Limit Texas Hold 'emLocation:
Rio, Las VegasBuy-in:
$1,500Number of Entries:
2,305 Total Prize Money:
Last year, Gavin Griffin became the youngest player to ever win a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. With so many young people now turned on to poker, however, it seemed just a matter of time before a younger star would emerge and eclipse the record. That moment came at precisely 4 am Tuesday, after an all-night poker marathon lasting 16 hours. Eric Froehlich, a 21-year-old professional poker player, won the $1,500 buy in Limit Hold'em championship. At exactly 21 years, 3 months, and 3 days of age, "E-Fro" established a new all-time benchmark for the youngest poker champion.
The final table was a brutal exercise of patience, skill, and discipline. The chip lead changed several times and shifted back and forth when play was heads up. By the time the final hand was dealt, the standing-room-only crowd that had packed the Rio Pavilion had dissipated, leaving E-Fro to bask in his glory amidst a zonked out ESPN TV crew and hoarse-voiced Tournament Director John Grooms. Poker glory usually comes in fickle flashes. It didn't seem to matter that E-Fro had climbed poker's equivalent of Mt. Everest, and there wasn't anyone around to witness the spectacle. The important thing was the view. For at least a little while, E-Fro will be the latest chapter in poker history.
This tournament was historic for at least one additional reason - 1989 world poker champion Phil Hellmuth, finished in 42nd place. That would not normally be newsworthy. But it so happened to be Mr. Hellmuth's 47th time in the money at the WSOP - which distanced him by one notch over 1986 world poker champion Berry Johnston (with 46 cashes). The race is on to climb another poker mountain. Players were eliminated as follows:
10th Place: Zelong Dong, $15,925
Dong might as well have had a taxi waiting when he arrived at the final table. Minutes into play, he lost most of his chips to a flush, then made a desperate raise with his final 6,000, which was snapped up by Peter Costa.
9th Place: Brian Mogelefsky, $28,950
Mogelefsky took a tough beat when he was dealt K-K against Jason Steinhorn's 10-10. All of Mogelefsky's chips were in the pot after the flop and it looked as if the 27-year-old New Yorker might double up. But a 10 on the turn gave Steinhorn a set, and poisoned the pocket kings.
8th Place: Wing Wong, $43,430
Wong arrived with the lowest stack and was the next player to exit. He moved his last 18,000 into the pot with J-9 and was nipped by Adam Hersh's 10-3 when the final board showed 10=4=3=9=A.
7th Place: Peter Costa, $57,905
Costa arrived with the most impressive poker pedigree of anyone at the final table. He has won numerous majors, including Late Night Poker (UK), the Aussie Millions, a Hall of Fame event, two European Poker Championship events, and a number of smaller tournaments. Given his past performance, his finish in this event had to be a disappointment. Costa had aces cracked about mid-way into his stay at the table and never seemed to recover. He finally went out with 8-8 against Todd Witteles' K-J when a king flopped.
6th Place: Devin Armstrong, $72,380
Armstrong works as a television camera operator, but is fast becoming a face in front of the camera rather than behind it. Armstrong finished 5th in last year's Canadian Poker Championship, appeared on the cover of Canadian Poker Player magazine, and is hosting a poker DVD. He got steamrolled on his final hand of the night, with 2-2 against E-Fro's pocket aces.
5th Place: Chris Van Hees, $86,855
When play became five-handed, it was still anyone's tournament to win. The lowest stack was about 270,000, and the largest stack stood at 420,000. Then, things turned very bad for Van Hees. The Seattle-based poker pro tried to make a move at the pot at the wrong time and was snapped off by Witteles, who spiked an ace on the flop to go with his A-6.
4th Place: Adam Hersh, $101,335
Hersh arrived at the final table with the chip lead, so his 4th-place finish and $101,335 prize was a mixed blessing. The 22-year-old UNLV student was playing in his first poker tournament, and demonstrated some extraordinary talents for a player with so little experience at this level. On his final hand, Hersh was dealt 5-5 and lost to Steinhorn's pair of nines.
3rd Place: Todd Witteles, $115,810
Witteles watched his stack disappear in 30 minutes. He went from 400,000 in chips to the rail with a dismal dry spell that was fitting for a 100-degree Las Vegas day. The evaporation was complete when Witteles was dealt A-9 and was dominated by E-Fro's A-K. Witteles managed to catch a nine on the flop, but E-Fro caught a king. Two blanks were the final nails in Witteles' coffin, as he exited in 3rd place. Amazingly, this was also Witteles' first time to cash in a major tournament.
Runner up: Jason Steinhorn, $182,040
1st Place: Eric "E-Fro" Froehlich, $361,910
If anyone thought the tournament was about to end, they were in for a surprise. Instead, it was a never-ending see-saw chip exchange that lasted nearly three hours. Just when it seemed E-Fro was about to win the tournament, Steinhorn would stage a rally and re-gain the chip lead. Once, he did this after being down 9-to-1 in chips. Then, when murmurs began that Steinhorn might close with a victory, E-Fro caught a flurry of cards and raced back into the chip lead.
At 3:30 a.m., Steinhorn had a 2-to-1 chip lead, but he won very few pots in the final half hour. Getting short on chips, he called a raise by E-Fro. The flop came 9=2=2 with two spades. The turn was a meaningless 10 of hearts. The river brought a third spade, but also paired the 10. E-Fro bet holding his flush despite two pair on board, and Steinhorn (hand not shown) made a crying call. The flush was good and history was made.
View final results.
Tournament reporting by Nolan Dalla / worldseriesofpoker.com