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Alex Borteh Wins Race No. 34 at the WSOP

Borteh Runs Down Bradon Wong for the $3,000 Limit Hold'em Gold

"Hold'em - like life itself - has its defining moment. It's the flop. When you see the flop, you're looking at 71 percent of your hand, and the cost is only a single round of betting."
- Lou Krieger

It's that very school of thought that has attracted every gambler to the simplistic intricacies of limit hold'em. It's far more methodical and calculated than its no-limit counterpart, and there is no quick kill, only a slow, painful death. Limit hold'em is not about picking few spots and doubling up with the nuts. It's about getting out in front, setting the pace, and slowly putting distance between you and your opponents. To win a limit hold'em bracelet, you must know precisely when to release your own aggression while being able to harness that of your opponents.

Event No. 34 drove 296 horses to the window, all of whom ponied up the $3,000 buy-in to create a total purse of $816,960. As the tired and hungry final nine gathered for the third day in a row, the final table was set, and dinner was served at 3 p.m. Alex Borteh sat at the head of the table with $389,000 in chips, followed by Shawn Keller ($260,000), David "The Dragon" Pham ($254,000), Michael Byrne ($231,000), Brandon Wong ($216,000), Vivek Rajkumar ($170,000), Mathew Kelly ($97,000), Petri Pollanen ($94,000), and Marco Johnson ($66,000).

Petri Pollanen Eliminated in Ninth Place ($14,705)

Vivek Rajkumar raised from the button with A-5 and Petri Pollanen called out of the small blind with A Q. The flop came 9 5 6, and Pollanen bet $10,000. Rajkumar just smooth-called. The turn brought the 3 and Pollanen bet $20,000, Rajkumar raised to $40,000, and Pollanen reraised all in. The river brought the 7, no help to Pollanen as he was eliminated in ninth place, receiving $14,705.

Marco Johnson Eliminated in Eighth Place ($20,424)

Marco Johnson came in for a raise with A Q and Michael Byrne made the call with 8 7. The flop came 9 7 5 and Byrne bet $10,000. Johnson called. Johnson then checked the turn in the dark and Byrne bet $20,000 on the 10. Johnson called all in and the 3 hit on the river. Byrne made the spade flush on the turn and Marco Johnson was the eighth-place finisher, receiving $20,424 for his efforts.

Michael Byrne Eliminated in Seventh Place ($27,777)

Vivek Rajkumar raised the pot with 10 10 and Michael Byrne reraised with 7 7. Shawn Keller called two bets cold with A K and Rajkumar three-bet the pot. Byrne called all in and Keller called the raise behind him. The flop came K J 3 and Keller bet. Rajkumar called. The turn brought the Q, and once again Keller bet and Rajkumar made the call. The river brought the 6 and Keller bet out, but this time Rajkumar let it go. Keller won both the side and the main pot, eliminating Michael Byrne in seventh place ($27,777).

Vivek Rajkumar Eliminated in Sixth Place ($36,763)

Vivek Rajkumar raised the pot with A 7 and received a call from Brandon Wong with 8 6. The flop came 8 5 3 and Wong checked to Rajkumar, who bet out. Wong check-raised the flop and Rajkumar made the call. The turn brought the Q and Wong bet out first this time. Rajkumar reraised all in and Wong quickly called. The river brought the 8. This was no help to Rajkumar, who was eliminated in sixth place ($36,763).

Matthew Kelly Eliminated in Fifth place ($46,567)

It was a battle of the short stacks when Alexander Borteh came in for a raise and Matthew Kelly reraised. Borteh called and the flop came K Q 10. Kelly bet, Borteh called, and the turn brought the Q. Out of options and virtually out of chips, Kelly shoved all in with 7 7 when Borteh called with Q 9. The river brought the 6, no help to Kelly, and he was eliminated in fifth place. He earned $46,567 for his efforts.

David Pham Eliminated in Fourth Place ($62,906)

David Pham caught a few cards during today's final table but never seemed to have any customers. His final hand saw him getting it in with K Q. He was up against Shawn Keller's Q 9 on a J 9 5 flop. Pham couldn't connect with his outs when the turn and river came 8 8. Pham was the fourth-place finisher and he took home $62,906 for his efforts.

Shawn Keller Eliminated in Third Place ($92,316)

In Keller's final hand, he raised on the button with 10 8. Borteh made the call and the flop came A 8 6. Borteh check-raised Keller, making him think for a while before he reluctantly reraised all in. Borteh called, showing K-8. The turn left Keller drawing dead with the K, and the river gave him too little, too late: the 10. Shawn Keller played well, but was ultimately unable to join his twin brother Thomas "Thunder" Keller amongst the elite bracelet holders. He received $92,316 for his third-place finish.

It was a long way to the finish line, and at one point Borteh and his stack were trailing runner-up Wong by more than four lengths. He had got involved in a few pileups coming out of the gate. Sixhanded, he found himself bringing up the rear, while Wong closed in on the first lap. Borteh watched patiently as the blinds increased and the rest of the field began to fall off. He had been pacing himself from the short stack, and when an overly-aggressive Wong began to lose stride down the last stretch, Borteh took to the outside and eventually ran him down.

After a grueling heads-up battle of small-pot poker, Borteh's overly patient and equally methodical style of play had finally gotten the best of Wong. Down to his last $100,000, Wong got it all in preflop with Q 8. Borteh made the call with K 6, and the flop came 9 9 6. The K on the turn gave Borteh the checkmark and Wong was drawing dead to the river.

Wong ran a good race and placed second, earning $135,615, but it was Borteh who took the victory lap. It was quite an impressive feat for Borteh, seeing as he started the day sitting at the head of the table and then ended the night standing in the winner's circle. He was awarded his first gold bracelet and the $225,483 grand prize.