WSOP Online: Van Auken takes special ‘Big 500 Encore’ gold

Haley Hintze
Published by:
Posted on 07/27/2021

New Jersey’s Eric Van Auken has joined the list of recent first-time winners in the World Series of Poker’s weeks-long WSOP Online series. Van Auken claimed his first winner’s bracelet and a $93,627 payday in an event that was part of a special two-bracelet Sunday on the WSOP’s domestic online site.

Van Auken, playing as “8bracelets” from a northeast New Jersey location, picked up the biggest win of his career. The Big 500 Encore ran opposite the $7,777 ‘Lucky 7s’ on Sunday that saw superstar David Peters earn his third bracelet. Like the Lucky 7’s tourney, this event began on Sunday but wasn’t decided until Monday’s early hours.

The “Encore” event where Van Auken triumphed featured the larger turnout, too. Peters’ win was in a high-roller tourney that drew 151 total entries. Van Auken’s win in the Encore, with its $500 buy-in, came in a tourney with 1,118 total entries. In total, the 500 Encore paid out $503,100 in prize money.

A come-from-behind final-table performance for Van Auken

Van Auken, a real-estate agent in the greater Paterson/Hackensack area, arrived at this event’s final nine in the middle of the pack. Dominick ‘Flow_Cold’ Sarle led the final nine and dominated the final’s action into heads-up play. Meanwhile, Van Auken steadily chipped up as other players fell, though he picked up only one other final-table knockout.

Sarle enjoyed a 2:1 edge in chips as heads-up play began. He extended that lead further in the heads-up duel, though a huge double-through where Van Auken rivered a straight gave Van Auken a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. The hand featured Van Auken all in pre-flop with pocket eights against Sarle’s jack-ten, and a J-10-7 flop gave Sarle the lead and the likely win.

That wasn’t how it played out, however. A five on the turn changed nothing; Van Auken needed an eight or nine on the river to survive, and the nine indeed showed, filling Van Auken’s straight. The hit left Sarle short on chips, and he moved them in a couple of hands later. Again he had J-10 and again it was no good. Van Auken called with K-10, and Sarle failed to improve, settling for a $57,856 runner-up payday.

Van Auken nearly doubled his recorded lifetime tournament winnings with the big payday. In addition to the coveted WSOP bracelet, the $93,627 cash is also Van Auken’s largest tourney score. Prior to Monday, his best showing, money-wise, had been a sixth-place showing for just under $40,000 in a WSOP International Circuit main event at Kahnawake, near Montreal.

Hall of Famer Jack McClelland makes final

As usual, each WSOP Online event features plenty of prior bracelet winners and other prominent pros. At least 14 other prior bracelet winners cashed in this event, including multiple-bracelet winners Nick Schulman, Ryan Leng, Brent Shaffer, Ben Yu, and Jeff Madsen.

One of the most surprising finishes in the event, however, came from Poker Hall of Famer Jack McClelland. McClelland’s lasting fame in poker came from his decades of work at several prominent poker rooms. He was one of the principle people behind the scenes at the WSOP during the ’80s and ’90s, and he later went on to manage the Bellagio’s poker room from 2002 to 2013.

Now retired as a tournament director and room manager, McClelland — an accomplished player in his own right — made the final table here but was the first player to bust. His night ended in a classic tourney race, where his suited ace-queen squared off against Naichang Chen’s pocket queens. A king on the flop gave McClelland the lead, but Chen rivered a four-on-the-board flush to send McClelland to the virtual rail in ninth.

Final Results

  1. Eric ‘8Bracelets’ Van Auken – $93,627
  2. Dominick ‘Flow_Cold’ Sarle – $57,856
  3. Corey ‘Corgasm’ Paggeot – $40,952
  4. Naichang ‘cncly1314’ Chen – $29,381
  5. Tomasz ‘ToMRoX’ Trelski – $21,331
  6. Dean ‘nikobellic99’ Curreri – $15,697
  7. Justin ‘pocketprofit’ Wong – $11,722
  8. Jacob ‘tooletime13’ Toole – $8,855
  9. Jack ‘Borgia92’ McClelland – $6,792

Featured image source: hendonmob.com