Everyone knew that international poker superstar Gus Hansen would eventually win a WSOP gold bracelet. The question was not a matter of "if," but rather of "when."
"When" has turned into "now."
Hansen finally fittingly filled the one glaring void on what otherwise is a stellar poker resume by conquering one of the toughest fields in tournament poker. "The Great Dane," aptly named since he's originally from Denmark, won the ₤10,000 buy-in High-Roller No-Limit Hold’em Heads-Up Championship, the fourth title event held this year at WSOP Europe in London. He earned ₤288,409 for first place, equal to about $451,880. Hansen was also presented with his first WSOP gold bracelet.
Hansen is a 36-year-old professional poker player who has achieved near iconic status within the game, despite the omission of at least one amulet representing poker's most important achievement. He was up to this point, arguably the most popular and successful player in poker never to have won a WSOP title -- despite winning millions of dollars in other tournaments and playing for stratospheric stakes in many of the biggest cash games in the world. All that changed when the king baller from Monaco won the final best-of-three heads-up series in front of a packed house cheering a long overdue and well-deserved victory.
Indeed, Hansen had to wait even longer for his victory than one might have expected. The final table was interrupted and delayed two additional days, a WSOP first, because the initial stages of the heads-up match ran so long. Hansen became embroiled in a vicious struggle with Jim Collopy for the title, and when both players drew even at 1-1 in match wins, everyone agreed to suspend play.
The £10,000 buy-in WSOP Europe Main Event interrupted what had been an epic back and forth heads-up struggle between two outstanding players at polar opposites on the poker spectrum. Collopy, no stranger to playing in high-stakes online poker games, nonetheless was playing at his first live final table. Meanwhile, Hansen was well accustomed to the limelight, appearing regularly in virtually all of poker’s highest profile events. Both players entered the Main Event, and once eliminated, the Heads-Up finale was scheduled.
The third and decisive match was held on Sunday night on the Main Stage. An event that was not previously scheduled for television attracted the royal treatment from an ESPN film crew, on hand to broadcast the Main Event. The atmosphere resembled a championship prize fight as the players entered the ring and took seats at the final table.
It took Hansen about 3 hours to vanquish his final opponent in the match. The key hand of the match took place when Hansen made a full house (deuces full of jacks) against Collopy's trip jacks (ace kicker). That swung the advantage decisively in Hansen's favor and he closed out the victory about an hour later.
Hansen had to survive a dangerous tournament path which was laden with proverbial land mines disguised as poker players. The danger spots included each of seven rounds of heads-up matches. He overcame a formidable succession of opponents, including Max Steinburg, Mark Everett, Phil Ivey, Neil Channing, Andrew Feldman and finally Jim Collopy.
Collopy, a.k.a. "Mr. Big Queso," originally from Washington, DC and now residing in London, took second place, worth £178,211 (approximately $279,406 USD).
The three-day tournament was played at Casino at the Empire in central London. This was the fourth of five events scheduled this year at World Series of Poker Europe.
The total prize pool amounted to ₤1,030,000, making it the first non-Main Event tournament to exceed the million-pound mark at WSOP Europe. The top 16 finishers collected prize money. Among those who cashed were Ram Vaswani, Daniel Negreanu, Huck Seed, Howard Lederer, and Phil Ivey.
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