For the last month now, the 2016 World Series of Poker has been underway in Las Vegas, Nevada. A total of 45 coveted gold bracelets have been awarded thus far, and I’m proud to say that the 39th is coming home to Australia, thanks to the esteemed efforts of Melbourne’s native poker pro, Martin Kozlov.
Martin was one of 294 entrants who posted the 5-figure buy-in to 2016 WSOP Event #39: $10k 6-Handed No-Limit Holdem Championship. After three grueling days and tiresome nights, Kozlov emerged victorious at the final table, highlighted on the ESPN Main Stage, earning his first WSOP bracelet and USD $665,709 (AUD $896,186).
This was by far the largest live cash of the Australian poker pro’s decade-long career. Prior to his huge win Saturday night, just 20 minutes before the clock struck midnight, Martin Kozlov’s claim to fame was a 1st place routing of the 2010 ANZPT II Main Event in Melbourne, worth him AUD $195,700. Four years later, he claimed AUD $171,080 for finishing 1st in the 2014 Sydney Championship Main Event.
His lifetime career live poker winnings now total USD $1,569,626, put him in the 16th position on Australia’s All-Time Money List, currently led by 2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem ($12,135,724).
Martin Kozlov Wins WSOP Bracelet, photo David Amato WSOP.com
Martin Kozlov’s Road to Victory
Martin got his start in college playing for minimal stakes. Before long, his success led him to believe he may be able to make a living from the game. 10 years later, that estimation has been proven correct.
29 year old Kozlov headed into the final table on Saturday with a tough field of competition surrounding him. Four of his five opponents were already WSOP bracelet holders – 2000 WSOP Championship Chris Ferguson (5), Davidi Katai (3), Justin Bonomo (1) and Nick Petrangelo (1).
First out was the UK’s Jack Salter who ran into a bad beat on a three way pot, leaving him with the 6th place cash of $90,783.
American Nick Petrangelo was next the hit the rails. His admirable pocket Aces ran into trouble when Kozlov fired back pre-flop holding pocket Queens. Another Queen came on the flop, but no help for the American led to his elimination in 5th, worth $127,622.
Chris Ferguson, who’s been surrounded by cameras and controversy since returning to the poker tables for the first time in over five years, found himself low-stacked from the beginning of his first final table appearance since 2000. His luck ran out about 3 hours in, sending him out in 4th for $183,989 – his 6th cash thus far at the 2016 WSOP.
Double Elimination For The Win
That brought up three-way action between Martin Kozlov, Justin Bonomo and Davidi Katai. Leading into the final hand of play, Bonomo was the low stack at the table; a fate he’d suffered throughout much of the finale. Belgian poker phenom Davidi Katai, who’d spent a good portion of Day 3 in possession of the chip lead, was now in second.
Kozlov raised 250k from the button, inciting a 2.92mm all-in from Bonomo in the small blind. Katai pushed over the top for 3.85mm, getting the call from Kozlov, who had more than enough to cover them both. All three tabled pocket pairs.
Bonomo: 9♥ 9♣
Katai: 6♦ 6♠
Kozlov: Q♣ Q♦
As soon as the flop came down, everyone knew it was over: Q♠ Q♥ 7♠
With his opponents drawing dead, the K♠ turn and 8♦ river were played out with little fanfare.
Because Katai had more chips at the start of the hand, he collected the 2nd place prize of $411,441, while Bonomo impressively notched his 37th cash in a WSOP event, pocketing $271,856.
The Australian poker pro, Kozlov, scooped the WSOP bracelet and $665,709, plus the title of 2016 WSOP $10k 6-Max NLHE Champion.