Carter Phillips Wins First WSOP Gold Bracelet
21-year-Old North Carolina Poker Pro Collects $482,774 in Prize Money
After Success in Europe, Carter Phillips Cashes for First Time on American Soil
WSOP Hosts Largest Live Six-Handed Tournament in History – 1,663 Players
Six-Handed Young Guns – Final Table is Second-Youngest Group in WSOP History
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Carter Phillips is the winner of Event 16, the $1,500 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em tournament at the 2010 World Series of Poker. It marked his first WSOP gold bracelet victory after only a short time playing in major tournaments. The 21-year-old poker pro from Charlotte, NC collected $482,774 for first place. This was Phillips’ first WSOP in-the-money finish and final table appearance.
Phillips celebrated his breakthrough win at the European Poker Tour championship at Barcelona (Spain), held last year. He has since played in several major tournaments, almost all of them outside the United States. This was his first cash on American soil after making tournament money in the Bahamas, Czech Republic, and Spain. After playing tournament poker for only about nine months, Phillips already has accumulated more than $1.6 in worldwide tournament earnings, a stunning accomplishment for a newcomer to the game.
Six-Handed games initially became popular at major online poker sites. Rather than playing in a standard game containing nine or 10 seats, many players prefer the short-handed format, which tends to reward aggression over passivity. Six-handed games generally involve more confrontation and often play faster. Six-handed poker is usually an action game.
Given the genesis of the game as an online phenomenon to a full-fledged gold bracelet event, it’s no surprise many who cashed were young (in their 20s) and were experienced online players. In fact, this was the second-youngest final table in WSOP history. The average age of players was 22.8 years. Only last year’s No-Limit Hold’em Shootout, with an average age of 22.2 years, was comprised of a younger group of finalists.
The Six-Handed competition attracted a huge field of 1,663 players. This was the largest Six-Handed live tournament in poker history. The turnout eclipsed last year’s record turnout, which was 1,459 entries, representing a 14 percent increase in attendance.
The top 162 finishers collected prize money. The runner up was Samuel Gerber, from Switzerland.
THE CHAMPION – CARTER PHILLIPS
The $1,500 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em champion (Event #16) is Carter Phillips, from Charlotte, NC.
Phillips is 21-years-old. His actual age is 21 years, 7 months, and 14 days. This makes him the sixth-youngest WSOP gold bracelet winner in history.
Phillips was born in Richmond, VA. He and his family moved to Charlotte, NC when he was age 7.
Phillips loved to play sports when he was in junior high school and high school. He was a three-sport athlete. Phillips believes his competitive spirit was first nurtured in sports, which then transformed to a similar sense of enthusiasm for poker.
Phillips says his goal in life was to be a professional baseball player. But he had a bad experience with a high school coach and gradually lost interest in pursuing the sport seriously.
Phillips attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for one year. He discovered poker during his first year of college.
Phillips’ first cash was a huge victory, at last year’s European Poker Tour championship, held in Barcelona, Spain. He later cashed twice in the Bahamas and once in the Czech Republic.
Phillips was able to play poker in nations where the legal age is 18. Most casinos in the United States, including all casinos in Nevada, have a minimum age of 21.
This was Phillips’ first year to play at the WSOP. Incredibly, his first cash was enormous – worth $482,774.
With this victory, Phillips has already accumulated more than $1.8 million in worldwide winnings – a staggering accomplishment given that he has been playing tournament poker for less than a year.
According to official records, Carter Phillips now has one win, one final table appearance, and one in-the-money finish at the WSOP. His career WSOP earnings now total $482,774.
On what winning his first WSOP gold bracelet means: “It’s 10 times more exciting that anything I could have imagined. After I turned 21, winning a bracelet was my main priority. I was playing a lot in Europe before I turned 21. I won an EPT event in Barcelona in September (2009). But winning something on my home turf means much more.”
On how he developed into a talented tournament player: “I did not start playing poker until I turned 18. And, I started playing full time about 18 months ago. I studied the game really hard. I spend an enormous number of hours playing online. Playing got me a lot of experience.”
On what sources helped him the most: “There are a lot of good online training sites. Also, the biggest thing is talking with friends – that’s mainly how I have gotten better is talking with friends and discussing hands.”
On playing against a friend at the final table (third-place finisher, Craig Bergeron): “It made it weird in a couple of spots – that friend dynamic. I thought, ‘He is doing something because he knows how I play.’ And vice versa. But for the most part, I just ignored the fact we were friends and played him like any other player. Obviously, I would like to have seen him do well, because we travel some together and room together at various tournaments. But it did not change my game too much.”
On the caliber of player at the WSOP versus other tournaments, including the EPT last year where he won the championship: “This was one of the toughest fields I have ever played. The second table I had was the toughest field I have ever had at any tournament. I think the EPT is a little softer than the deeper fields in these tournaments. This is especially true in the Six-Max because all the best players come out.”
On how he would describe his playing style: “I am definitely one of the more aggressive players. Live by the sword, die by the sword.”
One his thoughts about Six-Handed games, which began on the Internet and tend to attract a younger group of poker players: “Generally, online kids are more aggressive. And that’s what it takes to win in the Six-Max because the blinds come around more and you have to keep up. You have to open up your hand ranges and that’s why I think the Internet kids rise to the top near the end.”
On his immediate plans after winning the WSOP gold bracelet: “I’ll party tonight. Then, I will play it out the rest of the Series, especially all of the No-Limit Hold’em events and maybe try and win another bracelet.”
THE FINAL TABLE
The final table consisted of no former WSOP gold bracelet winners, which guaranteed a first-time champion.
