Valentino Konakchiev overcomes bluff to win WSOP bracelet

Jeff McMillan
Posted on: June 10, 2023 05:24 PDT

Late night heads up drama ensued on Friday night at the WSOP as Valentino Konakchiev showed incredible resilience to win his first bracelet for $435,924 after topping a field of 1,137 in Event #19: $2,500.

His bracelet is the 11th all time for Bulgaria which is a fairly impressive number for a country of its size of just short of 7 million people. (And not to mention gives them 200 points in the PokerOrg WSOP “Global Battle”).

The final table included an international set of bracelet winners with Niall Farrell, Alexandre Reard and Andreas Korn.

Farrell went out in seventh and Reard in third to deny them a chance at their second bracelets to set up the heads up battle between Korn of Argentina and Konakchiev.

Bluffed off the bracelet winning hand

And this is where things got very interesting. Watching on the stream provided by PokerGO, the heads up battle started off with a bang as just a few hands in Konakchiev was put to the test. He flopped two pair with against Korn’s top pair on a flop with two diamonds, Konakchiev check raised the flop which Korn called. Konakchiev bet again on the turn and was called again.

The river put three diamonds on board with an ace of diamonds. Konakchiev made a down-sized block bet which was then jammed on by Korn who had turned his pair into a bluff.

Konakchiev went into the tank as the stream captured the discomfort on his face with the big decision. If he called he would be the champion. But eventually he folded to give Korn the chip lead. Korn showed the audacious bluff to let Konakchiev know he had made the wrong choice. (Watch the full hand in the clip below)

At this point Konakchiev could not have been feeling good. He was left to stew in his thoughts that the bracelet could already be on his wrist while having to battle back with a now significant short stack. Which he did so with a series of steady pots and a double up on a flip to pull himself close to even again. Korn regained the lead marginally after a few more hands as the heads up battle started to stretch close to two hours long.

Overcoming to win the bracelet

The second key hand of heads up was another instance of Korn bluffing as he ace-king on the turn on a board he whiffed on, but this time Konakchiev would not be laying to down as he called with top pair. The river missed Korn and the Bulgarian then made a massive chip lead which we would finish off just a few hands later to overcome the early bluff by Korn in an impressive display of heads up recovery.