actually primarily a high-stakes cash game player until he finished second in the 2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event for $1.7 million. “[The PCA finish] did motivate me to play more live tournaments because I got that adrenaline rush from going deep in one,” Gregg said.

Other big scores of Gregg’s career include a win at World Poker Tour Parx in 2012 for $416,000 and a runner-up finish in a high roller event this past May for just under $1 million.

So far in 2013, Gregg has won more than $5.8 million, which brings his lifetime earnings in tournaments alone to more than $9.3 million.

Here Are The Final Results Of The $111,111 ‘One Drop’:

1. Anthony Gregg — $4,830,619
2. Chris Klodnicki — $2,985,495
3. Bill Perkins — $1,965,163
4. Antonio Esfandiari — $1,433,438
5. Richard Fullerton — $1,066,491
6. Martin Jacobson — $807,427
7. Brandon Steven — $621,180
8. Nick Schulman — $485,029