23-Year-Old Poker Pro Collects $249,321 in Prize Money

No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball Championship Attracts Record Field Size

Third WSOP Final Table This Year for John Juanda – Finishes Fourth

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OVERVIEW

David Baker was the winner of the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball championship at this year’s World Series of Poker.  He topped one of the toughest and most experienced fields ever assembled for any WSOP event.  About half of the entrants were former WSOP gold bracelet winners.

Baker is a 23-year-old professional poker player from Bloomfield Hills, MI.  He is enjoying a breakthrough year here at the WSOP, having previously final tabled the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship, where he finished sixth.  Baker is a dedicated poker pro who started playing seriously while in college.  He gradually improved to the point he was making a living at the game, mostly toiling away in online poker games.

Baker collected $294,321 in prize money for his first WSOP victory.  But winning the gold bracelet seemed to have more meaning.

“Now, when I say I’m a professional poker player, it has real meaning,” Baker said.  “The WSOP gold bracelet gives real meaning to claiming you are a poker pro.”
 
The $10K Lowball Deuce tournament, one of the longest-running WSOP events (dating all the way back to 1973), crossed the 100-player mark for the first time.  There were 101 players who entered the three-day competition.  The top 14 finishers collected prize money.  

The star-studded competition attracted a swarm of former WSOP champions.  Gold bracelet winners who cashed in this event included Erik Seidel, John Juanda, Daniel Negreanu, Eric Kesselman, and Yan Chen.  

It should be noted that Yan Chen has now cashed in the last three Lowball Deuce events.  He won his first gold bracelet last week in Event #14.

John Juanda became only the second player at this year’s WSOP to make three final table appearances.  Vladimir Shchemelev, from St. Petersburg, Russia was the first.

THE CHAMPION – DAVID BAKER

The $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball champion (Event #19) is David Baker from Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Baker is 23-years-old.

Baker was born in Charlotte, NC.  But he grew up in Bloomfield Hills, MI which is a suburb of Detroit.

Baker started out competing in play money games online, where he learned how to play.

Baker attended Michigan State University for two years.

Baker played poker part-time, mostly online while attending college.  He eventually decided to attend a technical institute in Miami, FL, where he transferred for one year.

While living in Florida, Baker continued to play poker.  He enjoyed his first major score in poker when he won $30,000 in 2006.  He invested more time and energy in improving his game and has been playing professionally ever since.

Baker credits former WSOP gold bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst with coaching him and helping to improve his game.

Baker says he has only been playing Deuce-to-Seven Lowball for about four months.  He notes that few people play that game and have much experience playing in a daily basis, which tends to neutralize his lack of tournament experience in the game.  In short, Baker may not have much experience playing the game, but neither do most of the players who enter (with some notable exceptions).

Baker is dating “Poker Queen” Maria Mayrinck, from Brazil.  She was in the crowd to cheer him to victory at the final table.

Baker collected $294,321 for first place.

According to official records, David Baker now has one win, five final table appearances, and 21 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.

Baker is enjoying a breakthrough year at the WSOP, having previously final tabled the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship, where he finished sixth.  He is now very much alive in the 2010 “Player of the Year” race.

WINNER QUOTES

On what winning his first WSOP gold bracelet means:  “This is the ultimate poker achievement.  It’s a great feeling.  There is not really anything better than this, except multiple gold bracelets.  No one can now say, ‘Well, what have you won’ anymore.”

On his affiliation with other poker pros, including Vanessa Selbst and a large cheering section:  “We all met online.  We all play online poker together.  When it came time to go to the WSOP, we met up and then put faces to our screen names.  It’s awesome.  I love the World Series of Poker.  You get to come and chill with 300 of your best friends.”

On coming out on top of a star-studded tournament lineup, including four former WSOP gold bracelet winners at the final table:  “It makes me feel really good that I could do this.  I never thought I would be playing against them.  But it was really special.”

On how a non-WSOP gold bracelet winner (in general) is perceived at the poker table here at the World Series of Poker:  “I think most people just assume you are clueless, until you prove otherwise.”
 
