Graduate Grabs Gold

Max Greenwood, a 23-year-old recent university graduate from Toronto, won Event #44 ($1,000 No Limit Hold 'em w/rebuys) on Friday to claim a World Series of Poker bracelet and $693,444 after one of the loudest, rowdiest and most entertaining heads-up matches of the 2008 WSOP.

The final table got off to a lightning fast start as five players were eliminated in just 22 hands, most at the hands of Denmark's Rene Mouritsen. Greenwood came into the day in the middle of the pack but his inactivity quickly rendered him the short stack at the table.

When play was three-handed Greenwood had fallen into a huge chip deficit against Mouritsen and the third player, Albert Iverson, who hails from Aarhus, the same Danish port city as Mouritsen. Greenwood was holding just over 300,000 chips while Iverson had close to 2 million and Mouritsen was sitting with almost 4 million.

Greenwood won a dramatic coin flip with pocket fives against Mouritsen's A-J, hitting a river 5 to take back the pot after Mouritsen paired his ace on the flop. The double-up was followed three hands later by another at the expense of Mouritsen, and six hands after that Greenwood doubled a third time when Mouritsen tried to bluff pre-flop with 8-7 against Greenwood's pocket nines.

The succession of double-ups brought Greenwood to the top of the leaderboard and left Mouritsen as the short stack. After making a comeback to overtake Iverson, Mouritsen spiked a much needed spade on the turn after moving all-in with a flush and straight draw and being called by Iverson, who had flopped a set. Iverson was eliminated on the hand and that's when the fun really began.

Greenwood had one of the largest and loudest support groups of any final table player at the 2008 WSOP. Tom "durrr" DwanPhil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond and Andrew "good2cu" Robl were among the Greenwood fan club, which occupied two entire sections of the Milwaukee's Best Light No Limit Lounge. They cheered fanatically when Greenwood won a pot, built pyramids out of Milwaukee's Best Light cans, bet on whether the flop would be red or black, and even began chants in which one side would chorus "Green" and the other would follow up with "Wood!"

Not to be out-done, the Danes formed their own group, many sporting novelty gold crowns and wielding miniature plastic battle axes. Jesper Hougaard, fellow Dane and bracelet winner from Event #36, led the group in loud back-and-forth songs and fervent Danish sporting cheers.

Needless to say, there was a lot of Milwaukee's Best Light involved on both sides of the rivalry.

The battle between cheering sections got so heated at one point that the tournament director had to ask everyone to tone down the ruckus while hands were being played out, although Greenwood said it didn't bother him.

"In between hands I thought it was hilarious, they were both having an awesome time. Once hands started I just kind of zoned it out."

The crowd managed to restrain themselves while action was pending but the bottling of emotions meant that the cheers and chants became even more spirited between hands. When the two groups decided that cheering against each other wasn't enough, they upped the stakes with a $20,000 side bet. They couldn't find a neutral party to hold the money so Dwan placed the large stack of cash on a stand next to the final table, adding to the overall festiveness of the final table atmosphere.

Greenwood started heads-up down in chips, but won a number of medium sized pots early in the match to take the lead. After 33 hands of heads-up play Greenwood check-raised on a J-5-4 flop and Mouritsen came back over the top with an all-in bet. Greenwood called immediately with A-J and Mouritsen turned over K-J for the same pair with a worse kicker. The turn and river brought no held for Mouritsen and Greenwood calmly shook his opponent's hand before jumping into his mob of elated supporters.

A disappointed Mouritsen was awarded $445,523 for his third WSOP runner-up finish in the past two years. Greenwood wins his first WSOP bracelet and $693,444, with which he said he plans to buy a house in his hometown of Toronto.

"I was just having a really awesome time," Greenwood said of the final table. "We had all the Danes in the crowd and a bunch of my friends, everyone was drinking and having a good time. I wasn't really thinking about the money, I was just trying to play the best I could."

Greenwood, known online as "InYaFace", graduated from the University of Toronto just two weeks ago with a degree in political science and philosophy. He said he plans to take a year off to travel.

See the WSOP results page for full payouts from Event #44.