Dealer's Choice GOAT Adam Friedman defeats WSOP GOAT Phil Hellmuth to earn 4th bracelet

Adam Friedman Event 7 Day 1 (Image: Haley Hintze)
Dave Consolazio Poker Writer Photo
Dave Consolazio
Posted on: October 21, 2021 22:26 PDT

Adam Friedman won the 2018 WSOP $10,000 Dealer’s Choice Championship over a field of 111 players for his second career World Series of Poker gold bracelet and $293,275. Friedman defended his championship with another win in this event in 2019, this time defeating a field of 122 players to earn his third bracelet and a $312,417 top prize. And in an unprecedented feat in the modern poker era, Friedman won the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice Championship for a third straight time early Thursday morning.

The 2021 WSOP Event #36 Dealer’s Choice Championship attracted 93 runners to generate a total prize pool of $867,225. Friedman may have had a smaller field to deal with this year than he did in 2018 and 2019 en route to his fourth bracelet and a $248,350 score, but this was without question the most stacked final table he has had to overcome.

Eight of the final 10 players remaining in this tournament were former bracelet winners: one-time winners Joao Vieira, Andrew Kelsall and Carol Fuchs, two-time winner Mike Gorodinsky, four-time winner Mike Matusow, six-time winner Daniel Negreanu and 16-time winner Phil Hellmuth. The two non-bracelet winners in the top 10, Matt Glantz and Jake Schwartz, have over $10 million in live tournament earnings between them.

Heads up against Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth was looking to make history with his 17th career WSOP bracelet and his second in one week. Adam Friedman was looking to make history by winning this event three straight times. The stakes couldn’t be much higher and the action couldn’t be much wilder with 20 different game variations at each player’s disposal.

Hellmuth entered heads-up play with a 3.5 million to 2.1 million chip advantage and at one point led with 4.2 million chips in play to Friedman’s 1.6 million. But after a grueling two-and-a-half hour battle, Friedman emerged victorious and handed Hellmuth a disappointing runner-up finish.

A modern day Bill Boyd

Bill Boyd is the only poker player in WSOP history to win a bracelet without any competition. Boyd won the $1,000 Limit Five Card Stud event over a field of 10 players in 1971, and then won it again against only one opponent with the buy-in raised to $10,000 in 1972. In 1973, no one was willing to take on Bill Boyd for $10,000 in his specialty game, so Boyd was awarded the victory, uncontested.

The Limit Five Card Stud buy-in was reduced to $5,000 in 1974 and the tournament drew eight players. Boyd won again. That was the last time that Limit Five Card Stud was ever played at the WSOP. "I'd rather catch frost on my winter peaches than play stud with Bill Boyd," Amarillo Slim once said.

The WSOP probably isn’t going to outright cancel the Dealer’s Choice event due to Friedman’s dominance like they did to Boyd’s stud game back in 1974. But there have to be a whole bunch of Dealer’s Choice players sharing Amarillo Slim’s sentiments in regards to playing this tournament with Adam Friedman.

Final Table Payouts

1. Adam Friedman: $248,350
2. Phil Hellmuth: $153,493
3. Jake Schwartz: $107,861
4. Carol Fuchs: $77,437
5. Mike Matusow: $56,826
6. Andrew Kelsall: $42,646
7. Matt Glantz: $32,746
8. Mike Gorodinsky: $25,741
9. Daniel Negreanu: $25,741

Featured Image Credit: Haley Hintze