Years in the Making
Years as a Poker Pro, Leonard Martin Wins First Gold Bracelet at 2011 WSOP
Martin Wins $2,500 Buy-in Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball (Limit)
Rakes-In $189,818 Pot
Full House at
the 2011 WSOP -- Tournament Attendance Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
Bracelets Won – Nine More Events Still to Go
To give some
indication of what kind of a man Lenny Martin is, consider some of the big-name
players who were gathered along the rail, cheering him on to victory at the
2011 World Series of Poker.
Todd Brunson, Mike Matusow,
Alexander Kravchenko, Oleksii Kovalchuk, Ralph Perry, and others served as his
own personal cheering section. Every one of them stayed until the very
end, when the Ukrainian-born poker pro and real estate investor now residing in
Las Vegas won what he would later describe as a victory 25 years in the making.
“I’ve waited 25 years for this!”
Martin shouted out in multiple languages, as he threw his hat wildly into the
air, ultimately collapsing into the adoring arms of several American, Russian,
and Ukrainian supporters. “I have always wanted this moment to happen,
and now it’s finally here!”
Every poker player who came to
celebrate and share in the victory had his own Lenny Martin story to
tell. In fact, all of these poker pros had numerous "Lenny
stories" -- all with the common thread of a good and decent man who cares
deeply about those who are closest to him.
Consider Ralph Perry’s
Perry told of the time he was
about to give up poker. About 10 years ago, the Russian-born poker pro
was operating poorly. He was broke and preparing to depart Las Vegas, for
good. Before making his final move, Perry paid a visit to his friend,
“Lenny talked me out of it,”
Perry recalled. “And that moment changed my whole life. He told me
I was a good poker player and to stick with it. He talked me out of
leaving and for that reason, I stayed in the game.”
Perry went on to recover from
his downswing. Within a year, he was playing in and beating the biggest
cash games at the Mirage. Within a few more years, he was a WSOP gold
bracelet winner. That's but one Lenny story, of many.
Other players too, gathered
around Martin, demonstrating reverence for a man rarely seen in the
highly-competitive, often cutthroat world of high-stakes poker. Despite
the late 3:30 a.m. hour, nearly two dozen friends were there beside Martin on
his most memorable poker night, eager to share in his joyful moment of personal
and professional triumph.
Martin won the $2,500 buy-in
Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball (Limit) championship, which was officially
classified as Event #49 on this year’s WSOP schedule. He earned $189,818
in prize money, by no means his biggest monetary score given his penchant for
big cash games. But the symbolism attached to this victory was indeed
priceless, surpassing his previous successes due to the historical significance
of this special win. He was presented with the first WSOP gold bracelet
of his career, following what amounts to a quarter century of grinding it out
in cash games and paying his dues as a poker player.
The new poker champion was born
in the Ukraine. He spent half of his life in what was the former Soviet
Union, before immigrating to the United States and settling down in Los
Angeles. About 25 years ago, Martin discovered Las Vegas for the first
time and moved to the gambling Mecca when a new casino opened called the
At the time,
the Mirage was the epicenter of the poker universe. All the big games
rotated around the glamorous new jewel in the desert. In 1989, Martin
began playing $10-20 Hold'em regularly inside the Mirage Poker Room.
Over the next
two and a half decades, Martin gradually blended in with the Las Vegas poker
crowd. He possessed an everyman attitude and a quiet charm that made him
a welcome addition to any poker game, often masking the fact he was the
superior player and the unsuspecting adversary was hopelessly outmatched.
During the 1990s, he played with them all -- starting with (the late) Johnny
Moss at Binion's Horseshoe.
His long list
of table-mates over the years was pretty much a Who's Who of poker. By the time
poker's modern era had come in the mid-2000s, even Martin had to start thinking
his chances to win a WSOP gold bracelet were slipping away every time an
upstart hot-shot twenty-something online pro trickled into the Rio. But
Martin retained hope and confidence. The same advice that once served
Ralph Perry so well, was applied a bit closer to home. Martin had many
talks with his friends and then with himself. It was time to look in the
mirror and truth be told, use a little dose of the inspirational magic that had
once served Ralph Perry so well.
attended the WSOP during most years. He came close to victory a few
times. In fact, he cashed in this same tournament twice during the
previous three years -- finishing in second and sixth place, respectively.