On winning a tournament that is not played widely by the poker public:  “The thing about this game is, no one plays a lot of it.  Even the people who have the most experience have played relatively very few hands.  They have played perhaps 1/100th of the hands a Hold’em specialist might have played. …  The No-Limit Hold’em stud does not really translate to what you do in this game, but the tournament concepts are pretty much the same about stack sizes, reading opponents, and things like that.”
 
On how he would describe Deuce Lowball:  “It’s a two-street game with very little information compared to the other games.  The key to this game is getting a solid read on your opponents.”

On dating a fellow poker pro (Maria Myrinck):  “We have many things in common.  We play the same tournaments.  My life is poker and when I discovered the game I kind of knew this is what I wanted to do.  To have a partner who does the same thing keeps things interesting all the time.”

On how the victory changes things:  “Now, when I say I’m a professional poker player, it has real meaning.  The WSOP gold bracelet gives real meaning to claiming you are a poker pro.”

THE FINAL TABLE

The final table consisted of four former WSOP gold bracelet winners, including John Juanda, Erik Seidel, Eric Kesselman.

Three nations were represented at the final table – Canada, Germany, and the United States.

The final table began seven-handed.  

The runner up was Eric Cloutier.  He is a former professional hockey player.  He played a short time for the Boston Bruins.  Cloutier now owns a sports bar in Lafayette, LA.  He plays many WSOP Circuit events and is a semi-pro who travels around the country playing in major tournaments.  Cloutier enjoyed his biggest WSOP score yet, worth $181,886.

The third-place finisher was George Danzer, from Munich, Germany.  He cashed for the first time at the WSOP in this tournament, which paid $115,295.

The fourth-place finisher was four-time WSOP gold bracelet winner John Juanda, from Las Vegas, NV.  He is the 2008 WSOP Europe Main Event champion.  Juanda padded his poker bankroll with $78,088.

With his fourth-place finish in this tournament, John Juanda became the second player at this year’s WSOP to make it to three final tables.  He now has one 5th and two 4th-place finishes.  The other player to accomplish this was Vladimir Shchemelev, from St. Petersburg, Russia.

The fifth-place finisher was Doug Booth, from Bowling Green, KY.  This marked his seventh occasion to cash at the WSOP.  Fifth place paid $55,482.

The sixth-place finisher was Erik Seidel, an eight-time WSOP gold bracelet winner.  He received $41,270 in prize money.

The seventh-place finisher was former gold bracelet winner Eric Kesselman, from New York, NY.  He has now cashed five consecutive years at the WSOP.  Kesselman collected $32,080.

The final table officially began at 5:30 pm and ended at 2:00 am.  The final table clocked in at 8 hours, 30 minutes.

OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS

The top 14 finishers collected prize money.  Aside from the final table, former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Daniel Negreanu (8th place) and Yan Chen (12th).  

Yan Chen has now cashed in the last three Lowball Deuce events held at the WSOP.  He won his first gold bracelet last week in Event #14, which was a Lowball Deuce event.

With his fourth-place finish in this event, John Juanda now has 53 career cashes at the WSOP.  This places him into an eighth-place tie with Chau Giang on the all-time cashes list.

With his sixth-place finish in this event, Erik Seidel now has 59 career cashes at the WSOP.  This pushes him one spot ahead of Berry Johnston.  Seidel is now alone in fourth place on the all-time cashes list, behind Phil Hellmuth, Men “the Master” Nguyen, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.

With his cash in this event, Erik Seidel has now finished in-the-money at least once at the WSOP for 20 consecutive years.

With his eighth-place finish in this event, Daniel Negreanu now has 44 career cashes at the WSOP.  This places him into a 16th-place tie with Barry Greenstein on the all-time cashes list.

The defending champion was Nick Schulman, from New York, NY.  He entered this year’s tournament, but did not cash.

ODDS AND ENDS

The tournament was played over three consecutive days, from June 10-12, 2010.

