Greg Hobson Wins $1,500 Buy-In Ante-Only No-Limit Hold’em (Event #49)
Alaska Poker Pro Collects $256,691 in Prize Money
Online Poker Pro ‘DUCK_U” Makes Big Splash at WSOP
First-Ever “Ante-Only” Event at WSOP Debuts to Big Turnout and Positive Reviews
A new tournament debuted this week at the 2012 World Series of Poker. The game is called “Ante-Only No-Limit Hold’em.” This marks the first time such a game has ever been featured as a gold bracelet event.
The first-ever Ante-Only No-Limit Hold’em champion is Greg Hobson, from Anchorage, Alaska. The 33-year-old professional poker player pocketed $256,691 in prize money, along with his first WSOP gold bracelet. This marked Hobson's fourth time to cash at the WSOP. He has previously been highly successful in the online poker world, playing under the screen name "DUCK_U." His name stems from his status as a graduate of the University of Oregon (Ducks).
This was the 49th of 61 gold bracelet events on the 2012 WSOP schedule. The three-day competition drew a larger-than-expected field-size, particularly since such an event had never been offered before. Moreover, the $1,500 entry fee wasn’t exactly a frivolous sum for tournament entrants, most of whom had not played this form of poker in the past. But at least for one player, the ultimate winner Hobson, it appeared that he's been playing this unique variation for a lifetime.
In a post tournament interview, Hobson confided that he had actually played the game very little, in fact. He arrived the first day with about the same grasp of the game as most players. However, the thought he was able to make some quick adjustments and learned the game better as the tournament progressed over three days. The tournament began on Wednesday with 939 entrants. The event concluded on Friday night, at the Rio in Las Vegas.
The runner-up was James Sowers, a 25-year-old poker pro and part-time coach from Thomasville, NC.
MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – GREG HOBSON
Birthplace: Baker, Oregon
Current Residence: Anchorage, Alaska
Marital Status: Married
Profession: Professional Poker Player
Former Profession: Substitute Teacher
Education: University of Oregon
Number of WSOP Cashes: 4
Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP finish: 151st (2009)
First-Place Prize Money: $256,691
Note: Hobson will be classified as a professional poker player in WSOP records, since he plays full-time exclusively and has no other occupation.
INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: About this event, first time here. I know you’ve talked about your online background and we’ll get to that in a minute. Have you played this game before?
Hobson: You know, I think maybe one time in online I’ve played in it, but it’s nothing that I necessarily felt more comfortable than anybody else. I think everybody’s just figuring out the correct strategies throughout. No one just has it all set up like when you’re playing a normal No-Limit Hold’em table or when you’re playing a tournament with antes and blinds. When you have blinds, it’s so much different. I think it took some figuring out and I think everybody had a different strategy. Throughout the tournament, you saw a lot different from table to table. A lot more limping at one table and a lot more raising, playing antes (essentially the blinds) in the pot and trying to steal them. It’s kind of gotten mixed up. Everyone played a little bit different.
Question: You say “it’s so much different.” How is this game different than say regular No Limit Hold’em? We know the rules, but strategically.
Hobson: I think the idea that you can limp in to a lot more pots and see a lot more cheap flops, especially when you have the antes really large and the bring-in is really small, so in a situation where you know the ante is $12K and then the bring in is only $1K, coming in for a thousand, you pretty much can’t fold. You can’t fold any hands if you have decent chips at all, because there are a lot of pots that go un-raised. You’re going to end up having such huge odds on your hand. It doesn’t matter, any two cards. As long as you’re good enough to be able to know where you’re at in hands and be able to fold in spots. You can flop monsters with just really bad cards in this game and because people have a hard time putting on hand ranges, hand values are just way different than it is in a regular No-Limit tournament
Question: Considering some of the people who made the final table, also very prevalent online players, at least a few of you figured it out. Do you feel by the time play got short that you had a much better grasp of how things were playing out?
Hobson: I feel like everybody was kind of figuring it out. The last three or four tables were a lot of really, really good players left in the event. I think in the end it ends up being poker and people who over value their hands might limp in with a really big hand and no one raises and they stack off with a mediocre holding. I think just knowing your hand values, because it’s way, way different. People can have a raggedy two pair so much easier than a Hold’em tournament with blinds, because they’re not going to be calling with 8-2 off suit, but in this you limp in with 8-2 and the flop comes A-8-2 and you’re, ‘Okay, I have a really big hand right now.’ And the person with A-J, normally they’d raise and never have to worry about 8-2 typically. I think the value of hands, people didn’t understand that. I was short stacked from the middle of the first day all the way through yesterday. I started the day yesterday with only 13,000 chips and I was fourth shortest, I think, out of everybody. I won a number of flips.
Question: Would you give us a bit of a bio aside from poker?
Hobson: I grew up in Oregon. I lived in Oregon my whole life until my wife (who wasn’t my wife at the time) went to law school in Gonzaga (University). I moved up there and we moved back to Portland for a couple years and then we decided to go up closer to her family. She’s from Alaska. So, we moved up to Alaska. We’ve been up there for two years and we have two awesome kids. They’re awesome. That’s pretty much it. I started out – I went through a teaching program and I got my Masters in Teaching. I tried to get a teaching job, didn’t get one. I started substituting, started playing poker, then started doing better than I would make if I was teaching. So I just went ahead and I ran with it and I’ve been doing it for about nine years now. It’s been good to me. I’ve been fortunate.
Question: The bracelet and the symbolism attached to it -- a validation for your career? Does it mean as much to you as it does some others?
Hobson: I think it means a lot, for sure. I just haven’t had that big live score that’s kind of eluded me. I’ve cashed a number of $10Ks, but I haven’t had the real deep run where I’m final tabling and making a big splash. I think that I’ve done a lot online, but it’s a whole different animal when you’re playing life and this does help me feel a little bit vindicated, I guess.
Question: Your online success is somewhat less well-known, whereas now everyone will know your name. Agree?
Hobson: My online name is fairly well-known, but I know what you’re saying. Now there’s a face to the name. That’s definitely different. I can walk around here and a people at my final couple tables know all their buddies. I’m not in the “poker circle.” Now all of a sudden they’re like, ‘You’re Duck_U?’ They had no idea! ‘I thought you were just some random guy who got deep in this tournament.’ That’s kind of funny to me.
ODDS AND ENDS
This is the 1,008th gold bracelet to be awarded in WSOP history. It is also the 1,002nd WSOP event in history.
This is the first time this event has ever been offered at the WSOP. It started out as an online poker game. However, it has been played at some casinos in California, as well as the U.K.
This was classified as WSOP schedule Event #49, since it’s the 49th gold bracelet of 61 to be awarded this summer in Las Vegas. The tournament was played over three consecutive days and nights, starting on Wednesday at noon and concluding on Friday night.
The total duration of the final table was about five hours. Play began at 2 p.m. and ended at 8 p.m. (there was a one-hour dinner break).
The final table included no former gold bracelet winners.
The runner-up was James Sowers, from Las Vegas, NV. He earned $158,887.
The top 117 finishers collected prize money.
The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament end very late). The ceremony takes place inside Brasilia. 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 public and media. Video and photography is permitted by both public and members of the media.