TOURNAMENT HEADLINES:

Fabrice the Fabulous

Fabrice Soulier Wins $10,000 Buy-In H.O.R.S.E. Championship

Soulier Becomes Fourth French WSOP Champion in 2011

French Poker Pro Rakes-In $609,130 in Prize Money

Tough Canadian Poker Pro Shawn Buchanan Finishes as Runner-Up

Full House at the 2011 WSOP-- Tournament Attendance Running Ahead of Last Year

37 Gold Bracelets Won – 21 More Still to Go

OVERVIEW

The moniker “best poker player who’s never won a gold bracelet” is a bit unjust. 

It implies there’s a small clique of players who somehow are more deserving of a World Series of Poker victory than others.  It also puts unnecessary pressure on the players who are thought of in this way.

Just ask the players of the very recent past who found themselves in this category before finally shedding the proverbial poker monkey in 2010 – Gavin Smith, Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi, Frank Kassela, Chris Bell and others.

But if the classification of great poker playing non-WSOP winners were to be applied, it would most certainly fit the $10,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. World Championship final table like a glove.

Rising above the supremely-talented group of bridesmaids was the venerable Fabrice Soulier, from France.  Perhaps more than anyone in the field, he's paid his dues at the poker table and away for the past decade.  During that span, he's experienced more than his share of close calls and disappointments.  Sure, the ride has been a one of a kind experience.  But at the end of every WSOP tournament he's entered since his debut in 2000, there's been sorrow and the lingering sense of unfulfilled destiny.

All that changed on Friday at 3:30 pm in front of a packed gallery of French supporters, rooting on their favorite poker player.  Soulier returned to the final table for what was an unscheduled fourth day of play.  All that stood in his way of victory was another tough, formidable foe, who was also seeking his breakthrough victory.  Indeed, Canadian poker pro Shawn Buchanan could very well have had many of the same things written and said about his poker background.  Both players fit the mold perfectly as poker pros who are well-respected by their peers.  Yet both remained bracelet-less -- at least until the final hand of the tournament when Soulier's two-pair scooped the last pot of the marathon during the Omaha High-Low Split round.

With his victory, Soulier became the third French WSOP winner this year.  The two previous champions were Bertrand Grospellier and Elie Payon.

The other final table players -- in addition to Soulier and Buchanan -- were also quite worthy of a victory based on their reputations and accomplishments.  This illustrious list included Andrey Zaichenko, Daniel Ospina, Tom Dwan, Matthew Ashton, Michael Binger and Jacobo Fernandez -- who finished third through eight respectively.

As champion, Soulier received the coveted WSOP gold bracelet.  He also collected a whopping $609,130 in prize money.  Buchanan, the runner up collected $463,480 but remains bracelet-less -- at least until the next time when he shall inevitably use this experience as added motivation, making victory all the sweeter, once achieved.

For a comprehensive recap of Event #37, please visit the WSOP.com tournament portal page HERE.

EVENT #37 CHAMPION – FABRICE SOULIER

The 2011 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. champion is Fabrice Soulier, from Las Vegas, NV.  Prior to moving to Las Vegas a few years ago, Soulier lived in Paris, France.

Soulier is a 42-year-old professional poker player.

Soulier was born in Avignon, France.  He is fluent in both French and English.

Soulier is a huge fan of cinema.  His favorite movies are by directors Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman and Martin Scorcese.

Prior to playing poker professionally, Soulier worked in film and television.  He started out as an assistant director in cinema for a few years.  Then, he began directing television shows, some of which became quite popular in France.

Soulier was able to break into television easily because of his credible background in film.  His programs won several awards in France.

About ten years ago, Soulier began taking poker more seriously.  He found that he enjoyed playing poker more than the grind of working on various television projects.  In fact, he said he became bored with working in TV.  So, he decided to take one year off from his profession and see if he could make money playing poker.  To his credit and surprise, he quickly became one of the top players in France.  Soulier won considerable sums of money playing in casinos around Europe, as well as on the tournament circuit. 

Before turning pro, Soulier admits that he spent many nights playing poker and then had to return to the television studio the following morning in order to finish production.  He says he finally realized he could not do both – work in television and play poker seriously.

