Phil Hellmuth couldn't stop Mark Radoja. Neither could Justin Bonomo. Or Johannes Meyer, Douglas Polk, Ludovic Lacay, Ankush Mandavia, Alex Venovski or Don Nguyen. Radoja batted through eight rounds of heads-up play to win the $10,000 Heads-Up World Championship bracelet and $336,190. It was the second time in three years that the Canadian was victorious in Las Vegas and the fourth consecutive year that he made a final table.
"This one was really special," said Radoja to the WSOP. " It was different for me this time because it was such a test and the field was so strong. It was a smaller field, but the caliber of players here was unbelievable."
The smaller field of 162 was 10 players larger than the event in 2012, a welcome result for WSOP organizers who have struggled to find strong numbers in the higher buy-in events thus far. Radoja made the money last year as well.
"It's an absolutely perfect format," he said. "The skill involved is very high. You look at the field. It really is difficult. A lot of really good poker players pass on this event, which is why there are just 160 people. It's an absolute thrill and honor to be at the top of that because it's not just skill or luck, it's a really good combination of both. I'm really happy I brought my A-game and that the cards fell my way."
Every match offered a unique challenge for Radoja, especially the finals against Nguyen. The Californian was in dominant shape after hitting K-6 over Radoja's 9-9, but Nguyen couldn't fight off his opponent's resilience. Hand after hand, Radoja never let up and managed to catch the necessary doubles before eliminating Nguyen with a river king (K-9 over A-3).
This was Nguyen's third career WSOP cash. His opponents leading up to the finals included last year's champion Brian Hastings, Steve Saraf, Jan Kasten, Ali Eslami, Craig Bergeron, Sean Winter and Ben Sulsky.
Radoja became the fifth Canadian champion of the 2013 WSOP.
Below are the complete results of Event 16 at the 2013 World Series of Poker:
Event 16: Heads-Up Championship
Prize pool: $1,522,800
Players in the money: 16
1. Mark Radoja ($336,190)
2. Don Nguyen ($209,648)
T-3. Justin Bonomo ($110,485)
T-3. Ben Sulsky ($110,485)
T-5. Phil Hellmuth ($54,024)
T-5. Randy Lew ($54,024)
T-5. Sean Winter ($54,024)
T-5. Russell Rosenblum ($59,024)
T-9. Phil Galfond ($26,237)
T-9. Alexander Venovski ($31,237)
T-9. Warwick Mirzikinian ($26,237)
T-9. Davidi Kitai ($26,237)
T-9. Bryan Pellegrino ($31,237)
T-9. Craig Bergeron ($26,237)
T-9. Melanie Weisner ($26,237)
T-9. Marc-Andre Ladouceur ($31,237)