A HISTORIC NIGHT AT 2011 WSOP EUROPE OPENER IN CANNES

October 09, 2011 - 09:00:15 PM EST  | 

A HISTORIC NIGHT AT 2011 WSOP EUROPE OPENER IN CANNES
Official Report
2011 World Series of Poker Europe
Hotel Majestic Barriere / Le Croisette Casino Barriere
Cannes, France
Event #1
Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em
Buy-In: 2,500 (Euros)
Number of Entries: 360
Total Prize Pool: 864,000 (Euros)
Number of Places Paid:  36
First Place Prize:  215,999 (Euros)
October 7-9, 2011



TOURNAMENT HEADLINES

A Historic Night at WSOP Europe Opener in Cannes

Guillaume Humbert Wins First Event at 2011 WSOP Europe

Humbert Becomes First WSOP Gold Bracelet Winner Ever from Switzerland

Ski-Resort Bartender Wins Historic Victory on French Riviera

Japanese Player Maeda Azusa Finishes Second – Japan’s Highest WSOP Finish Ever

Phil Hellmuth Comes Up Short Again – 11-Time Champ Finishes Seventh

Hellmuth Edges Closer to Ben Lamb in 2011 WSOP “Player of the Year” Race

Big Numbers, So Far:  Attendance at 2011 WSOP Europe Opener Up 47 Percent Over Last Year


OVERVIEW

Cannes, France (October 9, 2011) – The first World Series of Poker tournament ever held in France was expected to be an historic occasion.  But what happened during the last three days in Cannes on the fabulous French Riviera surpassed even the most optimistic of hopes and expectations for players and poker fans, alike.
 
Guillaume Humbert, a 26-year-old bartender from Nyon, Switzerland won the first event on this year’s WSOP Europe schedule.  He topped a stacked field of 360 players in the €2500  buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which was held at the Barrière Casino/Majestic Barrière Hotel in Cannes, France.

Humbert's unlikely victory was remarkable for many reasons.  First and foremost, he became the first WSOP gold bracelet winner in history from Switzerland.  Despite the mountain nation's status as the vault for most of the world’s fortunes and being one of the world’s most advanced nations smack dab in the middle of poker-crazed Europe, it’s a bit of a surprise that no player from Switzerland had ever won a WSOP championship.  But Humbert finally shattered more than four decades of futility on a gorgeous Sunday night on the French Riviera, with the poker world watching and cheering every bet and raise.

Perhaps just as remarkable was this being not only Humbert's first time ever to cash in a WSOP tournament, but also his first-time ever to play in a live major event of any kind.  He had virtually no record of live tournament success.  Humbert has surely played and enjoyed success as an online player.  But his stunning victory in the heart of Europe against many of the world’s top poker players was memorable as well as historical.  When he isn’t playing poker, Humbert normally works as a bartender at a ski resort in the Swiss Alps.

Humbert collected his first career gold bracelet and became the first WSOP champion ever crowned on French soil.  He also received €215,999 for first place.  The payout is equal to about $288,899 (USD).  After his unexpected victory, Humbert said he hopes to invest some of the prize money in opening up his own small tavern and running the bar during the winter season.

Maeda Azusa, a 39-year-old, part-time player from Tokyo, Japan finished as the runner up.  Had Azusa won, he would have been the first Japanese WSOP champion ever.  At one point it surely looked like he would make poker history instead of Guillaume.  Azusa began heads-up play with a sizable chip lead, but melted down in a frenzied finish that left the Swiss rival as the ultimate champion. 

Like the winner Guillaume – this was Azusa's first recorded WSOP in-the-money finish.  Just as incredible was that this was his first major live poker tournament cash, after toiling away online for some time.  As things turned out, he settled for the consolation prize of becoming the highest finisher in history from Japan. 

It’s rare to see poker legend Phil Hellmuth upstaged in any tournament, but that’s exactly what happened on the final day when the 11-time gold bracelet winner was bounced out of the tournament in seventh place, just one spot off the official final table of six players.  Hellmuth was shooting for his 12th career gold bracelet victory.  He hoped to add another degree of separation to his status as the all-time WSOP wins leader.  Hellmuth, currently with 11 career victories, remains one win ahead of fellow-legends Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan. 

The one caveat Hellmuth can take away from the high finish perhaps was being able to inch closer to Ben Lamb in the 2011 WSOP “Player of the Year” race.  Hellmuth will have to make at least another deep run to have a shot at catching Lamb, who is still alive in the WSOP Main Event and is one of this year's famed "November Nine."

