Asher Conniff Exorcises Big Stage Demons on Way to WSOP $5K Win

WPT Champions Club member Asher Conniff added his first career WSOP gold bracelet Thursday in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Champions Reunion event, and earned some catharsis from his last appearance on the WSOP stage during the 2022 WSOP Main Event.

Tim Fiorvanti
May 31, 2024
Asher Conniff won his first career WSOP bracelet with pocket tens – the same hand he went out of the 2022 WSOP Main Event with, and on the same stage.

The last time Asher Conniff was on the main television stage at the World Series of Poker – the space that’s colloquially become known as ‘The Mothership,’ he was ten-handed in the 2022 WSOP Main Event.

On the seventh hand that night, Conniff got all of his chips in in as standard a coinflip spot as there is in poker, pocket tens against ace-king, albeit with a lot more money at stake than any previous flip Conniff had ever played. What happened next became a viral clip as Conniff’s opponent, Michael Duek, flopped four-of-a-kind and immediately brought Conniff’s run to an end.

Returning to that stage Thursday night at the 2024 World Series of Poker, at the final table of the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Champions Reunion event, Conniff had a chance to exorcise some of those demons – and he did. Conniff came back from a significant chip deficit heads up to clinch his first career WSOP gold bracelet and $408,468.

“It’s incredible, man,” said Conniff. “Just to not have to think about trying to win one anymore is great. Obviously the money and just the experience, too. I don’t take for granted that most people who played the starting event are down a bunch of money on the summer already, and I’m lucky enough to not be.”

Conniff was already a WPT Champions Club member, having won the Season XIII WPT World Championship in 2013 for a career-best cash of $973,683. He joins a select group of players with both a WPT Main Tour title and a WSOP gold bracelet. Conniff’s win in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em, the first open field event of the 2024 WSOP, was all the more impressive because of the comeback he put together.

He was short-stacked for much of the late stages of the tournament, as Halil Tasyurek accumulated a substantial chip lead. Conniff essentially executed a two-step plan to perfection – first, outlast the other short stacks, and then claw his way back into the tournament.

“Once we got to the final table, it was really a mix of trying to get chips, but also outlast the other guys because I’m making money when they lose,” said Conniff. “So I was just kind of trying to be aware of the fact that it was in my benefit to kind of fold a lot and let people lose. Once we got to the heads up, I just tried to just play small ball, and I ran really, really well, had a lot of big hands and things just really went my way.”

Conniff’s experiences in winning the WPT World Championship and making the unofficial final table of the WSOP Main Event also played a factor in his ability not to let the moment swallow him up.

“I think one, because there’s a bunch of good players at this final table, one of the advantages I had is that I’ve been on live streams and in spots before where people can see my cards, there’s bright lights and it’s stressful,” said Conniff. “And it still is stressful anyway, the next time, but you definitely have an understanding of, like, ‘I’ve been here before, I know what to do.'”

Despite the often random nature of poker, once action got down to heads up there were some seemingly cosmic runouts and confrontations. With a growing group of friends on the rail in support, Conniff got all in in a rough spot, holding Spade K Diamond 10 against Tasyurek’s Spade A Spade 10. One of Conniff’s friends shouted out, “We’re owed some kings on this stage,” calling back to Conniff’s exit from the 2022 WSOP Main Event.

And indeed, the Heart K hit the flop, and held up as Conniff doubled for the first time. Suddenly, a comeback had gone from a longshot to a real possibility, and Conniff gained all of the momentum with very little of the pressure.

“When we got heads up, I was kind of like, ‘Fuck it, let’s run it. See what happens,’” said Conniff. “You know, I’m not supposed to win, so I might as well.

“I think if the situation were reversed, I’d feel a ton of pressure to get it done with a huge chip lead. So yeah, I just figured I’d come in and give it my best shot. Definitely ran well, was all in and hit the three outs, so I definitely don’t take that for granted.”

On the final hand, the universe had one more wrinkle for Conniff. Facing an all-in bet from Tasyurek, Conniff looked down at his hand.

He had pocket tens.

Conniff called, and Tasyurek’s Diamond J Diamond 9 failed to connect with the board. Conniff celebrated with his friends, and with the same hand that caused his undoing in the biggest spot of his poker career, on the very same stage, Conniff felt a weight fall from his shoulders.

“I play a decent amount of poker, and every single time I see 10s there’s like a tiny jolt in my body,” said Conniff. “I’m like, ‘Fuck!’ And it’s nice that that’s gone. It definitely feels like some cathartic, weird thing, and it’s awesome.”