Soulier is one of the most successful players to come out of the Aviation Club, which is Paris’ most famous poker room.

This marks the eighth consecutive year Soulier has attended the WSOP.  He has cashed at least once every year.

For his victory, Soulier collected $609,130 for first place. 

According to official records, Soulier now has 1 win, 6 final table appearances, and 18 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.

Soulier currently has $1,129,258 in career WSOP winnings.

Soulier was cheered on to victory by a large contingent of French supporters.  The crowd sang songs and created a very festive atmosphere, which is becoming increasingly common at the WSOP, particularly with players from abroad.

With this victory, Soulier now has nearly $4 million in overall live tournament earnings.  His first major victory took place at the Euro Finals of Poker, in 2001.  He has ten major tournament wins, all of which have taken place in the last ten years.

Soulier is to be classified as a professional poker player (in WSOP records and stats), since he has been a full-time player for the past decade.

Soulier becomes the third player from France to win a gold bracelet at the 2011 WSOP.  This is the most wins ever for players from France in a single year.  The previous French winners were Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and Elie Payan.

Soulier becomes the seventh French player in history to win a WSOP gold bracelet.  The previous winners were Patrick Bruel, Gilbert Gross, David Benyamine, Vanessa Hellebuyck, Bertrand Grospellier and Elie Payan.

WINNER INTERVIEW

On how it feels to finally win a WSOP gold bracelet:

“I feel very emotional right now.  I almost cried when I won.  I had to hold back my tears.  I feel great.  This is the best day of my poker career, by far.”

On 2011 potentially being France’s big year in poker:

“I hope it is.  We have a lot of good players now, and more and more are coming.  Some of them we do not even know yet.  But they are very good.  I think this is the start of France being a big nation for poker.”

On players he respects most:

“There are plenty of them.  It’s hard for me to name any without forgetting some.  In France, it’s Elky (Grospellier), David (Benyamine), Nicholas, Luc, and others.  I also play with John Juanda, Allen Cunningham, and these are all gentlemen.  I wish I could look like them at the poker table.  They are all so great, and I admire all of them.”

On what may have been different in this tournament versus other deep runs and final tables:

“I am very emotional as a player.  It is very demanding for me.  I have to control myself and work on this part of my game.  In this tournament, I did pretty well.  I went to yoga many times.  I did meditation.  It cooled me down a little bit and maybe it allowed me to win today.”

On the break in between the final table playing from 8 down to 2, and the heads-up match which ended the following day:

I slept very bad.  I had tons of messages on my phone, and it’s still ringing.  I had tons of messages on Facebook.  I could not read them all.  I could not stop reading them all.  I want to thank them all.  It was great getting all their support.”

THE FINAL TABLE

The official final table was comprised of the top eight finishers.

The final table contained no former gold bracelet winners.  This was the tenth final table so far this year which has no former WSOP title holders.  When Max Pescatori went out in 10th place, a first-time champion was guaranteed.

Six nations were represented at the final table – Canada (1 player), Columbia (1 player), France (1 player), Great Britain (1 player), Russia (1 player) and the United States (4 players). 

The top five finishers were connected to five different nations – including Canada, Columbia, France, Russia and the United States.

The runner up was Shawn Buchanan, a professional poker player from Abbotsford, BC (Canada).  This marked his 22nd time to cash at the WSOP.  He had eight in-the-money finishes at last year’s WSOP.  Buchanan earned $376,458 for this finish, which puts him now over $1.5 million in career earnings at the WSOP.

The third-place finisher was Andrey Zaichenko, from Moscow, Russia.  This was his second final table appearance this year, following a fifth-place finish in a Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event.  He is a 33-year-old poker pro and one of a growing number of talented Russian players.

The fourth-place finisher was Daniel Ospina, from Armenia, Columbia.  He has a very impressive record in mixed events over the past two years.  Ospina cashed in last year’s $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. event (12th).  He also had cashes in Razz (11th), the Mixed Event (37th) and Limit Hold’em (44th).

The fifth-place finisher was Tom Dwan, from Edison, NJ.  He is a high-stakes poker pro who has been one of the game’s most feared and respected players in recent years.  Dwan collected $134,480 in prize money.

