By Andrew Feldman
The World Series of Poker announced in early 2011 that there would be a $25,000 buy-in heads-up event as part of the 2011 schedule. There was instant intrigue and excitement among the industry and all the hype resulted in an incredible tournament and the crowning of a 22-year-old British champion, Jake Cody. Besides the $851,192 in first-place prize money, Cody picked up a coveted WSOP bracelet after defeating Yevgeniy Timoshenko in the finals. With the victory, he became the third player in poker history to win poker’s “triple crown,” earning titles on the European Poker Tour, the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker.
“It was,” Cody responded when asked if the triple crown was on his mind during the match. “When it got heads-up, it didn’t seem real, … but when I got heads-up, I was like, ‘oh my god.’ I’m one match away from being the youngest triple crown winner ever, the fastest triple crown winner ever. To make history in this one match … .”
Cody’s journey to the bracelet included victories over Brandon Adams, Frank Kassela, Dani Stern, Jonathan Jaffe, Anthony Guetti, Gus Hansen and finally, Timoshenko. For any player to win this bracelet, it would take seven matches against some of the best players in the world.
Cody stopped Hansen’s streak of consecutive heads-up WSOP wins at 12.
The young British pro has been dominating the poker scene for the past year and a half and many expected his run to begin at the 2010 WSOP, but due to interesting circumstances, Cody only played in the main event last year. He was planning on coming to play a set of events a year ago, but after a deer hit his car en route to the airport, he decided he wasn’t going to take the flight. Putting the mishap behind him, he came to the 2011 WSOP with high expectations and grabbed his first WSOP cash, his first bracelet and earned his true introduction to success on American soil in his very first event of the summer.
Throughout the final table, which will be broadcast on ESPN this summer, Cody’s cheering section was filled with chants and cheers of support. Timoshenko had his own group of supporters and the two groups screamed back and forth for more than three hours. It was close to getting out of hand, but both players claimed to enjoy the atmosphere. As Cody’s chip lead grew, his supporters became louder and, with the momentum in his corner, Cody became a bit of a bully and pressured Timoshenko to a decision for his tournament life on almost every hand. After yet another preflop all-in shove by Cody, Timoshenko tanked and finally made the call with A-5. Cody tabled K-9, spiked a king on the flop and finally let go of his quiet, reserved nature and celebrated with his friends.
“I’m happy with how I played,” Timoshenko said. “I really have no regrets, other than losing my all-ins. … The way Jake played, and you can’t blame him, he played very aggressively. He didn’t want to see flops, he just played a lot more preflop poker which, I was kind of, I don’t want to say frustrated by, but I did want to see more flops. I play a lot of heads-up no-limit and that’s kind of what I like to do is see flops and figure things out postflop.”
To take his seat in the finals, Timoshenko had to defeat two of the game’s toughest heads-up specialists, Daniel Cates and Olivier Busquet.
“I really wanted to win [this tournament],” Timoshenko said. “It’s such a prestigious bracelet to win. I wanted to sort of prove myself and my heads-up no-limit skills.”
Timoshenko earned $525,980 for his runner-up finish.
Fans can watch the replay of the finals on ESPN3.com.
Below are the complete results of Event 2 at the 2011 World Series of Poker:
Event 2: Heads-Up World Championship
Prize pool: $3,040,000
Players in the money: 16
1. Jake Cody ($851,192)
2. Yevgeniy Timoshenko ($525,980)
3. Gus Hansen ($283,966)
4. Eric Froehlich ($283,966)
5. Matt Marafioti ($138,852)
6. Anthony Guetti ($138,852)
7. Nikolay Evdakov ($138,852)
8. David Paredes ($138,852)
9. Tom Dwan ($67,436)
10. Steve Billirakis ($67,436)
11. John Duthie ($67,436)
12. Olivier Busquet ($67,436)
13. Richard Lyndaker ($67,436)
14. Kunimaro Kojo ($67,436)
15. Mikhail Smirnov ($67,436)
16. Jonathan Jaffe ($67,436)
Follow Andrew Feldman on Twitter: @espn_poker