John Orfanos Comes Back From a 12-to-1 Deficit to Win Event 26 in Memory of His Father

2021 Lucky Hearts Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Hollywood, Florida
Event 26
$2,200 Deep Stack PLO (Re-Entry)
Entries:  113
Prize Pool:  $226,000
January 26-27, 2021

John Orfanos
John Orfanos

Even at the end of the 2021 Lucky Hearts Poker Open, events were crushing all expectations for turnout, and Event 26 ($2,200 Deep Stack PLO) was no different. The field size more than tripled from 35 entries a year ago to 113, creating a first prize of $66,671 that was almost equal to last year’s entire prizepool ($70,000).

And it featured a dramatic finish.

Richard Gayler was the shortest stack in the field when there were two tables left, but he bounced back to start the final table as the chipleader, and then knocked out second-in-chips Haim Or Krief to take a massive chip lead with 63% of all the chips in play.

Gayler continued adding to his stack, knocking out four of the five final tablists on his way to getting heads-up against John Orfanos with more than a 12-to-1 chip lead.

But that’s where the story took another dramatic turn.

“I’m super comfortable playing short-stacked. It’s one of my specialties,” said Orfanos, who loves pot-limit Omaha and considers it to be his strongest game. “As long as I have chips, I have a chance.”

Gayler’s momentum screeched to a halt as Orfanos won pot after pot, scoring a few early double-ups from preflop all-ins, and then steadily working his way back to even — and then the chip lead.

The next time they got it all in, Orfanos had more than a 3-to-1 chip lead, and he also had pocket aces (AdAsQs2c) that held up for the victory.

When asked about his comeback, Orfanos said, “It feels awesome to accomplish something like that, when your odds are less than, I’d say, 5-6%. It was amazing.”

“I just want to thank everyone that supports me,” said Orfanos, “and I want to dedicate this to my father who died two years ago.” Orfanos paused for a moment, a bit choked up as he looked toward the heavens. “This is for you, Dad.”


Final Results:

PlaceFirst NameLast NamePrize Amount
1JohnOrfanos$66,671
2RichardGayler$41,245
3SeanShah$24,634
4JamesHurley$15,280
5ElliottKampen$11,978
6ArtemMaksimov$9,944
7HaimOr Krief$8,079
8PhilHui$8,079
9JamesChen$6,667
10NoahSchwartz$5,876
11DalvinDavis$5,876
12KevinLove$5,876
13DavidProciak$5,085
14DonaldMaloney$5,085
15BradSailor$5,085

Event 26: John Orfanos Wins! ($66,671) Richard Gayler Finishes as Runner-Up ($41,245)

$2,200 Deep Stack PLO (Re-Entry)
Structure | Payouts
Level 19:  10,000/20,000
Players Remaining:  1 of 113

John Orfanos
John Orfanos

Richard Gayler raised to 50,000, John Orfanos reraised to 150,000, and Gayler called.

The flop came 10c3h2h, Orfanos checked, Gayler bet 200,000, and Orfanos called.

The turn card was the Ks, Orfanos moved all in, and Gayler called all in for a little more than 200,000.

John Orfanos:  AdAsQs2c  (pocket aces, gutshot straight draw)
Richard Gayler:  AcJd10s9h  (pair of tens, gutshot straight draw)

The river card was the 7c, and Orfanos won the pot — along with the title, the trophy, and $66,671 — with his pocket aces.

Richard Gayler finished as the runner-up, earning $41,245.

Richard Gayler
Richard Gayler

Final Table Results:

1st:  John Orfanos  –  $66,671 + LHPO Trophy
2nd:  Richard Gayler  –  $41,245
3rd:  Sean Shah  –  $24,634
4th:  James Hurley  –  $15,280
5th:  Elliott Kampen  –  $11,978
6th:  Artem Maksimov  –  $9,944
7th:  Haim Or Krief  –  $8,079

Event 26: John Orfanos Raises the River On a Double-Paired Board

$2,200 Deep Stack PLO (Re-Entry)
Structure | Payouts
Level 19:  10,000/20,000
Players Remaining:  2 of 113

John Orfanos
John Orfanos

John Orfanos raised to 60,000, and Richard Gayler called.

The flop came As10d2c, Gayler checked, Orfanos bet 90,000, and Gayler called.

The turn card paired the board with the 2s, and both players checked.

The river card double-paired the board with the Ad, Gayler bet 210,000, and Orfanos thought for a while before raising to 450,000. Gayler folded, and Orfanos took the pot.

John Orfanos  –  1,785,000  (89 bb)
Richard Gayler  –  475,000  (24 bb)

Event 26: John Olfanos Takes a 2-to-1 Lead Over Richard Gayler

$2,200 Deep Stack PLO (Re-Entry)
Structure | Payouts
Level 19:  10,000/20,000
Players Remaining:  2 of 113

John Orfanos
John Orfanos

Richard Gayler raised to 50,000, and John Orfanos called.

The flop came QdJd9d, Orfanos checked, Gayler bet 40,000, and Orfanos called.

The turn card was the 3c, Orfanos checked, Gayler bet 150,000, and Orfanos called.

The river card was the 6d, and both players checked. Orfanos showed Jh10h10d7d to win the pot with a ten-high diamond flush, and Gayler mucked.

And Orfanos, who had been down more than 12-to-1 in chips, now had a 2-to-1 advantage.

John Orfanos  –  1,500,000  (75 bb)
Richard Gayler  –  750,000  (38 bb)

Event 26: John Orfanos Steadily Rises To Tie It Up with Richard Gayler

$2,200 Deep Stack PLO (Re-Entry)
Structure | Payouts
Level 19:  10,000/20,000
Players Remaining:  2 of 113

John Orfanos vs Richard Gayler
John Orfanos (foreground, left) stares down Richard Gayler (right).

John Orfanos was winning more than his share of pots for a while, slowly narrowing the gap between him and Richard Gayler.

Gayler raised to 60,000, and Orfanos called. The flop came KsJd10d, Orfanos bet 80,000, and Gayler called. The turn card was the 4c, and both players checked.

The river card paired the board with the 10h, and they checked again. Orfanos showed QxQx10x3x to win the pot with trip tens, and Gayler mucked.

A couple hands later, Gayler raised to 60,000, Orfanos reraised to 180,000, and Gayler called. Both players checked to the turn on a board of Ah9h9dAd, Orfanos bet 360,000, and Gayler folded. Orfanos took the pot.

John Orfanos  –  1,000,000  (50 bb)
Richard Gayler  –  1,250,000  (63 bb)

A couple hands later, Gayler raised to 60,000, and Orfanos called. The flop came AhQd2h, Orfanos checked, Gayler bet 60,000, and Orfanos called. The turn card was the 7s, and both players checked.

The river card was the 8d, and they checked again. Orfanos showed Qc8c5s3s to win the pot with a pair of eights, and Gayler mucked.

John Orfanos  –  1,125,000  (56 bb)
Richard Gayler  –  1,125,000  (56 bb)

And with that hand, John Orfanos came back from being more than a 12-to-1 underdog in chips to tying it up.