Things Happen to Good People
Marine and Iraqi War Veteran Wins Gold Bracelet at WSOP
Wins $1,000 Buy-In No-Limit Hold’em Championship
Poker Player Rakes-In $455,356 Pot
Jr. Cashes Again – Now Up to 83 for Career (All-Time Leader)
Full House at
the 2011 WSOP -- Tournament Attendance Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
Bracelets Won – 13 More Still to Go
often uses the terminology of warfare, which is ridiculous.
Poker is not war.
War is war.
Ken Griffin knows this fact all
too well. He was once a proud United States Marine, where he served his
country for 10 years. He served in various military posts around the
world -- including Iraq. Following his distinguished service, Griffin’s
career duties shifted to the role of civilian. Yet he remained committed
to supporting the efforts of servicemen and women, many of whom were not simply
his clients or business associates – but his close friends.
Now employed as a defense
contractor, Griffin has spent considerable time traveling to and from both Iraq
and Afghanistan. He’s seen more than his share of life-threatening
situations, and loss. Griffin knows all too well, that war has no winners
-- only losers.
Yet, Griffin perhaps more than
anyone also realizes and understands the fragile balance between incremental
success and looming failure. War is not like any card game, where there’s
a fundamental respect for a common set of rules. War is not like poker,
where some sense of victory is assured. Unlike poker, war does not bestow
fame or riches upon those who partake in it.
Ken Griffin took a well-earned
leave of absence from all that is wrong in some parts of the world, in an
effort to reconnect with what's right and enjoyable to millions of his fellow
citizens. He arrived back in the United States and decided to attend the
2011 World Series of Poker for a couple of days. Griffin hoped to play in
an event, or perhaps two.
Griffin entered the most recent $1,000
buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which was packed to near capacity with
2,890 players. The fact was, Ken Griffin was but one of thousands of
mostly nameless faces in a very large crowd of dreamers.
later, Griffin’s face is no longer nameless. He’s become a decorated
poker champion. Griffin defeated a tough final table lineup and won what
he considers to be a life-changing amount of prize money -- $455,356. He
also received his first WSOP gold bracelet, a well-deserved amulet that he will
wear just as proudly as the many medals he’s earned in battle.
34-years-old. He lives in Houston, TX when he's not working
overseas. Incredibly, this marked the first time Griffin has ever cashed
in a WSOP tournament of any kind.
Griffin’s journey from the
battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to the Rio in Las Vegas and the world’s
most prestigious poker event is almost a surreal disconnect from his daily
reality. Yet his voyage does not end with his victory. In fact, the
real winner of this tournament may very well be his mother.
Sadly, Griffin’s mother was
recently diagnosed with a very serious illness. He is back in the U.S.,
in part, to make sure his mother will receive the proper medical treatment she
needs. Following his victory, Griffin revealed his plans for the prize
money he won – and it’s not to enter dozens more poker tournaments.
“I’m going to take care of her
and be closer to home,” Griffin said in a post-tournament interview. “I’m
going to be transferring money into her account as soon as I get it. You
know, she’s a senior, working-class, she’s going through some chemotherapy and
medicine is expensive. She lives paycheck to paycheck, so I’m really looking
forward to helping her out.”
there are fairly tale endings. Then, there are real life stories of good
things happening to good people like Ken Griffin – a war hero, a devoted family
man, and now….a WSOP champion.
For a comprehensive recap of Event
#45, please visit the WSOP.com tournament portal page HERE.
EVENT #45 CHAMPION – KEN GRIFFIN
World Series of Poker $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em champion is Ken Griffin,
from Houston, TX.
Griffin is a
34-year-old consultant for a defense contractor.
born in Pasadena, TX.
working as a civilian, Griffin served in the military. He was a United States Marine for ten years.
As a U.S.
Marine, Griffin served on active duty in Iraq.
As a civilian
contractor, Griffin has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
learned how to play poker from his younger brother, who was with him during his
moment of victory.
attended the WSOP during each of the past three years. Yet, this is only the third event he has
played. This was the first time Griffin
ever cashed in a WSOP tournament.
victory, Griffin collected $455,356 for first place.
official records, Griffin now has 1 win, 1 final table appearance and 1
in-the-money finish at the WSOP.
Griffin currently has
$455,356 in career WSOP winnings.
This was the
only event Griffin entered this year.
Griffin is to be
classified as an amateur poker player (in WSOP records and stats), since he has
a full-time job out of the industry.
What do you do as a defense
did about 10 years in the Marine Corps and after that I got out and I started
supporting the military and the government providing media expertise, strategic
communications planning, media analysis, that sort of thing. I spent about three and a half years in Iraq,
between Marine Corps and consulting and eight months in Afghanistan as a consultant
and various other places.”
