Did you ever make a terrible mistake and immediately realized it, but knew there was nothing you could do about it, only to have something wonderful come out of it? Yeah, me neither… but that’s exactly what happened to American poker pro Christian Pham, the winner of the 2015 WSOP $1,500 No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Event #23.
Last Monday, the 40 year old resident of St. Paul, Minnesota stepped up to the registration booth at the Rio Las Vegas and slapped $1,500 onto the counter. His intent was to register for the $1,500 Limit Holdem tournament that was scheduled to start the next day. However, unbeknownst to Pham, he had rattled off the wrong event number, inadvertently signing up for that day’s $1,500 NL Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball event.
Low and behold, Christian found himself immediately seated at the poker tables to take part in a poker variant he had never played before. In fact, as Pham told the press after he’d won the tournament, “They had started dealing already, so I couldn’t do anything. If they had not started dealing, I would have told the floorman and asked to be unregistered.”
As fate would have it, Pham had made the most delightful mistake of his life. He played slow at first to get a feel for the lowball variant’s rules, and before he knew it, he was playing like a seasoned pro.
Christian Pham Enters Day 2 Way On Top
On Day 2, Christian Pham returned with an enormous chip lead, hacing already outlasted all but 28 of the 219 field. Before long, he found himself seated at the official final table of seven, alongside some phenomenal fellow poker pros like Huck Seed and Mike Leah.
Not long into the final table, Christian Pham took charge by eliminating Mike Leah (7th, $8,381) and Aleksandr Denisov (6th, $11,385) in the same hand. Matthew Smith succeeded in sending the 5x WSOP bracelet winner Huck Seed (5th, $15,852) to the rails. He was followed out the door moments later by Andrey Zhigalov (4th, $22,634) at the hands of Daniel Ospina.
The final three reconvened on the 3rd day of action, where it took 39 minutes for Ospina to take care of the day’s returning low stack, Matthew Smith. Heads-up play began Daniel Ospina and Christian Pham, with the Vietnamese-born poker pro holding a dominant lead in the chips.
The two went back and forth for a little over two hours before Pham claimed the last of Ospina’s stack; something that seemed to be growing smaller with each passing hand.
On what would become the final hand of 2015 WSOP $1,500 NL 2-7 Draw Lowball Event #23, Pham shipped his stack from the button. With only about 110,000 chips remaining, Ospina made the call before accepting two cards on the draw. Pham took just one card.
Christian Pham: Jx 8x 3x 2x
Daniel Ospina: 6x 4x 2x
“Yes, made it” exhaled Pham as he slowly tabled his newly drawn 6x, giving him a successful J-8 Low.
Ospina rolls over his first card only to discover his fate had already been sealed with a Kx. The final Ax was no help, of course, leaving him to receive the 2nd place prize of $50,260. For Christian Pham, it meant 1st place, $81,314 in cash and his first WSOP gold bracelet.
While commenting on his victory, an elated Christian Pham said, “We don’t have this game in Minnesota. I learned the game at the table. I was figuring out what to do as I went along, and I also got lots of good cards. That helped, too.”
To the surprise of no one, Pham professed, “Now, I love this game!”