Pot Limit Party Pals

Usually a party comes after the final table, but Thursday evening at the Rio All Suite and Hotel the final table was the party. Jamie Pickering and Vanessa Selbst played the most lively heads-up battle so far at the 2008 World Series of Poker in Event #19 ($1,500 Pot Limit Omaha).

After multiple rounds of drinks shared between the railbirds and the players the atmosphere was festive with fans cheering for both players, sometimes changing allegiance in the middle of a hand. But in the end it was Selbst who broke through to capture her first bracelet and the $227,905 first place prize.

“I couldn’t have imagined that’s how I would win a bracelet,” said Selbst, who made the final four of the $5,000 Heads-Up event last year. “Then we came back and played real poker a little bit. It was great, it was real fun.”

The fun began in earnest after Selbst eliminated Stanley Statkiewicz in third place. It was the fifth of six eliminations that Selbst would make. Before heads-up play began the two players paused to allow friends and family to re-load on their refreshments. The atmosphere kicked up another notch for the next hour, with Selbst and Pickering each holding the chip lead.

The mood of the railbirds got rowdy enough that the tournament staff asked for an unscheduled break to allow the players, and their legions of fans, to calm down. When play resumed it didn’t take long for Selbst to finish off the Australian pro.

In a limped pot the flop came 7c 8c 10h and Pickering checked to Selbst who bet 90,000. Pickering’s next move, an all-in re-raise, would be his last. Selbst called and showed 9d 2c Js Jc for a flopped straight while Pickering showed As Qs 10s 9h. While Pickering would need a jack to complete a better straight, he’d also need to fade the board pairing. The turn was the 5s and the river the Ah and Selbst had won.

“It’s just unreal. It’s hard to believe,” said Selbst. “You come this close time and time again, my fourth final table. I keep getting so close and it’s not just the bracelet, the money is so different between first, second and third. I’ve never gotten passed third, so the fact that I finally won it is just huge. I couldn’t believe it.”

Despite the runner-up finish, which paid $145,459, Pickering was in good spirits as he collected his winnings. “I’m glad I could be entertaining,” said Pickering. “That really was a lot of fun.”

For complete results from Event #19 visit the WSOP Results page.