Michael Gathy, from Brussels, Becomes Only Second Player in History from Belgium to Win a Gold Bracelet
Belgium -- Now a Country of Beer, Chocolates, and Gold Bracelets
Las Vegas, NV (June 12, 2012) -- Walking into the World Series of Poker tournament that began last Sunday was like taking the first step in what everyone knew would be a lengthy marathon.
The odds against winning were overwhelming, indeed. Like, thousands to one.
Not only that, the test would prove to be grueling both physically and mentally. Playing tournament poker at the highest level over a 36-hour period during which the objective was to accumulate every single chip initially dispersed amongst 300 or so poker tables seemed like an impossibility.
For Michael Gathy, it was no problem whatsoever.
The 23-year-old professional poker player from Brussels, Belgium rose high above the second-largest tournament field of the year (to date) He was the last player sitting at the conclusion of a very long game, the man with every single chip from that first day comfortably nestled in neat rows, stacked like chocolate bars, beaming with pride at the realization he had just etched his name into the annals of poker history.
Gathy won his first WSOP gold bracelet in the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament (Event #21), collecting $440,829 in the process. Nearly half a million dollars for three days trapped inside the Rio tournament room -- or 440 times his original investment. Not a bad deal, at all. He topped a massive field totaling 2,799 entrants, ultimately winning poker’s most coveted prize late on the third and final day of competition.
The final hand was a breeze for Gathy. He was dealt pocket tens against the ultimate runner-up, Jamie Armstrong, holding pocket nines. The higher pocket pair held up and a Belgian was suddenly the latest poker champion.
The top 297 finishers collected prize money. The final table of nine included two gold bracelet winners – John Esposito, a.k.a. “Espo” and Eric Baldwin. Also of note was Martin Staszko’s in-the-money finish (116th). He was the runner up in last year’s WSOP Main Event Championship. This was his first time to cash since that time. Another notable casher was John Duthie (195th place). He is one of the founders of the European Poker Tour.
Gathy’s victory gives him his first WSOP title in what was his first time ever to cash at the WSOP. He also becomes only the second champion ever from the nation of Belgium. The first Belgian winner was Davidi Katai, who won the $2,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold'em event back in 2008.
Alas, many people know Belgium for beer and chocolates. After tonight, it shall also be known for producing multiple WSOP gold bracelet winners.
The official report of this tournament, with much more news and official data, will be posted soon to WSOP.com.
-- by Nolan Dalla