Eli Elezra defeated a field of 68 entries to win the 2021 U.S. Poker Open $10,000 buy-in eight-game mix event. The four-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner earned $183,600 after overcoming a final table that included several other multiple-bracelet winners like Card Player columnist Steve Zolotow (a two-time bracelet winner) and Daniel Negreanu (a six-time bracelet winner).
The 60-year-old poker pro and businessman, who was born in Israel but now resides in Las Vegas, now has more than $3.9 million in lifetime live tournament earnings to his name. This was Elezra’s first live score since the summer of 2019.
In addition to the title and the money, he was also awarded 360 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win.
The 184 USPO rankings points he earned as the champion of this event were enough to see him climb into seventh place on the series leaderboard. He also earned the same amount of points for the PokerGO Tour standings.
The second and final day of this event began with seven players remaining, with WSOP bracelet winner and World Poker Tour main event winner David ‘ODB’ Baker in the lead and Elezra in second place. Baker lost a preflop coinflip to Daniel Negreanu in the early going to relinquish the lead, and then lost a massive hand to Zolotow to end up finishing seventh just a few hands into the day. Baker was all-in and at risk with AA against the AK of Zolotow. The board ran out 1083JQ and Zolotow made a backdoor nut flush to send Baker to the rail with $34,000.
Elezra busted bracelet winner Nick Guagenti in sixth place ($40,800) to keep pace with Zolotow. Swedish mixed-game star Erik Sagstrom was the next to fall, running an overpaid and flush draw into the two pair of Negreanu in Omaha eight-or-better. Sagstrom failed to improve and was knocked out in fifth place ($54,400).
Richard Sklar had entered the final day as the clear short stack, but managed to outlast several opponents to make the final four. His run came to an end when his pocket eights lost a flip against the AJ of Negreanu, who flopped a jack to take a lead that he never relinquished. Sklar cashed for $68,000 as the fourth-place finisher.
The final three players, with 12 WSOP bracelets between them, battled it out for around 45 minutes before the next elimination took place during a round of pot-limit Omaha. With blinds of 40,000-80,000, Elezra raised to 240,000 from the small blind with KQJ9 and Negreanu defended his big blind with A755. The flop came out 833 and Elezra bet enough to put Negreanu all-in for his last 425,000. Negreanu made the call and had the was ahead for the time being. The 7 on turn kept Negreanu in the lead, but the Q on the river gave the pot to Elezra. Negreanu was awarded $88,400 for his third-place showing.
Zolotow began heads-up play with 4,795,000 to Elezra’s 3,700,000. The two battled for over an hour, with Elezra overtaking the lead early on and essentially never looking back. The final hand came down while playing seven-card stud eight-or-better. Zolotow got all-in on fifth street with a split pair of fives against the Elezra’s four low cards and backdoor flush possibilities. Elezra made a pair of sevens on sixth street to take the lead in the hand. Neither player improved on seventh street and Elezra scooped the pot to secure the title.
Zolotow earned $136,000 and 136 USPO rankings points as the runner-up finisher. This was his third cash of the series, having placed fifth in the kickoff event for $76,000 and fourth in event no. 3 for another $77,000. With $289,000 in earnings so far and 289 total points, Zolotow now sits in second place in the USPO series standings, behind only Joe McKeehen ($302,200 in earnings, 302 rankings points). The eventual winner of the USPO rankings race will be awarded $50,000 in added prize money and the new Golden Eagle Trophy.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:
|Place||Player||Payout||POY Points||PokerGO Tour|
Photo credits: PokerGO.