Cole Ferraro navigated his way through a field of 1,385 entries to make the final two players in the 2021 World Series of Poker $1,000 buy-in no-limit freezeout event. He ultimately fell just short of securing his first bracelet, finishing second to earn $123,142. Less than three weeks after that close call, Ferraro managed to make it through an even larger field of 3,916 entries and back to heads-up play with a bracelet on the line. This time around, Ferraro came out on top, defeating Sami Rustom heads-up to secure the hardware and the top prize of $252,491 in the $600 buy-in no-limit hold’em Deepstack championship event.
This was the first year that 22-year-old Ferraro was able to compete in a live and in-person WSOP, having come of age during the live poker shutdown of 2020. The victory increased his lifetime earnings to $397,441, with his only two six-figure scores being the deep runs he made at this year’s series.
In addition to the tile and the money, Ferraro also earned 660 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. With 1,489 total points, he now sits in 105th place in the 2021 POY race sponsored by Global Poker.
The final day of this event began with 40 players remaining, and plenty of big names still in contention including two-time bracelet winner and Card Player Publisher Barry Shulman (26th – $8,633), two-time bracelet winner Mark Seif (25th – $8,633), and Ping Liu (19th – $8,633).
Ferraro started the day towards the bottom of the leaderboard, but battled his way into second place by the time the final table was set. A couple of preflop pair-over-pair coolers eliminated Ronald Slucker (9th – $25,359) and Rubin Chappell (8th – $32,169) to narrow the field to seven. Xiangdong Huang lost a preflop race to the pocket sixes of Richard Dixon to finish seventh ($41,108).
Edgardo Rosario was the next to fall, with his A-Q losing to the A-6 suited of Dixon after all the chips went in preflop. Rosario took home $52,914 as the sixth-place finisher.
Despite earning the two previous knockouts, Dixon was ultimately sent to the rail in fifth place. He got all-in with top pair and an ace kicker, but was up against the overpair of kings for Ferraro. Dixon was unable to come from behind and settled for $68,604.
Accomplished Belgian poker pro Bart Lybaert’s run in this event came to an end when he made a multi-street calldown with flopped middle pair, only to be shown pocket aces by a surging Ferraro. Bart Lybaert earned $89,587 to bring his career tournament earnings to just shy of $2.9 million.
Sami Rustom regained the lead by knocking Sean Dunleavy out in third place ($117,822). Dunleavy shoved on the river with trip jacks and a king kicker, but ran into the backdoor flush of Rustom to set the stage for the heads-up showdown.
Rustom held 70,690,000 to the 49,000,000 of Ferraro to start. The shorter stack closed the gap by picking off a bluff from Rustom with pocket nines on a ten-high board. He then overtook the lead by winning a big pot with a broadway straight. Not long after he moved ahead, Ferraro was able to close out the title thanks to a preflop battle of pocket pairs. Rustum limped in from the button for 800,000 and Ferraro raised to 6,000,000. Rustom moved all-in with 44 and Ferraro made the call with 1010. The board ran out 952510 and Ferraro improved to tens full to secure the pot and the title. Rustom earned $156,056 as the runner-up finisher.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
Winner photo credit: WSOP / Rachel Kay Miller.