TOURNAMENT HEADLINES:

Shootout at the WSOP Corral

Justin Pechie Wins Limit Hold’em Shootout

Connecticut Poker Pro Rakes-In $167,060 in Pot

Former Gold Bracelet Champ Eugene Katchalov Takes Fourth

Full House at the 2011 WSOP -- Tournament Attendance Shows No Signs of Slowing

No Female Winner Reaches 200-Event Mark – Three Years and Counting

41 Gold Bracelets Won – 17 More Still to Go

OVERVIEW

At every World Series of Poker there comes a point in time when the heart of a very long and enigmatic tunnel is reached. 

To the rear is a faint flicker of light way off in the distance -- an entry point when the long journey initially began.  Straight ahead on an unwavering rail of destiny is a glittering magnet of temptation, beckoning the engines of time to advance closer.

At the 2011 WSOP, that moment in time was reached on a Sunday afternoon at the Rio in Las Vegas.  To the rear was the conclusion of some 40 gold bracelet events, many record-breaking, as well as riveting.  Straight ahead on the grand horizon of every poker player’s train of big dreams is the beaming luminosity of the WSOP Main Event Championship.

It’s coming.  It’s getting closer.  Now, it’s just 10 days away.

Tick tock.  Tick tock.  Tick tock.

For the 46,547 poker players who have already trekked to Las Vegas from more than 100 different nations (through Event 41) – and who are on pace to make this year the largest, grandest, most spectacular WSOP in its 42-year-history -- the time clock on winning a WSOP gold bracelet is fast expiring.

Justin Pechie doesn’t have to worry any longer about the pressures of winning.  He just won the $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em Shootout championship and, with it, his first WSOP title.  This was the 41st gold bracelet tournament (of 58) on this year’s WSOP schedule.

Pechie overcame a strong field of 538 limit players en route to a payout worth $167,060.  He was also presented with the ultimate achievement in the game – the WSOP gold bracelet.

Pechie is a 26-year-old professional poker player from Putnam, CT.  He has been an online player for about six years, and has been quite successful up until the events of what is now called “Black Friday.”  Now faced with the prospect of losing his income and livelihood, Pechie is seriously considering a relocation to Canada.  However, before doing so he decided to make one major trip to Las Vegas for this year’s WSOP.  That turned out to be a good thing.  He’s now considerably richer and joins the most elite club of poker champions.

This was the third and final shootout tournament at the 2011 WSOP.  A shootout tournament means players advance based on winning a series of table matches.  The shootout format is single elimination.  The number of matches depends on the number of tournament entries.  In this event, the winner was required to win three consecutive table matches.

Justin Pechie did exactly that.  As one might say -- his train finally came in.

For a comprehensive recap of Event #41, please visit the WSOP.com tournament portal page HERE.

EVENT #41 CHAMPION – JUSTIN PECHIE

The 2011 World Series of Poker $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em Shootout champion is Justin Pechie, from Putnam, CT.

Pechie is a 26-year-old professional poker player.

Pechie was born in Putnam, CT.

Pechie attended college; however, he admits he was not a good student.  He was interested in going into broadcasting and perhaps pursuing a career in sports talk radio.  He chose not to pursue those ambitions once he discovered the ability to make money playing poker.

Pechie worked as a deli slicer in a supermarket before playing poker full time.

Pechie has been quite successful playing poker – both live and online.  He has major tournament wins at Foxwoods in Connecticut. 

During his first year or two of playing full time, Pechie started out playing $4-8 Limit Hold’em at Foxwoods.  He gradually moved up to $20-40 Limit Hold’em.

This was Pechie’s third time to make it to a WSOP final table.  He took a third-place finish in the $2,500 buy-in NLHE event, in 2006 – which was the first year he attended the WSOP.  The following year, he finished fourth in the $2,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em championship.

For this victory, Pechie collected $167,060 for first place. 

According to official records, Pechie now has 1 win, 3 final table appearances and 14 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.

Pechie currently has $530,894 in career WSOP winnings.

Prior to winning this event, Pechie entered eight events at the 2011 WSOP.  This was his second cash in 2011.

Pechie is to be classified as a professional poker player (in WSOP records and stats), since he has been a full-time player for about three years.

