One of the marquee events of the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) has concluded with Chanracy Khun being crowned the Event #8: $25,000 Heads-Up Championship winner.
In the 64-entrant, bracket-style format, Khun defeated Marko Grujic and Event #2 champion Alexandre Vuilleumier before facing off with Gabor Szabo in a match on the money bubble. After dispatching of Szabo, Khun would defeat Landon Tice to advance to the final day of play. Khun defeated Sean Winter on the outer table before he was matched up with his final opponent Doug Polk.
Not only did Polk bring to the table his experience of playing heads-up and three WSOP bracelets, but he also had one of the loudest and most boisterous rails of potentially the entire 2023 WSOP cheering and chanting loudly. War cries of "We will, we will, Polk you!" echoed around the PokerGO Main Stage, but Khun managed to navigate through the noise to defeat Polk to win his first WSOP bracelet and the $507,020 first-place prize.
"It's not every day that you get this opportunity," Khun said on competing against one of the best players in the world in a loud environment. "The pressure, it really can get to you, and it did get to me because I had a couple of mistakes. Fortunately, it didn't end up being big mistakes. I tried my best to keep my composure, and it ended up well."
Once play resumed in the finals, Khun would take the early lead when he improved his ace-high to top pair on the river. Polk began narrowing the gap before taking the lead when it would be his turn to river a pair. Polk continued to apply pressure to widen the gap, but Khun eventually struck back when he flopped two pairs and held on to win the pot.
As the two traded jabs back and forth, Polk would surge to more than a two-to-one advantage when he flopped two pair and improved to a full house on the turn. After Polk dragged the pot, his rail erupted into their best rendition of Queen with a, "We will, we will, Polk you!" chant. However, that positive energy would be short-lived when Khun doubled with one pair against Polk's straight draw that he turned into a river bluff with queen-high. Shortly after, the final hand would play out that saw Polk all-in with king-eight, only to be shown the king-ten by Khun. The board blanked out, and a fourth WSOP bracelet would have to wait for Polk as Khun claimed his maiden WSOP gold.
Having claimed a huge win to kickstart his WSOP, is it likely that Khun will put his foot on the gas in a bid to make a run at WSOP Player of the Year?
"I really wanted to play the heads-up because there is more action, and it's like a chess game. Whereas other games, I wouldn't say less challenging, but maybe a little bit less action."
Khun is now in an elusive group of players that have won both a WSOP bracelet and a WPT title - having won WPT Barcelona in April 2013. To some, fortune and fame mean everything, but Khun views it differently.
"For this event particularly, I wanted to win the bracelet more than the money because it's such a prestigious tournament that you're playing against the best players in the world," Khun said, rationalizing the difference between poker trophies and financial gain. "I was just lucky enough to be able to beat them. I'm probably not as skilled as most of the pros, but sometimes you get luckier than other people."