Michael ‘stiltwalk’ Mercaldo is the latest player to earn their first World Series of Poker gold bracelet during the 2021 WSOP Online series. Mercaldo defeated a field of 888 total entries in the $777 buy-in ‘Lucky 7’s’ no-limit hold’em event, securing the hardware and the first-place prize of $123,574 for the win.
This was the largest score of Mercaldo’s career. The Hoboken, New Jersey resident’s previous top payday came when he finished second in a $550 buy-in event during the 2009 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza III series for $46,455.
The top 126 finishers made the money in this event, with plenty of big names making deep runs, including six-time bracelet winner Daniel ‘DNegs’ Negreanu (66th – $1,616), bracelet winner Daniel ‘centrfieldr’ Lupo (56th – $1,803), Jamie ‘DanBilzerian’ Kerstetter (52nd – $2,113), WPT champion Ema ‘Momma_says’ Zajmovic (35th – $2,859), Jim ‘BOCARATONE’ Collopy (18th – $4,227), and Dylan ‘PokerNpizza’ Hortin (11th – $6,651).
The final table began with James ‘biggs2424’ Anderson in the lead and Mercaldo in third chip position. Krista ‘Pollux’ Gifford was the first to fall, with her top pair running into the top two pair of Anderson. Gifford earned $11,189 for her eighth-place finsih.
Jake ‘nattydaddy24’ Hernandez knocked out Paul ‘presicion’ Zappulla in seventh place ($14,856) to narrow the field to six. Despite that win, a preflop cooler resulted in Hernandez being the next player to hit the rail. Hernandez got all-in preflop with pocket jacks, only to run into the pocket kings of Anderson. A king-high flop only made matters worse for Hernandez, who was drawing dead by the turn. He took home $20,016 for his sixth-place showing.
Ryan ‘Protential’ Laplante’s pursuit of his second WSOP gold bracelet came up just short this time around. The 2016 WSOP pot-limit Omaha $565 buy-in event winner got all-in with QJ racing against the pocket nines of Justin ‘MadTitan’ Turner. Laplante’s hand didn’t find any help from the board and he was eliminated in fifth place ($27,350).
Angel ‘ChromeKing’ Lopez got all-in with pocket sixes against the Q-8 of Turner, who flopped an eight to take the lead. Lopez was unable to come from behind on the turn or river and was sent to the virtual rail with $37,980.
Despite earning the past two knockouts, Turner fell to the bottom of the chip counts during three-handed action. He ended up three-bet jamming KJ from the small blind, only to have Mercaldo call with AA. The pocket aces held up and Turner was knocked out in third place $53,458.
Mercaldo took a slight lead into heads-up play against Anderson. The decisive hand of the match began with Anderson raising to 320,000 on the button with 97. Mercaldo called from the big blind holding 108. The flop came down J97, giving Mercaldo a straight and Anderson two pair. Mercaldo check-called a bet of 299,999. The turn brought the A and Mercaldo checked again. Anderson moved all-in for 1,928,471 and Mercaldo made the call with his jack-high straight. The river was the K, locking up the pot and the title for Mercaldo. Anderson was awarded $76,395 for his second-place finish.
Here is a look at the payouts awarded at the final table:
|1||Michael ‘stiltwalk’ Mercaldo||$123,574|
|2||James ‘biggs2424’ Anderson||$76,395|
|3||Justin ‘MadTitan’ Turner||$53,458|
|4||Angel ‘ChromeKing’ Lopez||$37,980|
|5||Ryan ‘Protential’ Laplante||$27,350|
|6||Jake ‘nattydaddy24’ Hernandez||$20,016|
|7||Paul ‘presicion’ Zappulla||$14,856|
|8||Krista ‘Pollux’ Gifford||$11,189|
Mercaldo photo via Parx poker blog.