Gee, I Won a Gold Bracelet!

Steve Gee Wins First WSOP Gold Bracelet Victory

Veteran Poker Pro Collects $472,479 in Prize Money

Sacramento Pro Tops Huge Field of 3,042 Players at WSOP

WSOP Hosts Largest Six-Handed Live Poker Tournament in History

For the official tournament portal page, including official results, click HERE.

OVERVIEW

Steve Gee is the winner of the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Event #13 at the 2010 World Series of Poker.  This was his first career WSOP gold bracelet victory following a 30-year grind in the cardrooms of Southern California.  

Gee is a 54-year-old poker pro who now lives in Sacramento, CA.  He has been playing poker for more than three decades and was one of California’s top cash game Lowball players, long before flop games such as Hold’em became popular.  He only started playing Hold’em seriously about two years ago.  Indeed, Gee was a real poker pro, long before the modern age of poker shown on television.

Gee collected $472,479 for first place.  The nearly half-a-million dollar payout was fitting, given the heavy odds stacked against him when play began four days earlier.  Gee conquered a massive field size of 3,042 players en route to his biggest poker win ever.  In fact, the tournament was so big that the final table was extended to an unscheduled fifth playing day.

This was the second $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event held at this year’s WSOP.  Every weekend three huge No-Limit Hold’em events are played.  Most Fridays include a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament.  A $1,000 buy-in event takes place on Saturday and Sunday (two flights/starting days).  Each Monday includes another $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event.  All Day One starting times are noon.

The top 324 finishers in this tournament collected prize money.  The runner up was Matthew Vance, from Lowville, NY.

THE CHAMPION STEVE GEE

The $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em champion (Event #13) is Steve Gee, from Sacramento, CA.

Gee is 54-years-old.   He was born in China.  Gee immigrated with his parents to the United States at the age of five.

“Gee” is pronounced GEE, as in “GEE-wiz.”

Gee is divorced.  He has one child.

Gee started playing poker when he was not of legal age to enter casinos.  He started out playing in the old-time, character-rich cardrooms of Gardena, CA during the late 1970s.  Gardena is a section of Los Angeles that was once the epicenter of legalized poker.  All games played in the strip of small card casinos were variations of Lowball.  The Gardena subculture was immortalized in the 1974 Robert Altman film, “California Split.”

Gee’s pride in surviving so many years in poker can best be summed up by the following comment, which was made before his victory:  “I was a professional poker player before it became popular.”

Gee commonly played single-draw Lowball, which had two betting rounds.  He was a regular in the big game and was usually the youngest player at the table by 20 years.  The betting rounds were $120 before the draw and $120 after the draw – a huge game back in the day of the Gardena poker rooms.

Gee decided to attend college during the mid-1980s.  He earned his degree from Sacramento State University.  He then worked as a software developer for many years.

After a hiatus working a “regular” job, Gee returned to playing poker full-time.  His biggest transition came when he had to adjust from playing Lowball to Hold’em.  Gee had survived for several years in the Lowball environment.  But flop games were legalized inside California cardrooms in the mid-1980s, and that gradually led to a decline in Lowball and an increase in popularly of Hold’em.

Gee spends much of his time in the Los Angeles area.  His “home” room is the Commerce Casino.  He has been playing full-time again for the past two years.

Gee jokes that he was once the youngest player at the table every time he played.  Now, he says at age 54 he is often the oldest player in the game.

Gee has always preferred playing in cash games over poker tournaments.  He never played tournament poker until the last five years.  His first recorded cash was in 2005.

Gee collected $472,479 for first place.  He was presented with his first WSOP gold bracelet.

According to official records, Gee now has one win, one final table appearance, and two cashes at the WSOP.   His career WSOP earnings now total $475,500.

WINNER QUOTES

On what winning his first WSOP gold bracelet means:  “It’s really big.  It’s not that I’m insecure.  I’m very secure about what I do.  But this is a validation if you are a poker player.  The thing about poker today is that no matter how good you are in cash games, even if you crush the games, nobody knows who you are.  The tournament players are the rock stars today.  So, this is what you do if you want to be known and get validation for what you do as a poker player.”  