WINNER INTERVIEW

On how the events of Black Friday were connected to his decision to play at this year’s WSOP:

“I almost did not come this year.  I was going to set up some online stuff (in Canada) so I could continue to play there.  So, I was not intending to come out this year.  But I went ahead and decided to come out here for a month.”

On what made the difference in his victory playing shootouts:

“I spent a lot of time the last few months playing in six-max games….I think that helped me a lot.”

On the difficulty of winning a shootout-style tournament versus a regular event with huge fields:

“I think it’s easier.  Shootouts are my favorite kind of tournament because there is more short-handed play throughout the tournament.  That gives an edge to people who play short-handed.  In a regular tournament, it’s always a full ring game until you make it to the final table.  The Shootout format gives people who play short-handed well an edge.”

On being very low on chips when play was three-handed and then coming back to win:

“I am kind of young.  But I have been playing a long time.  I have enough experience to know you don’t give up.  I’m never going to give up, because I am here to win.”

On what it means to win a WSOP gold bracelet:

“It means a lot.  But I must be honest that the money means more, because of the ‘Black Friday’ thing.  So, I have a bigger cushion to fall back on, with the uncertainty of online poker.  But the gold bracelet does mean a lot to me.”

On what he plans next:

“I am going to play the same number of events (I planned).  I am different from a lot of people who are backed and can play whatever they want.  They can play all the $10,000 buy-in events. I have learned that those big buy-in events are really, really tough and so I don’t bother with them much.  I stay focused on the softer tournaments.”

THE FINAL TABLE

The official final table was comprised of the top 10 finishers.  The shootout format is different from other finales, which are usually nine-handed or less.

The final table contained only one former gold bracelet winner – Eugene Katchalov.

Two nations were represented at the final table – France (1 player) and the United States (9 players). 

The runner up was Dale Eberle, from Tega Kay, SC.  He is a 58-year-old retired firefighter.  Had Eberle won this tournament, he would have been the oldest winner in 2011.  Instead, he settled for a nice consolation prize amounting to $103,454.

The third-place finisher was Mathieu Jacqmin, from France.  He came close to becoming the fourth gold bracelet champion from France at this year’s WSOP.  Jacqmin had the chip lead when play was at three-handed.  But he went cold late and ended up in third place.

The fourth-place finisher was gold bracelet winner Eugene Katchalov, from New York City, by way of his native country – the Ukraine.  He hoped to become the first player this year to win two WSOP titles, following an earlier win in the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud event.  Katchalov came very close to achieving victory, but went card dead late in the tournament.  Nevertheless, with four cashes in 2011 he is among the players now in the chase for WSOP “Player of the Year.”

The fifth-place finisher was Jordan Rich, from Portland, OR.  This marked his third time to make it to a WSOP final table.  He’s also cashed twice in the Main Event Championship.  Rich is a graduate of the University of Oregon. 

The sixth-place finisher was Stephen Bass, from Half Moon Bay, CA.  He is a former college tennis player who graduated from the University of Notre Dame.  This is the first year Bass attended the WSOP and also marked his first time to cash.

The seventh-place finisher was Adam Tyburski, from Bellevue, WA.  He cashed in this same event last year.  Tyburski is a graduate of the University of Washington.

The eighth-place finisher was Dom Denotaristefani, from Mendham, NJ.  This was his second final table appearance this year (5th place in $10,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em World Championship).

The ninth-place finisher was Chris Kwon, from Palisades Park, NJ.  He is a graduate of Rutgers University.

The tenth-place finisher was Ari (Alan) Engel, from Las Vegas, NV.  He has previously won two WSOP Circuit gold rings.

Final table play began Sunday at 3 p.m.  Played concluded about 8 hours and 40 minutes later (playing time wise) that night at 11:40 p.m.

When final table play began, all players started with an equal number of chips.  Such is the format of Shootout tournaments.

The final table was played on ESPN’s so-called secondary stage.  The main stage was used for the heads-up finale of the Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em championship, which was played at the same time.  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 60 finishers collected prize money.

The defending champion was Brendan Taylor.  He did not cash this year.

Among the former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this tournament were the following:  Brock Parker (15th), Todd Witteles (34th), Hoyt Corkins (53rd) and Ivo Donev (55th).  