The sixth-place finisher was Matthew Ashton, from Liverpool, UK.  This was his first time to cash at the WSOP.

The seventh-place finisher was Michael Binger, from Las Vegas, NV.  He is most certainly in the category of best players yet to have won a gold bracelet.  Binger now has 24 cashes at the WSOP – all since 2006.

The eighth-place finisher was Jacobo Fernandez, from Bronx, NY.  With this cash, Fernandez just crossed the $1 million threshold in career WSOP earnings.  This marked his third time to cash this year, which now includes 8th, 17th and 18th place finishes.

Final table play began at 9:30 pm on a Thursday afternoon.  Played concluded about seven hours later (playing time wise) at 3:30 pm, on Friday afternoon.  The final table was stopped at 3:30 am due to the late hour, and continued the next day with the heads-up finale.

When final table play began, Tom Dwan enjoyed a slight chip lead over Fabrice Soulier.  All the other players were behind by a 3 to 2 margin or more.

Clearly, Tom Dwan was the big draw at this final table.  Fueled by his emerging status as a high-stakes icon, Dwan had more than half the crowd quietly rooting him on.  However, Fabrice Soulier’s gallery mushroomed to the point where the atmosphere resembled France playing in the World Cup.  Once Dwan busted and all of his fans left disappointed, their seats were snapped up and filled by a much rowdier French contingent.  Soulier’s soldiers remained loyal to the end.  Meanwhile, Shawn Buchanan had his own smaller and quieter group of fellow-players mostly from the Vancouver area.

The final table was played on ESPN’s main stage.  The new final table set this year is getting raves in terms of design and appearance.  No stage in the history of poker has ever looked as spectacular.  Viewers will be able to see ESPN’s coverage again once the WSOP Main Event begins in July.

Action was streamed live over WSOP.com.  Viewers can tune in and watch most of this year’s final tables.  Although hole cards are not shown, viewers can follow an overhead camera as well as a pan-shot of the table.  The floor announcer provides an official account of the action. 

OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS

The top 24 finishers collected prize money.

The defending champion was Ian Gordon, from Missoula, MT.  He did not cash this year.

Among the former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this tournament -- aside from the players who made it to the final table – were the following:  Max Pescatori (9th), Ram Vaswani (12th), Chau Giang (15th), Frankie Odell (17th), Robert Williamson III (22nd) and Daniel Alaei (24th).

With his 15th-place finish in this tournament, Chau Giang now has 58 career cashes.  This currently ranks in a tie for seventh place on the all-time rankings.

Tournament results are to be included in all official WSOP records.  Results are also to be included in the 2011 WSOP “Player of the Year” race.

“WSOP Player of the Year” standings can be found at WSOP.com HERE.

ODDS AND ENDS

This tournament attracted 240 entries.  This was down one player from 2010 attendance, which was 241 players.

This is the 929th gold bracelet awarded in World Series of Poker history.  This figure includes every official WSOP event ever played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded.  It also includes the 16 gold bracelets awarded to date at WSOP Europe (2007-2010).  Moreover for the first time ever, one gold bracelet was awarded for this year’s winner of the WSOP Circuit National Championship.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament ends very late).  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.  The ceremony usually starts around 2:20 pm.  The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played.  The entire presentation is open to the public and media.  Video and photography is permitted by both the public and members of the media.

Soulier’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Saturday, June 25th.  The national anthem of France will be played in honor of his victory.  This is the third time at this year’s WSOP the French National Anthem has been played.

H.O.R.S.E. EVENT HISTORY

2010 was the year the H.O.R.S.E. World Championship had a $10,000 buy-in.  During the first four years, the H.O.R.S.E. World Championship buy-in was $50,000.  The first three tournaments (2006-2008) were televised by ESPN.  The 2009 championship was not televised. 

2010 also included a new event called the $50,000 buy-in “Poker Players Championship.”  The tournament used the H.O.R.S.E. format, plus two additional games – Pot-Limit Omaha and No-Limit Hold’em.  Organizers expected that the Poker Players Championship would become the premier big buy-in event of the WSOP.  Hence, the H.O.R.S.E. World Championship was grouped with other “World Championship” level events for other games, which have a $10,000 buy-in.

