ROCK SOLID - JESSE ROCKOWITZ WINS $721,373 AND 1st WSOP GOLD BRACELET IN EVENT 45

June 27, 2010 - 03:14:30 PM EST  | 

ROCK SOLID - JESSE ROCKOWITZ WINS $721,373 AND 1st WSOP GOLD BRACELET IN EVENT 45
Jesse Rockowitz Wins WSOP Gold Bracelet in Event 45

Does Rockowitz Personify the Changing of the Guard in Tournament Poker?
 
Northern California Poker Pro Collects $721,373 in Prize Money
 
Through 45 WSOP Events -- WSOP Attendance Rises 17 Percent over Last Year
 
For the tournament portal page for this event, including official report, please click HERE.

OVERVIEW

There’s a lesson to be learned at the latest World Series of Poker competition, which concluded early this morning.  That lesson is – names and records do not seem to matter much.  Just because a poker player has not been seen much at the WSOP and has not final tabled an event in the past does not imply he’s anything less of a poker player than some of the game’s most accomplished and recognized competitors.

We saw evidence of that early this morning when a 24-year-old poker pro named Jesse Rockowitz from Petaluma, CA, obliterated a 3,000-plus player field and became the latest WSOP gold bracelet winner.  Prior to this tournament, Rockowitz had earned a whopping grand total of $5,051 at the WSOP.  He earned 144 times that figure in one swoop, ripping $721,373 in loot out of the pockets of a poker field that, for the most part, had far more live tournament experience.

Indeed, Rockowitz was the winner of the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em championship.  This marked his first career WSOP gold bracelet victory, following several notable online wins and cashes.

The runner up was Raymond Coburn, from Jackson, NJ, who very well could have written the same short autobiography as the winner.  Coburn, who is rumored to have played poker online at least once in his life, collected a nice consolation prize amounting to $446,274.
 
The third-place finisher was Thiago Nishijima, from Sao Paulo, Brazil.  He is a 31-year-old former banker turned poker pro.  Nishijima hoped to become the second Brazilian WSOP title winner in history after Alexandre Gomes became the first gold bracelet winner ever from South America in 2008.  Nishijima was cheered by about 20 to 30 Brazilians, who gave the final table a World Cup-like atmosphere.  Nishijima earned a well-deserved $315,828.

No one knows if Rockowitz – who says he has no interest in being famous – will be a one-hit wonder, or will continue to play live tournaments and gradually emerge as one of poker’s newest stars.

THE CHAMPION – JESSE ROCKOWITZ

The $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em champion (Event #45) is Jesse Rockowitz, from Petaluma, CA.

Rockowitz is a 24-year-old poker pro.

Rockowitz was born in San Francisco, CA.

Rockowitz played several sports when he was a teenager.

Rockowitz graduated from Petaluma High School.

Rockowitz initially disliked Hold’em when he first played the game.  He now plays the game many hours per week. He started playing for a living in 2006.

Rockowitz backs several players who play full time; he himself plays mostly in cash games.

This was the third event Rockowitz entered at this year’s WSOP.  He collected the top prize amounting to $721,373 plus his first WSOP gold bracelet.

Rockowitz’s only previous cash at the WSOP was an 86th-place finish in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament held earlier this year.

According to official records, Rockowitz now has one win, one final table appearance, and two cashes at the WSOP.  He also has one WSOP Circuit cash, at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe.  His career WSOP earnings now total $726,242.

WINNER QUOTES

On his preference for online poker over live poker:  “I do not like live poker that much.  It is slow compared to online games.  I play up to 35 tables at once.  But in live poker I may get 30 hands an hour at the most.”

On what winning a WSOP gold bracelet means:  “This win is much more exciting.  I thought coming in that I would only care about the cash.  But tonight when I got heads-up, I realized that I wanted to win a bracelet.  I do not want to be famous.  But having peers see that is pretty cool.”

On his plans to possibly play in the upcoming $25,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em Championship:  “No way.  It’s too tough of a field.  No edge.”

On his plans to play in the 2010 WSOP Main Event:  “I will definitely play in the Main Event.”

