Saturday, June 4, 2011 | 2:30 p.m.
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Jake Cody joined one of poker’s most exclusive clubs early Saturday morning at the Rio.
The 22-year-old British pro won $851,192 and the first major World Series of Poker bracelet of the year in the $25,000 buy-in heads-up no-limit hold’em championship. More importantly to poker enthusiasts, Cody became only the third player ever to complete the “triple crown."
Cody now has a major title in each of the three biggest poker tournament series in the world — the World Series of Poker, the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour.
“I think this tops it off,” Cody told the WSOP’s official website after the victory. “Even though the EPT was my first really big win, this one was the most special.”
The only other players who have won all three titles in their careers are Roland de Wolfe and Gavin Griffin. But neither Griffin nor de Wolfe were as young or captured the title in as short of a span as Cody.
Cody has done it all in 18 months. His run started in January 2010 by winning the EPT Deauville Main Event for $1.2 million.
After participating in only one World Series of Poker event last year as a 21-year-old, Cody took the WPT London Main Event title for $425,492.
The EPT and WPT fields paled in comparison to what he faced at the Rio this week, though. The tournament was the most expensive heads-up event ever and attracted an elite field of 128 players.
In the semifinals, Cody got past well-known pro Gus Hansen and followed it with a victory against Yevgeniy Timoshenko in the championship. Hansen and Timoshenko have combined tournament earnings of more than $13 million.
“Against both Timoshenko and Hansen, I did not have a strategy,” Cody said. “I just decided to go in and go with what I felt. I wanted to see how they would react first.”
Cody reacted with pure aggression. He rarely trailed in either match and frustrated Timoshenko and Hansen with constant raises and re-raises.
Holding a near 4-to-1 chip advantage late, Cody started announcing ‘all-in’ frequently to make Timoshenko gamble for all of his chips. Timoshenko finally obliged with Ace-5 off-suit against Cody’s suited King-9.
Cody paired his King on the flop to win the bracelet. His large cheering section went wild and started chanting “triple crown."
“Having all the lads here really made it special for me,” Cody said.
Timoshenko earned $525,980 for his second-place finish. Hansen and Eric Froehlich, who Timoshenko defeated in the semifinals, won $283,966.