This was the first of seven World Series of Poker tournaments to be played in Cannes, France.  The field size (360 players) represented a whopping 47 percent increase from the similar Six-Handed opening tournament held at last year’s WSOP Europe, played in London.

If the remaining six gold bracelet events are anything like the whirlwind of surprises in the opener, there’s no doubt WSOP Europe in Cannes is destined to be one of the most memorable tournament series in history.

For more information including all results and updates from this tournament, please visit the portal page at wsop.com HERE.


THE WINNER – GUILLAUME HUMBERT

The winner of the 2500 (Euro) Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em tournament (WSOP Europe -- Event #1) was Guillaume Humbert.  He currently resides in Nyon, Switzerland.

Humbert is 26-years-old.  He is single.

Humbert works as a bartender, or more precisely a bar man at a resort located in the Swiss Alps.  He routinely works long hours during the winter months when the resort is filled with visitors on holiday.  Prior to working in the bar trade, he was a cook.  Humbert started playing poker a few years ago online, during his off time during the warmer months of the year.

Humbert speaks three languages – French, German, and English.

Humbert started playing poker in 2008.  He watched the WSOP Main Event on television, which promoted him to want to play more and one day attend the WSOP in Las Vegas.

Humbert had never played in a live tournament before, prior to this event.  He admits to losing when he first began taking poker seriously two years ago.  However, he took some time off and returned to his game and has since been a winning player.

Earlier this year, Humbert intended to attend the WSOP in Las Vegas for the first time.  However, he did not believe he was ready to play and decided the distance and bankroll requirements were too challenging.  When he heard that WSOP Europe would be held in France, Humbert adjusted his plans and decided to come to Cannes instead.

Humbert was fortunate on Day One and ended up in the top third of the field.  He ended Day Two as chip leader, which concluded with 12 players.  He lost the chip lead when play started at the final table.  When play was at five handed, Humbert was the shortest stack at the table and seemed destined for a quick finish.  But he regained his advantage late when play was heads up and eventually won.

Humbert drove to Cannes alone with the intent to play in only the first two WSOP Europe events, which was this opener and the 1000 buy-in which was Event #2.  He now plans to play a few more events, including the Main Event.

Humbert collected 215,999 (Euros) for first place.  The payout is equal to about $288,899 (USD).

With this victory, Humbert now has one win, one final table appearance, and one cash at the WSOP.  His career WSOP earnings now total $288,899 (USD).

In 2011, through the conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 13 of the 58 gold bracelet winners so far marked the first time the new champion had ever cashed at the WSOP.  That is 23 percent winners as first-time cashers, including Humbert.


WINNER QUOTES

On his feelings immediately after winning a WSOP gold bracelet:  “I can’t believe it.  It’s amazing.  This is my first live tournament.  I can’t believe this has happened to me.”

On becoming the first Swiss WSOP winner ever:  “I am not really very patriotic.  But it is good to forever be the first player ever from Switzerland to win at the World Series.”

On his decision to come and play the WSOP Europe for the first time:  “I wanted to go to the WSOP in Las Vegas (this year).  But I didn’t have enough money.  But when I saw there would be the tournament in Cannes, I figured I could come here in my car and it would be easier.”

On how things went during the first of three tournament days:  “On the first day, I was in a hand where I was close to being all-in.  I had him covered, but I was in with A-Q against A-K.  I got very lucky and caught a queen on the river.  I ended the day with 65,000 (top one-third in standings).”

On how things went during the second tournament day:  “I was in good shape when I started.  But I really had a big day and made a lot of hands.  That gave me the chip lead.” 

On going to the break holding the chip lead (with 12 players remaining) and Day Three action:  “I could barely sleep last night.  I was really nervous.  I may have slept two hours, maybe.  We finished play at 4 in the morning.  I was really tired when we started today.  I lost a lot of chips. I event went down to 95,000 when we are down to five players (the shortest stack), and I came back

On his impression of the Hotel Majestic Barriere, where he won his first major poker victory:  “Everything is fine here.  It’s really fantastic!”

On what he plans to do with the prize money:  “I am going to put some of the money away so I can maybe open up some kind of bar business.  But it is early to tell.  I have not thought about that yet.”

