Brian Yoon first popped up on the poker radar in 2011, before he had even graduated from UCLA. He finished 58th in the 2011 World Series of Poker main event, cashing for $130,997.
Following his graduation in 2012, Yoon made his first major impact in 2013, winning the $1,111 Little One for One Drop at the 2013 WSOP, for $663,727. In 2014, Yoon struck again with his second WSOP bracelet win, in a $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event. In 2015, he made a deep run in the WPT Championship at Borgata, ultimately finishing third.
Yoon racked up a second and third top-60 finish in the WSOP Main Event in the years that followed, but the defining moment of his poker career came in 2017 with his first million-dollar result – a win in the WSOP Monster Stack that brought his bracelet total to three.
Over the last few years, Yoon has started taking mixed games seriously, and the results speak for themselves. He won the $10,000 2-7 Triple Draw championship in 2021, and that takes us to the present day. On Wednesday, Yoon registered his first ever cash in a Seven Card Stud event, and it just so happened to be a victory in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship.
“I’ve been focusing a lot on mixed games over the last couple years, so it’s nice to break through and get another one in that category,” Yoon said, following his victory. “And obviously, I don’t have a Stud bracelet, so it’s nice to get one in there. I think it’s special just because it’s a different game… It feels nice to break through in a game that you feel like you weren’t sure where you stacked up, and then you’re able to win.”
With his victory on Wednesday, Yoon broke through a major threshold and joined WSOP’s five-timers club, joining the likes of Jeremy Ausmus, Shaun Deeb, Michael Mizrachi, and Jason Mercier, among others. It also put him a single win away from the top 10 all-time. Despite the magnitude of his achievements while he’s in his 30s, Yoon has had arguably the quietest run to five WSOP wins of any player to this point – and part of that may be because of how low-key Yoon plays it.
“Honestly, I don’t really try to bracelet hunt or anything like that,” Yoon said. “I’m just out here trying to play the tournaments, and I enjoy playing the game. It feels great, obviously to join [the five-time winners club], so I’ll take it, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”
Like any $10,000 event, especially a non-Hold’em tournament, the Seven Card Stud Championship final table had some major obstacles standing in Yoon’s way. Ben Yu was also chasing a fifth career WSOP bracelet, and Maxx Coleman was neck and neck with Yoon for the chip lead all the way down to three-handed action. The other player in the mix, Dan Shak, had over $2.1 million in lifetime cashes without a WSOP bracelet win, arguably one of the most recognizable players never to take home a WSOP gold bracelet. Then the pots started going any way but Coleman’s.
“Honestly, I expected to get heads up against Maxx, because Maxx had all the chips throughout the whole thing,” said Yoon. “I respect Maxx’s game a lot, and I think he’s a very good player. I was kind of prepping myself to play him heads up, and then we got three-handed and I just coolered Maxx over and over, so that felt really good. I felt very good going into heads up, like I had all the momentum on my side.”
Shak kept fighting, chipping away here and there until he eventually brought it almost dead even. But even as he saw his chip lead slip away, Yoon never felt like the tournament was slipping away. Part of that had to do with how he was feeling and the way Shak joked about his perpetual runner-up fate to this point in his WSOP career.
“Dan kept telling me I had already won the tournament before we even started playing heads up, so it kind of felt like he already thought he was gonna lose. I don’t know, there’s something to be said about having a little bit of a loser’s mentality. Obviously things went my way with the cards.”
Yoon picked up the pace, but Shak continued to battle until running head-first into a cooler. On sixth street, Shak got the last of his chips in with two-pair, nines and eights, but Yoon had picked up a Broadway straight on sixth to pass him. Seventh street changed nothing, and that was it; Yoon was a five-time WSOP bracelet winner, and Shak was runner-up in a bracelet event for the second time in his career.
Coming off a 95th-place finish in the 18,188-entry Mystery Millions, a win in this event immediately put Yoon into the conversation among the early WSOP Player of the Year contenders. But in the same way he downplays his increasingly hard-to-ignore poker résumé, Yoon remained steadfast in carrying out his pre-WSOP plans as constituted before the series started.
“I was already planning on playing a full schedule anyways, so there’s not really going to be a difference,” said Yoon. “I’m not going to go and fire the $250K No Limit or the $100K. I’m not going to do that just to try and win POY, but obviously I have a decent chance at it, so we’ll see what happens. I plan on playing pretty much any $10K mixed game [tournament] that I want to play, and obviously anything lower as well.”
Yoon also has the $50,000 Poker Players Championship on his calendar. It’ll be his second time in that field, after playing it for the first time in 2022.
As he’s been for more than a decade, Yoon plans on remaining a constant presence at the WSOP for the foreseeable future. At his current rate of success, Yoon will enter even more exclusive company over the next few years. But as far as predicting how high his bracelet total will ultimately reach, Yoon intends to keep playing poker the way he’s been going about it, and hope the results continue to follow.
“I’m just trying to play the tournaments that I want to play on the schedule. So I mean, at this rate, it’s got to be a little high, I’d guess,” Yoon said of where he thinks his bracelet total will land. “I’m getting very lucky here, so if this luck continues, I don’t know – we’ll see about two figures. We’ll try and get there.”