Rafael Lebron is employed at a car dealership in Puyallup, Washington. The 38-year-old only plays poker a few times a year outside of trips to the World Series of Poker. Despite his limited time at the tables, Lebron has managed to add his name to the elite ranks of players with multiple WSOP bracelets. He achieved this feat by taking down the 2021 WSOP $1,500 seven card stud event, defeating bracelet winner and 2004 main event runner-up David Williams heads-up to secure his second career bracelet and the top prize of $82,262.
“David [Williams] and Phil Ivey were the two people that really got me into poker, along with my best friend Ian Johns,” Lebron told PokerNews reporters after the win. Johns is a three-time bracelet winner who is also based out of Washington State. “Ian and I learned to play together. Then I used to watch David on TV and it really inspired me. It was a dream come true to play him heads up.”
Lebron earned 432 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. It was his first POY-qualified score of the year.
The final day of this event began with Lebron in the lead and just six players remaining with a shot at the title. Nicholas Seiken (6th – $13,766) was the first to fall, running into a pair of aces held by Williams.
Lebron scored the next knockout, making kings and queens by sixth street to leave four-time bracelet winner Shaun Deeb’s buried pair of eights in dire straights. Deeb failed to improve to the winner on seventh street, mucking his unhelpful card and hitting the rail in fifth place ($18,475).
Christina Hill’s run in this event came to an end in fourth place ($25,344). She started with (AJ)Q against the split tens of Lebron. Her last chips got in on sixth street, having added a king on fifth street for another live overcard and a gutshot broadway draw. She failed to improve on seventh, and Lebron made tens up to take down the pot and pull away from the pack.
David Moskowitz made a pair of kings on fourth street to take the lead in a hand against Lebron with most of his stack already in the middle. Lebron improved to a pair of aces on fifth street, while also adding a flush draw. Moskowitz got the last of his chips in on sixth street and was in need of help. Neither player picked anything up on seventh street and Moskovitz was knocked out in third place, earning $35,521 for his deep run.
Lebron took nearly a 4:1 chip lead over Williams into heads-up play. It took less than half an hour for him to convert that advantage into the title. In the final hand Williams got all-in on fourth street. The boards ran out as follows:
Williams hit a flush on the river, only to have Lebron make a full house to lock up the title. Williams earned $50,842 as the runner-up, falling just short of securing his second gold bracelet. His first bracelet win came in this same event, the $1,500 buy-in stud tournament, back in 2006.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
Winner photo credit: WSOP / Hayley Hochstetler.