On his perspective of how online pros stack up against many of the best live tournament players:  “Nobody knows that I know what I’m doing.  They are very good.  They are much better at live tournaments than I am.  But some of their fundamentals are not as sound.  Like their bet-sizing.  I have played so much and so many different games (online) and have so many hands played, even if it is over a shorter period of time.”

THE FINAL TABLE

The final table included no former WSOP gold bracelet winners, which guaranteed a first-time champion.

The final table began nine-handed.

The final table included players from five different nations – Brazil (1 player), Canada (1 player), South Africa (1 player), Sweden (1 player), and the United States (5 players).

This was the least-experienced final table of any open event so far at this year’s WSOP.  The player with the most previous cashes, Ray Coburn – had three in-the-money finishes coming into this tournament.  He was also the only player with WSOP final table experience.  Five of the finalists were making their first WSOP cash.

The runner up was Raymond Coburn, from Jackson, NJ.  He is a 24-year-old poker pro.  This was Coburn’s fourth time to cash at the WSOP.  If Coburn had to finish second in an event, he picked the right one with this tournament.  The second-place prize exceeded several of the winner’s shares in other events.  The consolation prize amounted to $446,274.

The third-place finisher was Thiago Nishijima, from Sao Paulo, Brazil.  He is a 31-year-old former banker turned poker pro.  Nishijima hoped to become the second Brazilian WSOP title winner in history after Alexandre Gomes became the first gold bracelet winner ever from South America in 2008.  Nishijima was cheered by about 20 to 30 Brazilians, who gave the final table a World Cup atmosphere.  Nishijima earned a well-deserved $315,828.

The fourth-place finisher was Kevin O’Dell, from Birmingham, Michigan.  He is a 40-year-old chiropractor.  O’Dell has now cashed in all three $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournaments he has played.  This was his best finish, by far – which paid $228,614.

The fifth-place finisher was Michael Goldfarb, from Coral Springs, FL.  He is a 43-year-old recreational poker player who works in sales.  Goldfarb received $167,405 for fifth place.

The sixth-place finisher was Steven Brown, from Cape Town, South Africa.  He is a 46-year-old sportsman.  Brown was a former table tennis champion in South Africa who started playing poker seriously about 10 years ago.  He final tabled the All Africa Swaziland championship and enjoyed his best WSOP finish ever in this tournament, which paid $124,006.

The seventh-place finisher was Shaun Malough, from Port Coquitlam, BC (Canada).  He is a 49-year-old IT manager.  Malough made his first cash in this tournament, which paid out a very respectable $92,900.

The eighth-place finisher was Justin Conley, a 22-year-old former student-turned poker pro from Prestonburg, KY.  This was Conley’s second time to cash this year, which paid $70,365.

The ninth-place finisher was Johan Jakobsson, from Umea, Sweden.  He is a 29-year-old student.  Jakobsson collected $53,892 and was the first player eliminated from the finale.

The final table began at 7:20 pm and ended at 5:10 am, for a duration of 9 hours and 50 minutes.

OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS

The top 324 finishers collected prize money.  Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Dutch Boyd (15th), Ayaz Mahmood (55th), John “Razor” Phan (59th), Berry Johnston (121st), Tom Schneider (128th), John Juanda (297th), and Jeffrey Papola (308th)

The 19th-place finisher was Paul Magriel, a.k.a. “X22,” from Las Vegas, NV.  Prior to playing poker for a living, Magriel was living in New York City and was one of the top-ranked backgammon players in the world.  He won the 1978 World Backgammon Championship.  Magriel has been cited for having won more backgammon tournaments than any player in the world.  He also wrote a backgammon column for the New York Times during the 1970s.  This marked Magriel’s seventh time to cash at the WSOP.

Five-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Berry Johnston, from Bethany, OK, cashed for the 61st time in his career.  This ranks fourth on the all-time WSOP cashes list.

2007 WSOP “Player of the Year” and two-time gold bracelet winner Tom Schneider finished in 128th place.

The 267th-place finisher was Tom McCormick, from Fargo, ND.  This marked his 34th time to cash.  McCormick ranks second on the all-time list behind Tony Cousineau as the player with most in-the-money finishes without a win.

Four-time WSOP gold bracelet winner John Juanda, from Las Vegas, NV, cashed for the fifth time at this year’s WSOP and 56th time in his career.  This ranks ninth on the all-time WSOP cashes list.

