"This is the best thing that has ever happened to me."
Those were the words out of Brandon Paster's mouth shortly after winning his first bracelet in Event #37 of the 2014 World Series of Poker. Paster ended Day 1 with the chip lead and after Day 2 he was second in chips, a mere 16,000 chips behind the eventual runner-up, bracelet winner Marcel Vonk.
When play started today, 11 players had dreams of winning a bracelet and the $264,400 first-place prize that went along with it. It would start off slow, with only a few eliminations in the first six hours of play, but then the chips started flying and Paster would use aggressive play and big hands to emerge victorious.
To ultimately get to that point, Paster would have to outlast a tough lineup that included AP Phahurat (11th - $14,908), Galen Hall (9th - $18,837), Kevin Saul (8th - $24,111), and PokerStars Team Online Pro Gabriel Nassif (3rd - $102,373).
When asked about the tough lineup, Paster said "I was gifted with the best situation possible. All the aggressive players were on my right. I was very comfortable the whole time. To be honest, it didn't feel like a WSOP final table."
The first big hand for Paster would come when he eliminated the very formidable Galen Hall when Hall's wrap draw was unable to hit and Paster hit a draw of his own by hitting the nut flush on the river. Gabriel Nassif would give Paster some trouble with well-timed raises and Paster would double up Nassif several times before he was finally able to knock him out in third place. The hand that would do the deed would see Nassif ahead on a flop with his but Paster's would hit two pair on the turn and that would enough to send the Frenchman to the rail.
Heads up play was over in just three hands and the final hand would see Paster holding to Vonk's . Vonk would flop two pair and for a moment looked as if he would make it a match but the on the river would have him celebrating with his rail and joking "it's no big deal."
A total of 967 entrants would turn up for this event creating a prize pool of $1,305,450 with 117 of those players receiving some compensation for their efforts. Among those cashing were the likes of Erick Lindgren (13th - $11,957), Martins Adeniya (16th - $9,712), Will Durkee (23rd - $7,989), Fabrice Soulier (42nd - $5,639), and Layne Flack (64th - $3,555). Humberto Brenes would also cash, for an amazing eighth time this WSOP, finishing in 102nd place for $2,480.
Plenty would enter the tournament with big dreams only to come up short. Jonathan Little, Chris Moorman, Joe Cada, Barry Greenstein, Dominik Nitsche, Scotty Nguyen, Annette Obrestad, Carlos Mortensen, Keven Stammen, Paul Volpe, David Williams, and Jason Mercier were just a few whose dreams were momentarily crushed.
The over a quarter-million dollars that Paster won was in his own words "my biggest score by a couple hundred thousand dollars." The poker professional told us afterwards that "I'm on cloud 9. This is unreal." Unlike most poker players who would be looking to parlay this success into bigger buy-in tournaments, Paster only has plans on playing one more tournament the rest of the summer (the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha 8 or Better) and then it's off to Amsterdam for a month or two and travel the world. "I got everything I want," he said. "Now it's time to party my face off."
Thank you following along with PokerNews in our continual coverage of the 2014 WSOP. We'll be here until the very end so make sure to check in often for updates on all the exciting poker action.