Three different nations were represented at the final table -- Peru, Switzerland, and the United States.
The final table began six-handed.
This was the second-youngest final table composition in WSOP history. The six players were aged 21, 23, 21, 26, 21, and 25. The average age in the finale was 22.8 years. Only last year’s No-Limit Hold’em Shootout was a younger group, at an average age of 22.2 years.
Final table participants ranged in age from 21 to 26. The “old man” of the group was Hugo Perez, from Peru.
The runner up was Sam Gerber, from Brugg, Switzerland. This marked his first time to cash at the WSOP. Gerber had previously cashed a few times at the Aussie Millions last year. Second place paid a nice consolation prize totaling $298,726.
The third-place finisher was Craig Bergeron, a 21-year-old poker pro from Farmington Hills, MI. He previously finished third in an EPT event at Deauville, France. Third place paid $189,661.
Craig Bergeron is close friends with the winner, Carter Phillips. They spent many hours in the past discussing hands and strategies.
The fourth-place finisher was Hugo Perez, from Trujillo, Peru. His 26th birthday took place at the same time he made it to his first WSOP final table. Perez cashed for the second time this year. Fourth place paid $124,690.
With Hugo Perez’ fourth-place finish, this is believed to be the highest finish in WSOP history by a player from Peru.
The fifth-place finisher was Russell Thomas, from Wallingford, PA. He recently graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia. Thomas is currently visiting Las Vegas and will begin working as an actuary when he returns home. This marked the first WSOP event Thomas had ever played, and was a most impressive achievement -- worth $84,256 in prize money.
The sixth-place finisher was David Diaz, from Memphis, TN. He was born in the Honduras. Sixth place paid $58,483.
The final table officially began at 4:00 pm and ended at 9:20 pm. The final table clocked in at a lightning-fast 5 hours, 20 minutes – which is the shortest finale yet at this year’s WSOP.
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS
The top 162 finishers collected prize money. Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Chris Bjorin, Ryan Hughes, Ted Lawson, William Lin, Mark Seif, and Jerry Yang.
With his 44th-place finish, Chris Bjorin cashed for the third time as this year’s World Series. He now has 53 career in-the-money finishes, and moved one spot ahead of Chau Giang, which currently ranks him eighth on the all-time WSOP cashes list.
Jerry Yang has now cashed twice at this year’s WSOP. His only previous cash had been his stunning victory in the 2007 Main Event championship. Yang now has three WSOP career cashes.
Longtime tournament circuit touring pro Thong “Jimmy” Tran, from Houston, TX just missed making it to the final table. He took seventh place.
The 20th place finisher is officially listed as Steven Fenic. This is “Steve Fezzik,” one of the world’s top sports handicappers. Fezzik won the NFL handicapping contest at the Las Vegas Hilton the last two years, the most prestigious title in sports gambling, which (for sports bettors) is similar to winning WSOP gold bracelet events in consecutive years.
The defending champion was Ken Aldridge, from Pleasant Garden, NC. He entered this year’s tournament, but did not cash.
ODDS AND ENDS
This is the 845th 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 ESPN Main Stage.
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.
Phillips requested that the national anthem of the United States be played at his WSOP gold bracelet ceremony.
Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em started out primarily as an online poker game. Many poker sites now offer just as many Six-Handed games as full ring games.
Six-Handed cash games and tournaments are not commonly offered at most brick and mortar casinos. The reason is obvious. The games and tournaments require just as many tables, dealers, and resources as a standard nine-handed set-up. But in Six-Handed play, the number of players (and takeout) is reduced by a third. The WSOP believes the game merits gold bracelet status since it requires a different skill set from conventional games, and has proven to be very popular worldwide.
Six-Handed Hold'em emphasizes short-handed poker skills. Rather than a full table of nine players, each table is played six-handed (or less, as players bust out). This generally requires competitors to play cards out of the standard range of starting-hand requirements. It also makes post-flop skill paramount to victory. The game is included on the WSOP schedule in an effort to test as diverse a range of poker skills as possible.
Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em made its WSOP debut in 2005. Three Six-Handed events were included on the 2006 schedule. Last year, there was only one Six-Handed event. Former champions from these events include Isaac "The General" Galazan, Dutch Boyd, Bill Chen, Jeff Madsen, Jason Warner, Ralph E. Porter, Ken Aldridge, and Matt Hawrilenko.
This was the largest Six-Handed live tournament in poker history at 1,663 players. The turnout eclipsed last year’s record turnout, which was 1,459 entries, representing a 14 percent increase in attendance.
The tournament was played over three consecutive days, from June 7-9, 2010.
The final hand of the tournament came when Sam Gerber was short-stacked and moved all-in on a blind steal attempt, holding . Phillips called the three-bet raise and tabled . The final board showed , giving Phillips a pair of aces and his first WSOP victory.
2010 WSOP STATISTICS
Through the conclusion of Event #16, the 2010 WSOP has attracted 20,195 total entries.
$32,853,350 in prize money has been awarded to winners.
Tournament attendance is up from this same point last year. Last year, through 16 events, there were 17,554.
Through the conclusion of Event #16, the nationalities of winners have been:
United States (10)
New Zealand (1)
Through the conclusion of Event #16, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:
United States (6)
New Zealand (1)
Through the conclusion of Event #16, the ratio of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:
Professional Players (11): Michael Chow, Michael Mizrachi, Praz Bansi, Josh Tieman, Peter Gelencser, James Dempsey, Men “the Master” Nguyen, Matt Matros, Yan R. Chen, Steve Gee, Carter Phillips
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.