Despite entering the final table as one of the shortest stacks in remaining and staring at a massive chip deficit at the outset of heads-up play, Michael Prendergast staged multiple comebacks to win his first World Series of Poker bracelet in the $600 pot-limit Omaha deepstack eight-max event.
The Chicago-based family man defeated Jeffrey Barnes heads-up to best the 1,572-entry field and earn $127,428, the first outright victory of his career and first six-figure score. Although given his responsibilities at home, it’s not hard to understand why these are firsts.
“I don’t play a lot of tournaments,” said Prendergast to WSOP live reporters. “I’ve got a wife and kids.”
The quicker two-day event allowed Prendergast to play the tournament and pick up 540 Card Player Player of the Year points.
Prendergast started the eight-handed final table as the short stack, but tripled up early on when he was all in preflop for his last eight big blinds with 9764 against Joao Simao and https://www.cardplayer.com/poker-players/187522-daniel-wasserberg. Wasserberg bet the 542 flop and forced Simao to fold.
Wasserberg showed AQ42 and was in the lead with two pair, but the 6 came on the turn to give Prendergast a flush. After a brick river, Prendergast tripled up and was right back in the thick of the things.
After securing the triple up, he continued his hot streak by eliminating John Bunch in eighth. Bunch, who made his second final table of the 2021 WSOP, was all in preflop with AKJ9, but couldn’t overcome Prendergast’s AQQ10.
Shortly after Bunch’s elimination, the blinds went up again, the chip stacks got shallower and eliminations quickly piled up. Eric Polirer busted in seventh after getting all in preflop with QQ105 against Donnie Phan’s AAKJ and couldn’t improve.
Phan followed him to the cashier’s cage in sixth after a big bluff attempt was picked off by Barnes and then ran KQJ5 into Prendergast’s AAQ6.
Wasserberg was next to hit the rail as he also ran into pocket aces. He got into a preflop battle on the button against Simao in the big blind. All the chips got in the middle before the flop with Wasserberg’s QQ53 all in against Simao’s AAK6.
The final four players went on a dinner break and then Barnes dispatched of Simao right after play resumed. On a flop of Q76, Simao was all in with AJ108 against Barnes’ KQ75. The turn was the 9 and the river was the 7. Simao turned a flush, but Barnes filled up on the river to eliminate the Brazilian pro.
There was some slight chip movement three-handed as Prendergast briefly took the chip lead, but it all came back to Barnes, who eventually eliminated Jungwoong Park in third to take a more than 4-to-1 chip lead heads-up against Prendergast.
Once there were two remaining, Prendergast gained a ton of momentum and won every meaningful pot. Just 30 minutes into the match, Prendergast took a small lead and then finished off the tournament in just under an hour of heads-up play.
Ultimately, it was a flop of Q86 that led to the completion of the event. All the money went in with Barnes showing KJ85 and Prendergast turning over A644.
Both players flopped a pair and a flush draw, but Barnes had the better pair and the better flush draw. While Barnes was technically the player at risk, the difference in chip stacks was so small that this was basically for the entire tournament.
The turn was the 5, improving Barnes to two pair, but the river was the A. It gave Prednergast a better two pair to secure the pot and the title.
Final Table Results:
Photo Credit: WSOP/Melissa Haereiti