Juanda now appears to be at the top of the 2010 WSOP “Player of the Year” race, with other tournaments still pending.

ODDS AND ENDS

This is the 873rd gold bracelet event in World Series of Poker history.  Note:  This figure includes every official WSOP event played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded.  It also includes the 11 gold bracelets awarded to date at WSOP Europe.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament runs past midnight).  The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year.  The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament, usually around 2:20 pm.  The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played.  The entire presentation is open to public and media.  Video and photography are permitted by both public and members of the media.

Rockowitz requested that the national anthem of the United States be played at his WSOP gold bracelet ceremony, held Tuesday June 30th, 2010.

TOURNAMENT PLAY

The tournament was played over three consecutive days, from June 25-27 2010.

There were 3,097 entries.  The total prize pool amounted to $4,180,950.  The top 324 finishers collected prize money.

This was the second-largest prize pool of this year’s WSOP.  Only the Poker Players Championship (Event #2) had a bigger prize pool.

Jesse Rockowitz won the last hand of the tournament holding    .  He made two pair on the turn and ended up with a counterfeited pair on the river.  This is considered among the worst staring hands in Hold’em. (Note:  The unsuited 7-2 is worse).

2010 WSOP STATISTICS

Tournament attendance is up significantly from this point last year.  Last year, through 45 events, there were 43,325 entries.  Thus far this year, there have been 51,045 total entries, an increase of 17.8 percent.

Prize money figures are also higher than last year.  In 2009, through 45 events, the total prize money won was $87,435,394.  This year’s prize money currently amounts to $88,509,865.

Through the conclusion of Event #45, the nationalities of gold bracelet winners have been:

United States (30)
Great Britain (5)
Canada (5)
Hungary (2)
New Zealand (1)
France (1)
Russia (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #45, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:

United States (23)
Great Britain (5)
Canada (5)
Vietnam (2)
China (2)
Hungary (2)
New Zealand (1)
France (1)
Lebanon (1)
Russia (1)
Mexico (1)
Bangladesh (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #45, the breakdown of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:

Professional Players (32):  Michael Chow, Michael Mizrachi, Praz Bansi, Josh Tieman, Peter Gelencser, James Dempsey, Men “the Master” Nguyen, Matt Matros, Yan R. Chen, Steve Gee, Carter Phillips, Jason DeWitt, Eric Buchman, David Baker, Richard Ashby, Dutch Boyd, Sammy Farha, David Warga, Will Haydon, Matt Keikoan, Mike Ellis, Luis Velador, Ayaz Mahmood, Phil Ivey, Luigi Kwaysser, Scott Montgomery, Steven Kelly, Steve Jelinek, Dean Hamrick, Ian Gordon, Gavin Smith, Jesse Rockowitz

Semi-Pros (5):  Frank Kassela, Tex Barch, Miguel Proulx, Jeffrey Papola, Frank Kassela

Amateurs (8):  Duc Pham, Aadam Daya, Pascal LeFrancois, Simon Watt, Vanessa Hellebuyck, Jeff Tebben, Konstantin Puchkov, Harold Angle

Through the conclusion of Event #45, here is the list of repeat WSOP gold bracelet winners:

Praz Bansi
Men “the Master” Nguyen
Russ “Dutch” Boyd
Sammy Farha
David Warga (* his first WSOP win was in a non-open event)
Matt Keikoan
Luis Velador
Phil Ivey
Frank Kassela (two wins this year)

Through the conclusion of 2010 World Series of Poker -- Event #45:

Youngest Winner – Steven Kelly (21)
Oldest Winner – Harold Angle (78)
Female Winners (open events) – None
Multiple-Event Winners (this year) – Frank Kassela

 
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Nolan Dalla – WSOP.com Senior Writer


About the author: Nolan Dalla's work is found all over WSOP.com, as he is the Senior Writer for poker's longest-running poker series and has contributed to the site since 2005.

He is also the longtime Media Director of the World Series of Poker. He's become the lone link from poker's modern age back to the old days when the WSOP was played at Binion's Horseshoe – where Dalla served as the casino's Director of Public Relations.
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