When Event #58: $1,500 Mixed-Max No-Limit Hold'em kicked off on Monday there were 1,475 runners in the room, each hoping to find themselves where Jared Jaffee sits tonight. The longtime pro finally earned his first World Series of Poker bracelet after recording 11 cashes here at the Rio since 2009, and with the accomplishment he also moved one step closer to capturing poker's "Triple Crown." Jaffee took down the World Poker Tour Jacksonville bestbet Fall Poker Scramble $3,500 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event in November of last year, but as every poker player knows, there's nothing quite like grabbing the WSOP gold.
The mixed-max format saw the field play a full first day of nine-handed action and whittle the field down to 181, and on Day 2 the tables shrunk to six-handed for another gauntlet of short-handed poker. Late on Day 2, the final 24 players reconvened at four-handed tables and the pace accelerated until just 10 remained. Jaffee topped the counts entering the third and final day of play, and he quickly went to work building on that advantage.
A crucial cooler of a hand against Brandon Cantu propelled Jaffee into the final four heads-up matches with nearly half the chips in play, as Jaffee's kings were ran down by Cantu's queens, until the river reversed the situation in cruel fashion for the combustible Cantu.
Armed with a massive chip advantage over his heads-up opponent Joseph Alban, Jaffee dispatched him in short order to secure a spot in the finals, where he would face fellow pro Mike Watson. Both players were searching for their first WSOP bracelet, and a lengthy heads-up duel ensued in which Watson fought back admirably from a nearly 2-1 disadvantage when play began. Watson picked off a bold bluff by Jaffee to briefly claim the chip lead, but Jaffee continued to apply pressure with preflop raises and post-flop aggression, winning the majority of pots during the contest.
Eventually, the tide turned in Jaffee's favor and he finished Watson off in stunning fashion, going runner-runner to make a straight and crack Watson's pocket jacks in a preflop clash.
Jaffee collected $405,428 for the first-place finish, pushing over the $2 million live earnings milestone in the process by capturing his third six-figure score in a nine-month span. He now needs only a victory on the European Poker Tour to become the latest member of the "Triple Crown" club, proving that Jaffee's name belongs among the short list of poker's rising stars.