Jesse Rockowitz Wins WSOP Gold Bracelet in Event 45
NEWS FLASH:  Jesse Rockowitz Wins WSOP Gold Bracelet in Event 45

Does Rockowitz Symbolize the Changing of the Guard in Tournament Poker?

There’s a lesson to be learned at the latest World Series of Poker competition, which concluded early this morning.  That lesson is – names and records do not seem to matter much.  Just because a poker player has not been seen much at the WSOP and has not final tabled an event in the past does not imply he’s anything less of a poker player than some of the game’s most accomplished and recognized players.

See, there’s this thing called the internet, now.  And a few people actually play poker online.  Some of them even play for real money.  Some people and governments might not like this activity, but it’s a fact of life.  The numbers are probably insignificant at this point, but there may even be more than a handful of poker players who are actually scratching out a living playing on their laptops.  I know -- hard to believe.  Occasionally one of these online-savvy wunderkinds bursts upon the poker scene and makes a mockery of the natural order. 

That’s what happened early this morning when a 24-year-old poker pro named Jesse Rockowitz from Petaluma, CA obliterated a 3,000-player field and became the latest WSOP gold bracelet winner.  Prior to this tournament, Rockowitz had earned a whopping grand total of $5,051 at the WSOP.  He earned 144 times that figure in one swoop, ripping $721,373 in loot out of the pockets of a poker field which for the most part had far more live tournament experience.

Indeed, Rockowitz was the winner of the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Holde’m championship.  This marked his first career WSOP gold bracelet victory, following several notable online wins and cashes.

The runner up was Raymond Coburn, from Jackson, NJ who very well could have written the same short autobiography as the winner.  Coburn, who is rumored to have played poker online at least once in his life, collected a nice consolation prize amounting to $446,274.

The third-place finisher was Thiago Nishijima, from Sao Paulo, Brazil.  He is a 31-year-old former banker turned poker pro.  Nishijima hoped to become the second Brazilian WSOP title winner in history after Alexandre Gomes became the first gold bracelet winner ever from South America in 2008.  Nishijima was cheered by about 20 to 30 Brazilians, who gave the final table a World Cup-like atmosphere.  Nishijima earned a well-deserved $315,828.
In other tournament news:

The top 324 finishers collected prize money.  Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Dutch Boyd (15th), Ayaz Mahmood (55th), John “Razor” Phan (59th), Berry Johnston (121st), Tom Schneider (128th), John Juanda (297th), and Jeffrey Papola (308th)

The 19th-place finisher was Paul Magriel, a.k.a. “X22,” from Las Vegas, NV.  Prior to playing poker for a living, Magriel was living in New York City and was one of the top-ranked backgammon players in the world.  He won the 1978 World Backgammon Championship.  Magriel as been cited for having won more backgammon tournaments that any player in the world.  He also wrote a backgammon column for the New York Times during the 1970s.  This marked Magriel’s seventh time to cash at the WSOP.

Five-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Berry Johnston, from Bethany, OK cashed for the 61st time in his career.  This ranks fourth on the all-time WSOP cashes list.

2007 WSOP “Player of the Year” and two-time gold bracelet winner Tom Schneider finished in 128th place.

The 267th-place finisher was Tom McCormick, from Fargo, ND.  This marked his 34th time to cash.  McCormick ranks second on the all-time list behind Tony Cousineau as the player with most in-the-money finishes without a win.

Four-time WSOP gold bracelet winner John Juanda, from Las Vegas, NC cashed for the fifth time at this year’s WSOP and 56th time in his career.  This ranks ninth on the all-time WSOP cashes list.

John Juanda now appears to be at the top of the 2010 WSOP “Player of the Year” race, with other tournaments still pending.

A full report of this event will be posted shortly.

For official tournament results and additional details, please CLICK HERE.