How did you get into poker?
little brother taught me to play real poker.
I dabbled with my friends and I came home on leave and my little brother
had gotten into poker, and so I started going to card rooms with him and
learning what real poker was and listening to my brother. You know, from there I just started reading
and playing and it just grew from there.”
How many World Series of Poker events
have you played, can you recall?
“This is my
third event. I played in one event one
year and didn’t do so hot. A couple
years ago I played in an event and I came about 90 people from the money. And this is my first event this year.”
Did you really think you could or
would win this tournament?
“Not to sound
cocky, but from Day One, I knew I was going to go deep. There were three of us playing. The other two guys are way better than me,
and we all traded a piece of each other’s action. I staked one guy and we all traded
action. Both of those guys busted out so
I said it’s up to me now, so just kind of went from there. But I was winning pots, picking up cards when
I needed to, winning races when I needed to.
And I just had a really good feeling.”
How did you get from overseas to the
came home from Afghanistan because my mom is sick. So, I came home to take care of her and be
closer to home and originally I wasn’t even supposed to be here. I was supposed to be in Afghanistan, but I
guess everything happens for a reason.”
And so is this something that is going
to be able to help take care of your mom?
“Oh, absolutely. I’m transferring money to her account as soon
as I get it. You know, she’s a senior,
working-class, she’s going through chemotherapy and medicine is expensive. She lives pay-check to pay-check, so I’m
looking really forward to helping her out.”
THE FINAL TABLE
final table was comprised of the top nine finishers.
table contained just one former gold bracelet winner – Antonio Esfandiari.
nations were represented at the final table – France (1 player), Germany (1
player), Great Britain (1 player), and the United States (6 players).
The runner up
was Jean Luc Marais, from Paris, France.
He came very close to becoming the fourth French gold bracelet winner at
this year’s WSOP. Second place paid $282,676.
bracelet winner Antonio Esfandiari finished in seventh place.
play began Tuesday at 7 p.m. Played
concluded the following day at 1 a.m.
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
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 297
finishers collected prize money.
Jr. finished 28th in this event, marking his 83rd career
cash at the WSOP. He is the all-time
leader in that category.
are to be included in all official WSOP records. Results are also to be included in the 2011
WSOP “Player of the Year” race.
of the Year” standings can be found at WSOP.com HERE.
ODDS AND ENDS
attracted yet another huge field of 2,890 entries.
age of entrants was 37 years.
There were 131
females who played in this tournament, representing 4.5 percent of the field.
This is the 937th
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
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.
bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Thursday, June 30th. The national anthem of the USA will be played
in honor of his victory.
2011 WSOP STATISTICS
Through the conclusion
of Event #45 the 2011 WSOP has attracted 53,018 combined total entries. $93,745,185 in prize money has been awarded
conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of nationality of gold bracelet
winners has been:
conclusion of this tournament, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has
conclusion of this tournament, the home-states of (American) winners have been:
New York (3)
conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of professional poker players to
semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets has been:
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 Payan, 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, Ben Lamb, Rep Porter and Andre Akkari
Semi-Pros (5): Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii
Kovalchuk, Eric Rosawig, Arkadiy Tsinis
Amateurs (5): Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays, James Hess, Kirk
Caldwell, Ken Griffin
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 40 out of 45 events being won by pros or semi-pros.
conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 9 of the 45 winners (20
percent) marked the first time the new champion had ever cashed at the 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 204 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.
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).
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.
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:
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 in 2010.
tournament records set at the 2011 WSOP (to date):
Heads-Up tournament prize pool in history ($3,040,000) – Event #2
live Omaha High-Low Split Tournament in history (925 entries) – Event #3
live Six-Handed tournament in poker history (1,920 entries) – Event #10
Deuce-to-Seven tournament prize pool in history ($1,184,400) – Event #16
live $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start
(3157 entries) – Event #18
live $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start
(3175 entries) – Event #20
consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,332 entries)
– Event #18 and Event #20
live Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in poker history (1,071 entries) – Event #22
Mixed-Game (Eight-Game Mix) in poker history (489 entries) – Event #23
Seniors tournament in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30
Seniors No-Limit Hold’em championship prize pool in history ($3,376,800) –
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) –
Biggest Pot-Limit Omaha prize pool in live poker history
($3,393,400) – Event #42
records set at the 2011 WSOP (to date):
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).
Hellmuth Jr. added to his record as the individual all-time leader in cashes
(82) 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
Various categories and statistics will be updated with each gold
bracelet event as they are completed.