He was so close, yet so far.
tournament, Martin overcame a tough field of 309 players, including three
former gold bracelet winners who also made it to the final table – Jason
Mercier, Eli Elezra and David Bach. It took Martin three-and-a-half long
days and nights to vanquish his final opponent, poker pro Justin Bonomo – who
finished as the runner up. No doubt, Bonomo's moment of triumph will come
some day. In the meantime, he may want to take a seat and glance over the
playbook that has been Lenny Martin's life.
poker player has paid his dues in the game quite the way Martin has.
Which brings up an old adage which goes like this: The best things in
life are well worth waiting for.
comprehensive recap of Event #49, please visit the WSOP.com tournament portal
EVENT #49 CHAMPION – LEONARD MARTIN
World Series of Poker $2,500 buy-in Deuce-to-Seven Triple-Draw Lowball (Limit)
champion is Lenny Martin, from Las Vegas, NV.
Martin is a
55-year-old professional poker player.
However, he also invests in real estate.
born in the western Ukraine. He
immigrated to the United States about 30 years ago.
initially settled down in Los Angeles.
He developed a fondness for poker and began playing in the card clubs
In 1989, when
the Mirage opened up in Las Vegas, Martin started visiting the poker room
regularly. He found he could beat the
games and accordingly, decided to relocate permanently to Las Vegas.
started out playing $10-20 Limit Hold’em.
attended the WSOP for most of the past two decades. He is unsure of how many events he’s
entered. Martin says he prefers Lowball
and Mixed Game events.
victory, Martin collected $189,818 for first place.
made it to the final table of this event 3 out of the past 4 years. He finished second in 2008, sixth in 2010 and
first in 2011.
Martin is to be
classified as a professional poker player (in WSOP records and stats), since he
has been a full-time player for about 25 years.
victory, Martin was asked if he prefers to be classified as an American or a
Ukrainian. He has lived half of his life
in each country. Martin stated he is
proud to be an American. However, he is
also proud of his Ukrainian heritage and accordingly will classify himself as a
Ukrainian in order to give his native country another victory in the official gold
poker players have now won four gold bracelets this year.
THE FINAL TABLE
final table was comprised of the top six finishers.
table contained three former gold bracelet winners – Jason Mercier, Eli Elezra
and David Bach
were represented at the final table – Japan (1 player) and the United States (5
The runner up
was Justin Bonomo. He grew up in
Virginia and now resides in Las Vegas. Bonomo enjoyed playing games from
a young age, and became a devoted aficionado of Magic: The Gathering. The
game taught him important strategic fundamentals which would serve him later
during his poker career. At age 21,
Bonomo began playing poker professionally. He has since earned nearly $3
million in live tournaments alone. His online winnings are estimated to
be at least as high. Second place paid $117,305.
third-place finisher was former $50,000 buy-in HORSE champion (2009), David
Bach. He just missed out on what would
have been a second gold bracelet victory.
Bach is a former professional bowler-turned-poker pro from Athens, GA.
Tanaka, from Tokyo, has two very strong showings in this tournament over the
past three years. He finished second in
2009. He took fourth place this year. He’s one of the highest WSOP finishers in
history from the nation of Japan.
bracelet winner Eli Elezra finished in fifth place. This was his highest WSOP finish in three
bracelet winner Jason Mercier finished in sixth place. This was his seventh time to make it to a
WSOP final table. He is the youngest
player other than Phil Ivey to reach seven final tables by age 25. Ivey had 11 by the time of his 25th
play began Thursday evening at 8:45 p.m.
Played concluded nearly 7 hours later (playing time wise) at 3:30 a.m.
table was played on ESPN’s main stage. The
new final table set this year is getting raves in terms of design and
appearance. No stage in the history of
poker has ever looked as spectacular. Viewers
will be able to see ESPN’s coverage again once the WSOP Main Event begins in
streamed live over WSOP.com. Viewers can
tune in and watch most of this year’s final tables. Although hole cards are not shown, viewers
can follow an overhead camera as well as a pan-shot of the table. The floor announcer provides an official
account of the action.
