The $888 buy-in Crazy Eights event at the 2019 World Series of Poker drew a massive field of 10,185 players, which represented more than an 18 percent increase from 2018’s field of 8,598. The increase in tournament added more than seven figures to the overall prize pool, which topped out at $8,139,852.
After four days of action, the title went to California poker pro and former fast-food worker Rick Alvarado, who rode some late good fortune to his first career bracelet and the huge $888,888 first-place prize.
Alvarado, who at one point in his poker career was forced to take a job at In-N-Out after Black Friday, even had his mom on the sidelines for the occasion.
“She said she was running through the airport to catch it, and then my friend went and picked her up from [the airport], not more than 20 or 30 minutes before I won the bracelet,” Alvarado told WSOP reporters. “She got here with five minutes to spare. She saw maybe three hands. I’m really happy that she was here in time.”
The tournament ended up living up to it’s name with some crazy runouts, the majority of which benefited Alvarado. During three-handed play, his aggression nearly cost him his touranment life, running QSpade Suit JSpade Suit into the pocket kings of Thomas Drivas. Instead the board brought him a flush, and a big chip lead going into heads-up play.
“Oh, my God!” exclaimed Alvarado when reporters brought up the hand. “I’m not going to live that one down. It was quite a misstep that turned out to be a great suckout.”
Alvarado then faced off against two-time WSOP bracelet winner Mark Radoja. The Canadian poker pro had previously won the 2011 $5,000 shootout, and the 2013 $10,000 heads-up event. He also finished runner-up in a $1,500 six-max no-limit hold’em event in 2012.
Radoja tried to mount a comeback, but ultimately his AHeart Suit 10Diamond Suit failed to hold against Alvarado’s ADiamond Suit 4Diamond Suit when a four hit the river. He pocketed $548,888 for his runner-up performance, the biggest score of his career.
In addition to the money, Alvarado also earned 720 Card Player Player of the Year points for his win. The POY is sponsored by Global Poker.
Other notables who made a deep run in the event included Ryan Leng (17th), Artem Metalidi (21st), Martijn Gerrits (37th), Leo Margets (38th), Scott Davies (48th), Allyn Shulman (56th), Andrew Brokos (60th), Matt Matros (69th), Jesse Sylvia (84th), Kevin Calenzo (88th), and Paul Hoefer (90th).
$888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold’em Final Table Results:
|1||Rick Alvarado||United States||$888,888|
|3||Thomas Drivas||United States||$409,888|
|10||Keun Kwak||United States||$82,130|