On his future plans and goals:  “I’m not sure.  I know I have to work.  We’ll see.  But I really want to open up my own bar and run it myself.”

On whom he wants to thank and acknowledge following his victory:  “I want to thank my parents, and all of my family and friends.”

On being persistent and sticking with the game, even after running bad during the initial stages:  I always knew I could do something in poker, and now – today’s the day.”


THE FINAL TABLE

For the purposes of WSOP record-keeping, the final table is comprised of only the final six players (top six finishers).

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

Six different nations were represented at the final table – including France, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Northern Ireland, and Switzerland.

The runner up was Maeda Azusa, from Tokyo, Japan.  He enjoyed his first-ever WSOP cash in this tournament.  Azusa is a 39-year-old recreational poker player who first started playing just three years ago.  Azusa collected a nice consolation prize totaling 133,471 (Euros) in prize money.

The third-place finisher was Roy Finlay, from Thorton, Northern Ireland.  He is a 35-year-old advertising executive who is also a former professional boxer.  This marked his second WSOP cash.  Finlay collected 92,621 (Euros) in prize money.

The fourth-place finisher was Matan Krakow, from Jerusalem, Israel.  Krakow was the chip leader when six-handed play began.  He is a writer and high-tech executive.  Krakow previously served as an officer in the Israeli Army.  In fact, he shares a similar background with high-stakes poker pro Eli Elezra (who is also a former Israeli Army veteran) – as the two poker players are currently collaborating on a poker biography to be released next year.  Remarkably, Krakow played in only four WSOP-related tournaments this year and cashed in three of them.  Krakow collected a well-deserved 65,068 (Euros) in prize money.

The fifth-place finisher was Adrien Allain, from Rennes, France.  He is a 25-year-old poker pro who is sponsored by the Barriere Poker group.  Allain won a big poker event in Cannes earlier this year, called the Cannes Hold’em Series.  He also cashed in last year’s WSOP Main Event (630th).  Allain received 46,250 (Euros) in prize money for this fine effort.

The sixth-place finisher was Marton Czuczor, from Budapest, Hungary.  He is a 21-year-old student making his first-ever WSOP cash.  Czuczor collected 33,255 (Euros) in prize money.

For the first time in history, a WSOP Europe final table was carried on live streaming video over the Internet.  Poker fans from all over the world were able to log in to wsop.com and watch all the action live.  All final table events at this year’s WSOP Europe will be broadcast live.

The final showdown between Guillaume Humbert and Meada Azusa was a stunning outcome, considering neither player had any major (live) tournament cashes whatsoever.  Poker royalty literally bit the dust while the two relative newcomers to the international poker scene battled it out for poker’s supreme prize.

Heads-up play began with Azusa holding a chip lead of 1.6 to 1.  However, Humbert slowly grinded his opponent down to the point where he enjoyed a 4 to 1 chip advantage.  On the final hand, Humbert was dealt 8h 5c.  Azusa was dealt 4d 3d.  After what was nearly a perfect flop for Humbert (9-7-6, good for a straight), he checked and Azusa moved all-in hoping to steal.  Humbert snapped called with the made-straight and scooped the final pot of the night when Azusa’s miracle failed to materialize.  Humbert was declared with winner with Azusa finishing as runner up.

 
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS

There were three former WSOP gold bracelet winners who cashed in this event – including Phil Hellmuth (7th), David Benyamine (12th), and Freddy Deeb (15th).

The seventh-place finisher was Phil Hellmuth, who finished just one spot away from making the final table.  Hellmuth held the chip lead during part of the second day of play.  As the tournament progressed, he attracted worldwide attention is his quest for what would have been a 12th career gold bracelet victory.  The poker icon hoped to add one more degree of separation to his status as the all-time WSOP wins leader.  Hellmuth, currently with 11 career victories, remains one win ahead of fellow-legends Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan.

With his seventh-place finish, Hellmuth increased his lead as the player with most cashes in history, now at 84.

David Benyamine now lives in Las Vegas.  But he is originally from France and is well-known in the host nation.  Benyamine was one of the first French players to emerge on the international poker scene and make a major impact not only on tournaments, but cash games, as well.  He finished in 12th place.

Barriere Poker is the official partner-sponsor of WSOP Europe.  There were 19 players (out of 360) which qualified via Barriere.  The highest finished ended up in 38th place – two spots out of the money.  However, two Barriere pros did cash and one (Adrien Allain) made it to the final table.

