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Jason Koon wins 1st WSOP bracelet; Phil Hellmuth denied 16th

Scratch Jason Koon off the list of best poker players without a World Series of Poker bracelet.

Koon, a high-stakes standout with more than $32 million in career tournament earnings, won Event 11 of the WSOP, the $25,000 buy-in Head-up No-limit Hold’em Championship, early Friday at the Rio.

Koon prevailed in a single-elimination bracket of 57 players, earning $243,981. Gabor Szabo finished second for $150,790.

“It’s one of those things when you’re on an airplane and a person is like, ‘Do you have a bracelet?’ I’m just like, ‘Nope.’ At least I can finally say yes to that,” Koon told PokerNews. “I love coming here. I think I’ll play poker forever, and when it’s all said and done, I think it’s inevitable I’ll have several of them.”

Koon had 50 cashes for more than $2.2 million in WSOP events but had never finished off a victory. (The WSOP awards trophy bracelets for tournament wins.)

Koon’s previous best finish was second place in a $3,000 Heads-up No-limit Hold’em/Pot-limit Omaha event in 2012.

At another final table Thursday, Ari Engel claimed his second WSOP bracelet, taking down Event 9, the $10,000 Omaha High-Low Championship. He prevailed in a field of 134 entries, earning $317,076. Zachary Milchman finished second for $195,968.

Phil Hellmuth missed a chance to extend his WSOP bracelet record, finishing fifth for $80,894. He remains the all-time leader with 15 bracelets, five more than any other player.

Other recent bracelet winners include:

— Jaswinder Lally won Event 7, the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice six-handed (307 entries), for $97,915 and his first bracelet.

— Zhi Wu won Event 8, the $600 No-limit Hold’em Deepstack (4,527 entries), for $281,406 and his first bracelet.

— Michael Perrone won Event 10, the $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty No-limit Hold’em (1,640 entries), for $152,173 and his first bracelet.

— Yuval Bronshtein won Event 12, the $1,500 Limit Hold’em (422 entries), for $124,374 and his second bracelet.

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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