Hal Lubarsky (North Las Vegas, NV) made it to the semi-final round and cashed.  He is a remarkable inspiration to many people in and out of the game.  Lubarsky is blind.  He uses an assistant to read his cards, which are seen and then whispered into his ear.  Lubarsky then makes all decisions.  He was one of the major stars of the 2007 WSOP Main Event, when he cashed in 197th place.

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.  Phil Hellmuth has a slight lead currently.

ODDS AND ENDS

This tournament attracted 538 entries.  Participation declined slightly from last year, as the same event attracted 548 entries.  As for the 2011 WSOP – overall Limit Hold’em tournament numbers remain flat.  Seven-Card Stud tournament numbers have actually declined.  All other forms of poker are up, with some variants up significantly.

The average age of players was slightly higher for this tournament, than average.  The average age of entrants was 37.2 years.  The average age of players that cashed was 35.9 years.  The average age of player who made it to the final table was 31.4 years.  The winner was age 26.  This is consistent with an overall trend at the 2011 WSOP which shows younger players outperforming older players.

The total number of females entering this tournament was 25.  That figure represents 4.6 percent of the field.

This is the 933rd 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 p.m.  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.

Justin Pechie’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Monday, June 27th.  The national anthem of the USA will be played in honor of his victory. 

TOURNAMENT PLAY:  WHAT’S A SHOOTOUT?

A shootout tournament means players advance based on winning a series of table matches.  The shootout format is single elimination.  The number of matches depends on the number of tournament entries.  In this event, the winner was required to win three consecutive table matches.

Each match is played like a single-table satellite, with only one winner advancing from each table.

The tournament was played over three consecutive days/nights.

Day One began with 538 players.  There were 60 matches played.

Day Two resumed with 60 players.  There were 10 matches played with 6 players starting at each table.  At the end of Day Two, 10 players (all the winners) advanced to Day Three, which was the final table.

Day Three resumed with 10 players, which was the official final table.

The tournament officially began on Friday, June 24th at noon.  The tournament officially ended on Sunday night, June 26th at 11:40 p.m.

2011 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #41 the 2011 WSOP has attracted 46,547 combined total entries.  $83,068,010 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 (25)

Canada (5)

Great Britain (3)

France (3)

Ukraine (3)

Russia (2)

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

United States (23)

Canada (5)

Great Britain (3)

France (3)

Russia (2)

Ukraine (1)

Israel (1)

Honduras (1)

Indonesia (1)

Germany (1)

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

California (5)

Nevada (3)

New York (3)

Texas (2)

Illinois (2)

Florida (2)

Connecticut (2)

New Jersey (1)

Tennessee (1)

Indiana (1)

Maryland (1)

Virginia (1)

Michigan (1)

North Dakota (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 (32):  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, Fabrice Soulier, Mitch Schock, Matt Jarvis, Justin Pechie

Semi-Pros (5):  Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii Kovalchuk, Eric Rosawig, Arkadiy Tsinis

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 37 out of 41 events being won by pros or semi-pros.

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 8 of the 41 winners (19 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 this year, no player has yet won two gold bracelets.

The streak of consecutive male WSOP gold bracelet winners has now reached 200 consecutive events.  Aside from the annual Ladies Poker 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 finished second ($5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em).  Kim Nguyen 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 after winning the previous $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball World Championship finished in sixth place in defense of his title.

Reigning world poker champions rarely perform well the following year after their victory.  Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was the last world champion to win a gold bracelet the next year, which happened in 2001.  Perhaps it’s due to the increasing size of the fields.  But there’s also great pressure on the champions to do well.  What follows is a list of the only world champions in history to win a gold bracelet after winning the championship during the previous year:

Johnny Moss (1975)

Doyle Brunson (1977)

Bobby Baldwin (1979)

Johnny Chan (1988)

Hamid Dastmalchi (1993)

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson (2001)

By contrast, players who make it to the final table of the Main Event Championship (November Nine) one year tend to do quite well in subsequent WSOP years.  Consider that last year, three former Main Event finalists won gold bracelets – Eric Buchman, Tex Barch, and Scott Montgomery.  This year, Matt Jarvis won his first gold bracelet one year after making it to the November Nine.

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

Largest Mixed Pot-Limit tournament in history (606 entries) – Event #39

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 (82) and final table appearances (42).