The defending champion from 2010 (played in London) was Phil Laak.  He did not participate in this year’s tournament.


ODDS AND ENDS

This is the first of seven events on the 2011 WSOP Europe schedule.  It is the 60th gold bracelet event played in 2011, when combined with the 58 premium events which took place in Las Vegas, plus the WSOP Circuit National Championship, held a few months ago.

This is the second year a Six-Handed tournament has been part of the WSOP Europe schedule.  Last year’s Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em tournament was also the opening tournament on the schedule.  It attracted 244 entries.

This is the 951st gold bracelet event in World Series of Poker history. Note: 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 WSOP Europe gold bracelets, to date.

This is the17th gold bracelet awarded at WSOP Europe since its inception, in 2007.

The first four years of WSOP Europe were played in London, UK at Casino at the Empire.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony will take place at Casino at the Empire on Tuesday, September 28th at approximately noon.  It will occur just prior to the start of the WSOP Europe Main Event final table.  The entire presentation is open to public and media.  Video and photography is permitted by both media and the public.


MORE ABOUT 2011 WSOP EUROPE

Three different nations have now hosted WSOP gold bracelet events – the United States, Great Britain, and France.

In its history, WSOP gold bracelet tournament action has taken place at only five venues.  They are Binion’s Horseshoe (1970-2003), Rio Las Vegas (2004-present), Casino at the Empire (2007-2010), Caesars Palace Las Vegas (one event in 2011), and now Barriere Cannes (2011).  Note:  During the 1980s, as few other Downtown Las Vegas casinos also hosted limited portions of the WSOP. 

This marks the first time that a WSOP tournament has ever been played in a non-English speaking nation.

This is the first time that any WSOP gold bracelet event has been hosted at a non-owned venue.  In other words, Barriere is not a Caesars Entertainment property. 

One of the official sponsors of 2011 WSOP Europe is luxury carmaker, Mercedes Benz.  Players are shuttled to and from the Nice airport via Mercedes Benz chauffer-drive cars.

The 2011 WSOP Europe Staff includes longtime Tournament Director Jack Effel, who has overseen all tournament operations since 2006.  He and his staff are present in Cannes.  However, much of the set-up and actual operations have been conducted by Barriere’s excellent poker staff.  This group includes – Eric Cavillon (Head of Poker Operations), Alain Fabre (Casino General Manager), Jean Etienne Bouedec (Vice President of Operations), Gregory Chochon (Barriere Poker France), and Lucille Denos (Tournament Director) and many other fine industry professionals.

Official WSOP rules typically specify an “English Only” rule, which means all table discussion relating to play must be conducted in English.  However, at WSOP Europe (Cannes), there is a duel English or French Only rule, which means players can communicate in either language at any time.

Tournament play is split between two first-class venues – Le Croisette Casino Barriere and Hotel Majestic Barriere.  The casino and hotel are nestled neck-a-neck along the coastal esplanade facing the Mediterranean Sea.  Tournament Day Ones and final table action are played at the hotel.  Restarts (Day Twos, Day Threes, etc.) are played inside the casino.   

The two poker venues are unquestionably the most glamorous settings for any poker tournament ever held.  Poker action takes place inside the same ballrooms which host the world-famous Cannes Film Festival, held annually every May.  Many of Hollywood’s most-famous movie stars have stayed at the Majestic Barriere.  The hallways are filled with photographs of Hollywood royalty from the 1930s to the present day.  The hotel also hosts various global economic summits, which attract many of the world’s leaders.

2011 is shaping up to be a banner year for the French poker scene.  Not only is France hosting its first WSOP Europe tournament ever, French players also won four gold bracelets at this year’s WSOP (so far).


THE TOURNAMENT

The 2500 (Euro) buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 360 entries.  This figure represents a 47 percent increase over the same Six-Handed event held at WSOP Europe last year, held in London.

The total prize pool amounted to 864,000 (Euros).  At the present-day exchange rate, this is equal to $1,154,601 (USD).

The top 36 finishers collected prize money.

The tournament attracted a highly-competitive field, including most of Europe’s best poker players.  Events in Cannes are unquestionably the most internationally diverse fields in WSOP history.   

