In what many will call a catastrophic move, Hungary’s András Koroknai has finished the main event of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in sixth place, pocketing USD 1,640,461 (EUR 1.26 million). This marks the best WSOP performance by a Hungarian and the third-biggest poker win for the country, with Koroknai falling short of himself (USD 1.8 million) and Dénes Kaló (USD 2.51 million).
In mid-July the 6,598 entrants of the no-limit event – creating a prize pool of USD 62,021,200 – played down to the final table and created the “November Nine”, the final nine players, who this time met again for a Halloween showdown due to the US presidential election on Tuesday.
Koroknai started the final table second in chips and played rather passively for the first part of the day, losing chips and position due to the increasing blinds. He eventually managed to climb back to third place, which is when disaster struck.
Following a raise and a re-raise, the Hungarian four-bet the pot from the big blind only to see another re-raise from world champion-to-be Greg Merson, one of only two players with more chips than him. Koroknai shoved all-in and received an instant call from the suited Ace-King of Merson. With the 30-year-old IT specialist and Debrecen native showing an off-suit King-Queen the only help would have been a Queen, which failed to arrive.
In his first interview after the elimination Koroknai said he thought Merson was playing loose and that King-Queen could be good. “In hindsight it may have been a little irresponsible but it felt like the right decision at the time,” he said. “It was an amazing experience. I will definitely be back and win it next time.”
The Hungarian started playing poker to get over a relationship break-up and a motorcycle accident, and turned pro only in 2009.
His solace – in addition to the money – could be that he was eliminated by the world champion (Merson won USD 8,531,853) and a statistic unparalleled in the history of major poker tournaments: during the 400 hands of the two-day finale Ace-King was dealt 23 times and “Big Slick” not only beat the holdings of Koroknai but actually won every time.