Nicholas Julia’s fourth-ever tournament cash was a milestone for the Arizona native as it resulted in his first World Series of Poker bracelet.
Julia defeated a stacked final table that featured high-stakes pros Justin Liberto, Aditya Prasetyo, and four-time bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi in the $2,500 nine-game six-max event. Julia defeated Kristan Lord heads-up to top the 319-entry field and earn $168,608 for his efforts. Lord netted $104,210 for his runner-up finish.
Along with his first six-figure score and the hardware, Julia scored 720 points in the Card Player Player of the Year race. It’s his first POY-qualifying cash this year.
Based on his tournament resume, Julia doesn’t appear to play many tournaments outside of the WSOP, with three of his four career scores coming at the world’s largest tournament series. Before his victory in the early hours of Sunday morning, his entire tournament resume consisted of a 45th-place finish in a $1,500 no-limit hold’em at the 2012 WSOP, a 34th-place in the $2,500 mixed triple draw at the 2018 series, and an in-the-money finish in a $240 no-limit hold’em turbo at the 2017 Aria Fall Poker Classic.
The third and final day kicked off with 17 players vying for the title and was trimmed to the seven-handed unofficial final table after about four hours of play with the eventual champion second in chips behind Liberto, who was seeking his second WSOP bracelet.
In a massive cooler, however, Julia found himself sitting at the top of the leaderboard and at the final table after knocking out a pair of players, including Mizrachi.
In no-limit hold’em, on a flop of 754, Kenny Hsiung, Mizrachi, and Julia all got their chips in the middle. Hsiung tabled 44, Mizrachi showed 77, and Julia turned over 86. Julia had both of his opponents covered and was in tremendous shape with the nut straight against two different sets, making it less likely the board would pair.
When the turn and river failed to give either player a full house or quads, Julia moved into the chip lead and seemingly never looked back. Since Hsiung was the player with the shorter of the two stacks, he was credited with a seventh-place finish and Mizrachi earned sixth-place money.
After the double knockout, Julia and Liberto were sitting atop the counts, but Julia lost a couple of pots to Lord and Prasetyo doubled through Liberto to give Lord the chip lead five-handed and knock Liberto and Julia to second and third and chips.
Lord extended his lead by eliminating Robert McLaughlin in fifth when they were all in preflop in no-limit hold’em with McLaughlin’s 99 trailing Lord’s KK. The board ran out clean for Lord, which sent McLaughlin home in fifth.
Julia regained the chip lead after winning a seven card stud pot off Liberto and then eliminated Prasetyo in fourth. Prasetyo committed the last of his chips to the pot on sixth street in seven card stud eight-or-better, but Julia tabled nines full of kings, which had Prasetyo drawing dead to the river.
Liberto was the short stack of the table at the outset of three-handed play. Although he managed to hang around and score a few double-ups, he never carried any meaningful momentum forward. He was eventually eliminated by Lord in 2-7 triple draw.
The Maryland native got all his chips in the middle after the second draw. Lord stood pat and Liberto took one. Liberto made an 8-7-5-3-2 but was notched by Lord’s 8-6-5-4-2. Despite winning the pot, Lord still started heads-up play at a nearly 2-to-1 chip disadvantage against Julia.
Over the rest of the level, Lord nearly drew even with Julia, but several stud pots going Julia’s way re-established an even bigger chip lead than he previously held.
In the lowball version of stud, razz, Lord committed the last of his stack on third street with 7-8/10 against Julia’s 2-6/A. Julia made an 8-6 low on fifth while Lord hit two paint cards which left Lord drawing dead before by sixth street.
Like Julia, the six-figure score was Lord’s career-best, just barely besting a third-place finish in the $1,500 HORSE at the 2014 WSOP for $96,894.
Final Table Results:
Photo Credit: WSOP/Rachel Kay Miller