The forbearer of H.O.R.S.E. was an event called S.H.O.E. (a mix of games including Seven-Card-Stud, Limit Hold’em, Omaha High-Low Split, and Stud High-Low Split), which was introduced at the 2001 WSOP.

H.O.R.S.E. was played for the first time as a gold bracelet event at the 2002 WSOP.  Organizers thought it would be interesting to hold one H.O.R.S.E. tournament to go with the S.H.O.E. event, which took place at Binion’s “Horse-shoe.”

The first-ever H.O.R.S.E. tournament at the WSOP was won by Johnny “World” Hennigan.  (NOTE:  In previous reports, it had been written that Doyle Brunson was the first HORSE champion, from 2003.  However, John Hennigan’s first gold bracelet victory was in HORSE, held the previous year)

Here’s the list of the biggest buy-in WSOP H.O.R.S.E. event champions, by year:

2002:  John Hennigan

2003:  Doyle Brunson

2004:  Scott Fischman

2005:  No Tournament

2006:  David “Chip” Reese

2007:  Freddy Deeb

2008:  Scotty Nguyen

2009:  David Bach

2010:  Ian Gordon

2011:  Fabrice Soulier

H.O.R.S.E. is an acronym for five popular poker games.  H.O.R.S.E. tournaments include a rotation of the following games -- Hold'em, Omaha High-Low Split, Razz, Seven-Card Stud, and Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split (also called Eight-or-Better).  Many purists consider H.O.R.S.E. to be the ultimate test of poker skill, since it requires that players play all games well in order to win.  This claim was perhaps best illustrated at the 2006 World Series of Poker, where H.O.R.S.E. returned to the tournament schedule after a long hiatus.  For more than two decades, the late poker legend Chip Reese had been widely regarded as the best all-around player in the world.  Appropriately, he won the inaugural tournament which cost $50,000 to enter and became the first H.O.R.S.E. world champion.

The rotation of games in this tournament lasts eight hands. In other words – following eight dealt hands of Hold'em, there are eight hands of Omaha High-Low followed by eight hands of Razz, and so forth.

TOURNAMENT PLAY

The tournament was scheduled to be played over three consecutive days/nights – which ran into a fourth day due to the late finish.

Day One began with 240 entries and ended with 173 survivors. 

Day Two began with 173 players and ended with 23 survivors.

Day Three began with 23 players, which played down to two players.

Day Four began with 2 players and played down to the winner.

The tournament officially began on Tuesday, June 21st at 5 pm.  The tournament officially ended early Friday afternoon, June 25th at 3:30 pm.

2011 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #37 the 2011 WSOP has attracted 47,079 combined total entries.  $75,551,010 in prize money has been awarded to winners. 

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of nationality of gold bracelet winners has been:

United States (24)

Canada (4)

Great Britain (3)

France (3)

Russia (2)

Ukraine (1)

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:

United States (19)

Canada (4)

Great Britain (3)

France (3)

Ukraine (2)

Russia (2)

Israel (1)

Honduras (1)

Indonesia (1)

Germany (1)

Through the conclusion of this event, the home-states of (American) winners have been:

California (5)

Nevada (3)

New York (3)

Texas (2)

Illinois (2)

Florida (2)

New Jersey (1)

Tennessee (1)

Connecticut (1)

Indiana (1)

Maryland (1)

Virginia (1)

Michigan (1)

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets has been:

Professional Players (29):  Jake Cody, Cheech Barbaro, Eugene Katchalov, Allen Bari, Harrison Wilder, Matt Perrins, Sean Getzwiller, Viacheslav Zhukov, David Diaz, Andrew Badecker, Tyler Bonkowski, Brian Rast, John Juanda, Aaron Steury, Darren Woods, Jason Somerville, Bertrand Grospellier, John Monnette, Elie Payon, Mark Radoja, Chris

Viox, Dan Idema, Andy Frankenberger, Chris Lee, Sam Stein, Mark Schmid, Jason Mercier, Mikhail Lakhitov and Fabrice Soulier

Semi-Pros (4):  Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii Kovalchuk, Eric Rosawig

Amateurs (4):  Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays, James Hess, Kirk Caldwell

Since tracking first started in 2005, this year’s WSOP has the greatest disparity of professionals winning over semi-pros and amateurs than any year recorded, so far – with 31 out of 37 events being won by pros or semi-pros.