This was the 848th 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.  Although the game is not a popular game for spectators, the presence of a few celebrity players attracted a larger-than-normal viewing audience.

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.

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

EVENT HISTORY

Billy Baxter holds every conceivable record in the Lowball category.  He has dominated this form of poker in a manner that is unprecedented for any player in any game in history.  Perhaps only the late poker legend Bill Boyd, who enjoyed similar domination in Five-Card Draw poker (which is no longer spread at the WSOP), can rival Baxter’s mastery of a single game.

All of Baxter’s seven WSOP gold bracelets were won playing various forms of Lowball.
Baxter holds 16 WSOP cashes in Lowball events, the most of any player in this form of poker.  To give some perspective of Baxter’s excellence, the current second-place leaders in Lowball career cashes are Bobby Baldwin and “Oklahoma Johnny” Hale, each with nine.

Deuce-to-Seven Lowball made its tournament debut at the 1973 WSOP.  The game is rarely played anywhere except at the very highest levels.  It’s rarely spread inside public card rooms -- either as cash games or tournaments.  In fact, the WSOP is one of the few places where this poker variant is offered.  The game was tacked onto the WSOP schedule because it was the preferred game of many high-stakes cash game players.

The very first Deuce-to-Seven Lowball champion was Aubrey Day.  Since then, the Deuce-to-Seven gold bracelet has been won by a royal court of poker champions, including Jack Straus, Sailor Roberts, Billy Baxter, Doyle Brunson, Bobby Baldwin, Sarge Ferris, Stu Ungar, Dewey Tomko, Seymour Lebowitz, Bob Stupak, John Bonetti, Freddy Deeb, Johnny Chan, Erik Seidel, Jennifer Harman, Howard Lederer, O’Neil Longsen, Barry Greenstein and others.

Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball means the worst, or lowest-ranked, hand wins the pot.  The very best possible 2-7 lowball hand is 2-3-4-5-7 of mixed suits.  An ace counts as a high card.  Flushes and straights count against the player.  While a wheel (A-2-3-4-5) is the perfect hand in standard lowball, in Deuce-to-Seven it is usually a losing hand since the ace counts as a high card against the player.  So, K-2-3-4-5 is better than A-2-3-4-5.

In the “Triple-Draw” variant of this game, players may draw up to three times to make their hand.  This tournament employed a “Single-Draw” format.

This same game was played earlier this week (Event #14).  The $1,500 buy-in tournament attracted 250 players, the most of any live Deuce Lowball tournament in history.

There is some difference of opinion as to where and when this game originated.  Since the 1930s, variations of Lowball have been spread throughout California and Nevada.  According to poker theorist David Sklansky, Limit 'Double-Draw' Lowball was first spread at the (now defunct) Vegas World during the early 1980s.  Others cited a game called “Ten-Handed Triple-Draw Lowball” as the forbearer of Triple Draw, which was played at 'Amarillo Slim's' Super Bowl of Poker tournaments in Reno and Lake Tahoe during the period 1979 through 1984.  Since 10-handed poker could only accommodate perhaps three or four players at most due to the number of cards needed to complete a hand, reducing the number of cards (to five) enabled more players to sit in the game.

The game Deuce-to-Seven is sometimes called “Kansas City Lowball.”

2010 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #19, the 2010 WSOP has attracted 21,664 total entries.
 
$38,391,470 in prize money has been awarded to winners.

Through the conclusion of the first 19 events, WSOP tournament attendance has increased over last year.  There were 19,861 entries at this same point in 2009.

Through the conclusion of the first 19 events, WSOP tournament prize money figures have declined slightly over last year.  At this same point in 2009, the sum of total prize money won was $40,168,371.

Through the conclusion of Event #19, the nationalities of winners have been:

United States (13)
Canada (2)
England (2)
Hungary (1)
New Zealand (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #19, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:

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

Through the conclusion of Event #19, the ratio of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:

Professional Players (14):  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, Jason DeWitt; Eric Buchman, David Baker

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.