On his recollections of what it took to win in poker many years ago:  “When I first started playing, there was no online poker or videos. I learned from the school of hard knocks.  I put in my time.”

On how he matured over time as a poker player:  “Back 30 years ago, I was playing Draw Lowball for a living.  That’s the only game they had back in those days.”

On what it meant to be a professional poker player back in the 1970s:  “It was not glamorous at all, like it is today.  It was more like being a pool hustler.”

On transitioning from Lowball to Hold’em:  “I walked into a casino one day and I found out they did not play Lowball anymore.  I said, ‘Wow – what is this?’  They were playing Hold’em and I had to learn how to play poker all over again.  But if you can play one game, you can play another.  It’s cards.  But you have to take the time to learn how to play.”

On his thoughts about tournaments versus cash games:  “Tournaments are like work.  I have to come in when they tell me to be here.  Its 12:00 noon and I have to be here.  It’s the same thing with dinner and same thing with quitting time.  But as a cash game player, it’s something I can do whenever I want.  I can come and go as I want and make my own schedule.”

On differences between tournaments and cash games:  “If I go bust in a cash game, it’s no big deal.  I just come back with more money.  No big deal.  I am used to playing some big cash games and there is no pressure.  But in a tournament, even though all you risk is a thousand, every card, your heart is like jumping. If I get busted here, I can’t re-buy.  The field sizes are just massive, too.”

On luck versus skill in tournament poker:  “These tournaments used to be like 300 players.  Now, they get what – 3,000?  I mean, that’s tough to get through, even for a really great player.  As good as you might play, you still have to get lucky too (to win).”

On what it takes to be a winner:  “To be a great player you have to love what you do.  You have to love the game.”

THE FINAL TABLE

The final table consisted of no former WSOP gold bracelet winners, therefore guaranteeing a first-time champion.

Three different nations were represented at the final table -- Ireland, Sweden, and the United States.

The final table began nine-handed.

Final table participants ranged in age from 23 to 54.  The table’s senior player, Steve Gee, ended up as the victor.

The runner up was Matt Vance, from Lowville, NY.  He cashed for the third time this year – all against huge field-sizes in various No-Limit Hold’em events.  Vance earned $292,232 as the second-place finisher.  He appears to be a player to watch from this point forward.

The third-place finisher was poker pro David Baker, from Katy, TX.  He currently has 23 WSOP cashes.  Baker pocketed $206,813.

The fourth-place finisher was Nick Heather, from Dublin, Ireland.  He had previously cashed big in a few online tournaments.  But this was his biggest score at the WSOP, worth $149,702 in prize money.

The fifth-place finisher was Jeffrey Gross, from Ann Arbor, MI.  This was his first time to cash at the WSOP.  He is 23-years-old and played soccer at the University of South Carolina, his alma mater.  Fifth place paid $109,621.

The sixth-place finisher was Daniel Thomas, from Lincoln, NE.  He is a businessman and aspiring poker pro.  This was Thomas’ first time to cash at the WSOP – which paid $81,203.

The seventh-place finisher was Kyung (Kenny) Han, from Woodbridge, IL.  He has now cashed twice at the WSOP after collecting $60,833 in this event.

The eighth-place finisher was Jared Hamby, from Henderson, NV.  He achieved a few wins at tournaments held in Las Vegas.  This was his tenth time to cash at the WSOP.  He also has two Main Event championship in-the-money finishes, back in 2006 and 2007.  Eighth place paid $46,077.

The ninth-place finisher was Mats Gavatin, from Lidingo, Sweden.  His second career WSOP cash paid out $35,290.

The final table officially began at 2:30 pm and ended at 9:45 pm.  The final table clocked in at 7 hours, 15 minutes.

OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS

The top 324 finishers collected prize money.  Aside from those who made the final table, several former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Dao Bac, David Baker, Burt Boutin, Vince Burgio, Bill Chen, Michael Chow, Perry Friedman, Randall Holland, Vitaly Lunkin, Marc Naalden, and An Tran.

ODDS AND ENDS

This is the 844th gold bracelet event in World Series of Poker history.  Note:  This figure includes every official WSOP event played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded.  It also includes the 11 gold bracelets awarded at WSOP Europe (to date).
 
The final table was played on the so-called ESPN secondary-stage, which is adjacent to the set used for most televised WSOP events.  The secondary stage area is a more intimate setting which allows spectators a closer view of the table and players.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament runs past midnight).  The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year.  The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament, usually around 2:20 pm.  The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played.  The entire presentation is open to public and media.  Video and photography are permitted by both public and members of the media.

Gee requested that the national anthem of United States be played at his WSOP gold bracelet ceremony.

EVENT HISTORY

This was the second $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event held at this year’s WSOP.  Every weekend three huge No-Limit Hold’em events are played.  Most Fridays include a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament.  A $1,000 buy-in event takes place on Saturday and Sunday (two flights/starting days).  Each Monday includes another $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event.  All Day One starting times are noon.

Players were given the option of starting on either Saturday or Sunday.

The first $1,000 buy-in NLHE winner (Event #3) was Aadam Daya, from Toronto, Ontario (Canada).  He entered this event but did not cash.

Poker has grown so big the last decade that a 3,000+ player field hardly attracts much attention.  This was one of the bigger tournaments ever held anywhere.  But the turnout was far short of being a record.

LARGEST WSOP EVENTS IN HISTORY:  Here’s a ranking of the six largest live poker tournaments in history:

8,773 players -- 2006 WSOP Main Event
6,844 players -- 2008 WSOP Main Event
6,494 players – 2009 WSOP Main Event
6,358 players -- 2007 WSOP Main Event
6,012 players -- 2009 WSOP Event 4
4,345 players -- 2010 WSOP Event 3

TOURNAMENT PLAY

This was originally intended to be a four-day event (note there were two starting days).  However, play extended to a fifth day.  This was because when Day Two came to an end, there were still 56 players remaining.  Typically, only one or two tables return for Day Three.  But the large field size and course of events required that play be stopped on Day Four when the final table was reached.

The final hand of the tournament came when Steve Gee had a huge lead and took     up against Matt Vance’s    .  The final board ran out           giving Gee a pair of aces and his first WSOP title.

2010 WSOP STATISTICS
 
(Note:  Includes Results through the Conclusion of Event #15)

Through the conclusion of Event #15, the 2010 WSOP has attracted 18,532 total entries.
 
$30,608,300 in prize money has been awarded to winners.

Tournament attendance is up from this same point last year.  Through 15 events, there were 17,195 entries last year.  There have been 18,532 total entries in the same span this year.

Through the conclusion of Event #15, the nationalities of winners have been:

United States (9)
Canada (2)
England (2)
Hungary (1)
New Zealand (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #15, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:

United States (5)
Vietnam (2)
Canada (2)
England (2)
China (2)
Hungary (1)
New Zealand (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #15, the ratio of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:

Professional Players (10):  Michael Chow, Michael Mizrachi, Praz Bansi, Josh Tieman, Peter Gelencser, James Dempsey, Men “the Master” Nguyen, Matt Matros, Yan R. Chen, Steve Gee

Semi-Pros (1):  Frank Kassela

Amateurs (4):  Duc Pham, Aadam Daya, Pascal LeFrancois, Simon Watt

Note:  A “pro” is defined as a player who makes the majority of his/her income from playing poker.  However, there is some debate as to whether players who have lucrative industry deals and backing should really be termed as professionals.  A “semi-pro” is defined as a player who derives some measure of income from playing poker over a reasonable period of time.  However, many semi-pros have non-poker related business interests which provide a majority of earnings.  “Amateurs” are players who have other means of support and do not play poker for income -- either part-time or full-time.  Each winner is judged on a by case basis.