There were 39 nations represented in the tournament field.  Players attended from the following countries:
122 – France
69 -- United States
25 -- United Kingdom
22 – Italy
16 – Canada
15 – Russia
14 – Sweden
6 – Ukraine
5 – Australia
5 -- Switzerland
5 – Japan
5 -- Lebanon
4 -- Germany
4 -- Belgium
4 -- Finland
4 -- Hungary
3 -- Denmark
3 -- Belarus
2 -- Panama
2 -- Ireland
2 -- Israel
2 -- Venezuela
2 -- Norway
2 -- South Africa
2 -- Spain
2 -- Brazil
1 -- Chile
1 -- Austria
1 -- Kuwait
1 -- Argentina
1 -- Lithuania
1 -- Malta
1 -- Mexico
1 -- New Zealand
1 -- Portugal
1 – Senegal
1 -- Slovenia
1 -- Uruguay
1 -- Latvia

The tournament officially began at 5 pm on Friday, October 7th.  The tournament officially ended on Monday, October 10th at 2:10 am (Cannes time).


WSOP AND WSOP EUROPE NOTES AND RECORDS

Through Las Vegas Event #58 and Cannes Event #1 (all gold bracelet events), WSOP events have attracted 76,032 combined total entries, to date.

Through Cannes Event #1, 2011 WSOP Europe events have attracted 360 combined total entries.  Six more events are still to be played.

Through Las Vegas Event #58 and Cannes Event #1 (all gold bracelet events), WSOP events have paid out a combined $192,287,909 – the most of any single year in history.

Through Cannes Event #1, 2011 WSOP Europe events have paid out 864,000 (Euros) in prize money.
 
Through the conclusion of Cannes Event #1, the breakdown of nationalities of gold bracelet winners has been:
Switzerland (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #57 (WSOP Las Vegas) and Event #1 (WSOP Europe), the breakdown of nationalities of gold bracelet winners this year has been as follows:
(Note that 2011 WSOP Main Event is still pending):
United States (35)
Canada (5)
Ukraine (4)
France (4)
Great Britain (3)
Russia (3)
Brazil (1)
Pakistan (1)
Sweden (1)
Switzerland (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #57 (WSOP Las Vegas) and Event #1 (WSOP Europe), the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been as follows:
United States (31)
Canada (5)
Ukraine (4)
France (4)
Great Britain (3)
Russia (3)
Israel (1)
Honduras (1)
Indonesia (1)
Germany (1)
Brazil (1)
Pakistan (1)
Sweden (1)
Switzerland (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #57 (WSOP Las Vegas) and Event #1 (WSOP Europe), the breakdown of professional poker players to semi-pros and
amatuers who won gold bracelets has been as follows:

Professional Players (44): Jake Cody, Cheech Barbaro, Eugene Katchalov, Allen Bari, Harrison Wilder, Matt Perrins, Sean Getzwiller, Viacheslav Zhukov, David Diaz, Andrew Badecker, Tyler Bonkowski, Brian Rast (2 wins), 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, Andre Akkari, Joe Ebanks, Lenny Martin, Athanasios Polychronopoulos, Antonin Teisseire, Matt Matros, Marsha Wolak. Maxim Lykov, Nick Binger

Semi-Pros (6): Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii Kovalchuk, Eric Rosawig, Arkadiy Tsinis, Alexander Anter

Amateurs (8): Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays, James Hess, Kirk Caldwell, Ken Griffin, Owais Ahmed, David Singontiko, Guillaume Humbert

Since tracking first started in 2005, this year’s WSOP/WSOP Europe has the greatest disparity of professionals winning over semi-pros and amateurs than any year recorded, so far – with 50 out of 58 events being won by pros or semi-pros.

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 13 of the 58 winners (23 percent) marked the first time the new champion had ever cashed at the WSOP.

The streak of consecutive male WSOP gold bracelet winners is currently at 213 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 accomplished 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.

Defending world champion Jonathan Duhamel played in this event but did not cash.  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 perform well.  What follows is a list of the only world champions in history to win a gold bracelet after winning the World championship during the previous year:
 
Johnny Moss (1975)
Doyle Brunson (1977)
Bobby Baldwin (1979)
Stu Ungar (1981)
Johnny Chan (1988)
Hamid Dastmalchi (1993)
Chris “Jesus” Ferguson (2001)

New tournament records set at 2011 WSOP Europe:
First WSOP winner in history from Switzerland – Guillaume Humbert

……….

Note:  All results are now official and may be reprinted by media.  We would appreciate if you are posting these on a website, you provide a link back to wsop.com  Thank you.




 
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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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