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 8 of the 37 winners (22 percent) marked the first time the new champion had ever cashed at the WSOP.

Every WSOP held over the past 11 years has included at least one multiple gold bracelet champion (meaning two or more wins within the same year).  The last year the WSOP was comprised exclusively of single-event winners was back in 1999.  The record for most multiple gold bracelet winners within a single year was in 2009, when five players managed to win two or more titles.  So far, no player has yet won two gold bracelets (this year).

The streak of consecutive male WSOP gold bracelet winners has now reached 196 consecutive events.  Aside from the annual Ladies Championship, the last female player to win a WSOP tournament open to both sexes was Vanessa Selbst, in 2008.  The longest “cold” streak for female players occurred between years 1982 and 1996, when 221 consecutive open events passed without a female champion.

The highest finish by any female (open events) at this year’s WSOP was by two players -- Maria Ho, who finished second ($5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em) and Kim Nguyen, who also finished as the runner up ($1,500 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em).

The highest finish by any defending champion at this year’s WSOP was by David Baker, who finished in sixth place after winning the previous $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball World Championship.

New tournament records set at the 2011 WSOP (to date):

Biggest Heads-Up tournament prize pool in history ($3,040,000) – Event #2

Largest live Omaha High-Low Split Tournament in history (925 entries) – Event #3

Largest live Six-Handed tournament in poker history (1,920 entries) – Event #10

Biggest Deuce-to-Seven tournament prize pool in history ($1,184,400) – Event #16

Largest live $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start (3157 entries) – Event #18

Largest live $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start (3175 entries) – Event #20

Largest consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,332 entries) – Event #18 and Event #20

Largest live Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in poker history (1,071 entries) – Event #22

Largest Mixed-Game (Eight-Game Mix) in poker history (489 entries) – Event #23

Largest Seniors tournament in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30

Biggest Seniors No-Limit Hold’em championship prize pool in history ($3,376,800) – Event #30

Largest single-day live tournament start in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30

Largest consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,580 entries) – Event #30/Event #32 (broke Event #18/Event #20 record from earlier in 2011 WSOP)

 Largest four-consecutive days field sizes in poker history (2,500+3,752+2,828+3,144 =12,224 entries) -- Events 28, 30, 32, 34, June 16-19, 2011

New player records set at the 2011 WSOP (to date):

The 35-year span between Artie Cobb’s first cash in this event (1976) and most recent cash in the same event (2011) represents the longest time span in WSOP history.  He accomplished this in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split (Event #25).

Phil Hellmuth added to his record as the individual all-time leader in cashes (81) and final table appearances (42).

RAISING AWARENESS:  BAD BEAT ON CANCER AND THE WSOP

Bad Beat on Cancer was created in 2003 by Phil Gordon and Rafe Furst as an easy and fun way for poker players to donate to the Prevent Cancer Foundation.  It all began when Chris Moneymaker pledged 1 percent of his 2003 Main Event winnings and went on to capture the championship, contributing $25,000 when he was awarded the $2.500,000 first- place prize.  By taking the pledge, wearing the patch, and joining ‘Team 1%’, players can feel good supporting a cause that only benefits when they win.  As the official charity of the WSOP, pledges simply indicate to the payouts staff that they are donating 1 percent of their winnings, and the funds are automatically withheld.  A tax receipt is generated and sent to their mailing address.  Several high profile professionals have made ‘life pledges’ of 1 percent of all their winnings -- including Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth Jr., Lee Childs, Paul Wasicka, Andy Bloch, Dennis Phillips, and others.  Since 2003, the initiative has raised over $3.500,000 for cancer prevention research, education, and community outreach programs.  Players can pick up a patch and join Team 1% by stopping by the Bad Beat on Cancer booth, located at the 2011 WSOP opposite the Amazon Room in the concourse.  The Nevada Cancer Institute based in Las Vegas is a benefiting charity from the Bad Beat on Cancer.