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Adam Friedman Wins Third Consecutive World Series of Poker $10,000 Dealer's Choice Title, Denies Phil Hellmuth No. 17

Ohio Native Becomes First Ever Back-To-Back-To-Back WSOP Event Champion


Adam Friedman wrote his name in the poker history books in the early morning hours of Thursday, Oct. 21. The 39-year-old defeated all-time World Series of Poker title leader Phil Hellmuth heads-up to win the $10,000 buy-in Dealer’s Choice championship for the third consecutive series.

With a winning 9-6 badugi hand, Friedman took down the final pot of the tournament to deny Hellmuth his record-furthering 17th gold bracelet and secure his fourth overall. Friedman now has the distinction of being the first-ever back-to-back-to-back winner of a tournament at the WSOP in its 52-year history.

Friedman first won this event in the summer of 2018. He successfully defended his title in 2019 and was set to try for the threepeat in 2020, but the in-person WSOP was postponed and eventually canceled due to the live poker shutdown that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. The WSOP returned to Las Vegas this year, but began later in the fall rather than the summer.

“I’ve waited 28 months to play this tournament, with the pandemic and the delay this year,” Friedman said moments after achieving his historic victory. “All I kept saying was, ‘just get me to day 2, I just want a chance.’ I don’t need to win this tournament. I’ve got nothing to prove. I’ve got literally nothing to prove. It was just a pure challenge, to see if I could do it.”

“This event is so much different from every other $10,000 event [at the series],” said the Indiana University graduate, who also finished fifth in the Dealer’s Choice event 2015. “People that play this tournament, they want to play it again and again. It’s so addicting. There are so many games that we don’t usually get to play in tournaments. There are so many different thought processes and strategies that don’t exist in any other event. You have to be thinking about so many things from the moment you sit down on day 1, all the way through the end. It’s just such a unique tournament.”

Hellmuth Heads-Up For Another BraceletIf anybody was going to deny Friedman his slice of history, it was going to be Hellmuth. The Poker Brat the hottest player at the series, with five final tables through the first three weeks, and he was coming off of winning his record 16th title just a few days prior.

Furthermore, the last time a player got this close to a three-peat at the WSOP, it was Hellmuth who stopped him. Johnny Chan won the 1987 and 1988 main events, and found himself heads-up for the 1989 title as well, before running into a 24-year-old Hellmuth who would not be denied.

(Note: Michael Mizrachi has won the same event three times, taking down the $50,000 Players Championship in 2010, 2012, and 2018. Thang Luu finished second in the 2007 Omaha eight-or-better event, before winning it in 2008 and 2009.)

“I simply out-carded Phil. He played great the entire time I played with him,” Friedman admitted. “I picked off a couple of his bluffs in spots where I was pretty sure he was bluffing.”

This is also not the first time that Friedman has achieved a three-peat on the live tournament circuit. In 2006, he won the Midwest Regional Poker Championships main event in Indiana. He skipped it in 2007, and then he won it again in both 2008 and 2009.

The Gahanna, Ohio native banked $248,350 for the win, increasing his career tournament earnings to more than $3.3 million. He also earned 540 Card Player Player of the Year points. This event awarded PokerGO Tour ranking points as well. The 248 points he earned were enough to put him in 77th place in the tour’s overall standings.

Had Friedman not won, there was still a multitude of interesting storylines to watch at the final table. Not only was Hellmuth going for back-to-back bracelets and no. 17 overall, but there was also Jake Schwartz, who had finished runner-up to Hellmuth and was undoubtedly looking for some revenge.

Of the ten players to start the final day, eight were bracelet winners and five had multiple titles at the series under their belts. Six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu hit the rail in ninth place ($25,741), and two-time WSOP winner Mike Gorodinsky (8th – $25,741) was eliminated set up the unofficial final table of seven.

Friedman and Schwartz chopped a badacey pot to eliminate Matt Glantz in seventh place ($32,746). The Philadelphia resident now has 15 final tables at the WSOP, but is still looking for his first bracelet.

Bracelet winner Andrew Kelsall was the next to fall. He lost two key razz pots to hit the rail, with his nine low bested by an eight low for Mike Matusow in his final hand. Kelsall earned $42,646 for his sixth-place showing. This was his second final table of the series, having finished runner-up in the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice event as well.

Despite earning that knockout, Matusow was still among the shorter stacks at the table. he got the last of his chips in playing badugi. Hellmuth made an 8Spade Suit3Diamond Suit2Heart SuitAClub Suit after two draws. Matusow was drawing live with his 7Spade Suit4Club SuitAHeart Suit, but was unable to hit a low diamond and was eliminated in fifth place. The four-time bracelet winner took home $56,826.

2015 $1,500 buy-in Dealer’s Choice winner Carol Fuchs’ run in this event came to an end while playing pot-limit triple draw deuce-to-seven lowball. Fuchs made a 9-8, but was up against a 7-6 low for Friedman. She hit the rail in fourth place with $77,437 in prize money, which is the third largest score of her poker career.

Jake Schwartz chooses a game for the final three

Friedman entered three-handed play as the shortest stack. Hellmuth held the lead early on and extended it further by busting Schwartz in third place ($107,861). Schwartz was at his third final table of the year, having finished third in the $1,000 Flip & Go and second in the $1,500 deuce-to-seven lowball won by Hellmuth just a few days earlier. Schwartz was knocked out in badacey, with his J-10 low and J-9 badugi scooped by Hellmuth’s 10-7 low and badugi.

With that, Hellmuth took roughly a 2:1 lead into heads-up play with Friedman. The two battled it out for more than two hours. Friedman crawled his way into the lead midway through, extending his advantage with a few big calls. He picked off a bluff from Hellmuth in no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw with an A-J low, beating Hellmuth’s paired hand.

On the final hand, Hellmuth raised on the button and Friedman made it three bets to go. Hellmuth four-bet all in and Friedman called. Both players stayed pat for all three possible draws, and Friedman rolled over 9Heart Suit6Spade Suit5Club Suit2Diamond Suit for a nine badugi. The Poker Hall of Famer mucked, earning $153,493 for his fifth final-table finish of the series, moving into the lead in the WSOP POY race.

“I’m completely spent/completely exhausted. In 21 days I made 5 final tables—6th 5th 4th 2nd 1st—and 18th in five different games: career defining stuff. I’m super disappointed that I couldn’t close the deal tonight, 4.2M to his 1.3M. I NEED to take 48 hrs off and rest #POSITiVITY,” said Hellmuth in a tweet shortly after the tournament ended.

In addition to his 16 bracelets, Hellmuth has now finished second at the WSOP a record 12 times.

Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points PokerGO
1 Adam Friedman $248,350 540 248
2 Phil Hellmuth $153,493 450 153
3 Jake Schwartz $107,861 360 108
4 Carol Fuchs $77,437 270 77
5 Mike Matusow $56,826 225 57
6 Andrew Kelsall $42,646 180 43

Visit the 2021 World Series of Poker page for the latest news, event winners, and interviews.