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS
The top 30
finishers collected prize money.
the final table players, former gold bracelet winners that cashed in this
tournament included – Scott Seiver, David Chiu, David Sklansky, Greg Raymer,
Mike Matusow, Michael Chow and John Monnette.
poker pro Shawn Buchanan cashed for the fifth time this year. All of his five cashes were 22nd place
or higher, which is quite an accomplishment.
No other player has as many premium cashes at this point.
gold bracelet winner David Chiu finished in 14th place. This marked his 52nd career cash,
which ranks 11th on the all-time list.
gold bracelet winner David Sklansky, the noted poker author and theorist,
cashed in 18th place. He has
been playing in WSOP events since the mid-1970s.
poker champion Greg “Fossilman” Raymer finished in 23rd place. This was his third time to cash this year.
gold bracelet winner Mike “the Mouth” Matusow, finished 24th. He now has 31 career cashes at the WSOP.
rivals Sean Buchanan in premium cashes.
The previous gold bracelet winner now has five cashes at this year’s
WSOP, which are 26th or higher.
“Player of the Year” and five-time gold bracelet winner Jeffrey Lisandro
finished in 30th place.
are to be included in all official WSOP records. Results are also to be included in the 2011
WSOP “Player of the Year” race.
of the Year” standings can be found at WSOP.com HERE.
ODDS AND ENDS
attracted 309 entries.
This is the 940th
gold bracelet awarded in World Series of Poker history. This figure includes every official WSOP
event ever played, including tournaments during the early years when there were
no actual gold bracelets awarded. It
also includes the 16 gold bracelets awarded to date at WSOP Europe (2007-2010). Moreover for the first time ever, one gold
bracelet was awarded for this year’s winner of the WSOP Circuit National
WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s
victory (or some hours later when the tournament ends very late). 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. The
ceremony usually starts around 2:20 p.m.
The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played. The entire presentation is open to the public
and media. Video and photography is
permitted by both the public and members of the media.
Martin’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Friday, July 1st. The national anthem of the Ukraine will be
played in honor of his victory.
2011 WSOP STATISTICS
Through the conclusion
of Event #49 (excluding # Event 48 because it has yet to finish) the 2011 WSOP has
attracted 54,251 combined total entries.
$99,927,510 in prize money has been awarded to winners.
conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of nationality of gold bracelet
winners has been:
conclusion of this tournament, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has
conclusion of this tournament, the home-states of (American) winners have been:
New York (3)
conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of professional poker players to
semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets has been:
Cody, Cheech Barbaro, Eugene Katchalov, Allen Bari, Harrison Wilder, Matt
Perrins, Sean Getzwiller, Viacheslav Zhukov, David Diaz, Andrew Badecker, Tyler
Bonkowski, Brian Rast, John Juanda, Aaron Steury, Darren Woods, Jason
Somerville, Bertrand Grospellier, John Monnette, Elie Payan, Mark Radoja, Chris Viox, Dan Idema, Andy Frankenberger, Chris Lee, Sam Stein,
Mark Schmid, Jason Mercier, Mikhail Lakhitov, Fabrice Soulier, Mitch Schock,
Matt Jarvis, Justin Pechie, Ben Lamb, Rep Porter, Andre Akkari, Joe Ebanks,
Semi-Pros (5): Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii
Kovalchuk, Eric Rosawig, Arkadiy Tsinis
Amateurs (6): Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays, James Hess, Kirk
Caldwell, Ken Griffin, Owais Ahmed
tracking first started in 2005, this year’s WSOP has the greatest disparity of
professionals winning over semi-pros and amateurs than any year recorded, so
far – with 42 out of 48 events being won by pros or semi-pros.
conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 9 of the 48 winners (19
percent) marked the first time the new champion had ever cashed at the WSOP.
held over the past 11 years has included at least one multiple gold bracelet
champion (meaning two or more wins within the same year). The last year the WSOP was comprised
exclusively of single-event winners was back in 1999. The record for most multiple gold bracelet
winners within a single year was in 2009, when five players managed to win two
or more titles. So far this year, no
player has yet won two gold bracelets.
The streak of
consecutive male WSOP gold bracelet winners has now reached 207 consecutive
events. Aside from the annual Ladies Poker
Championship, the last female player to win a WSOP tournament open to both
sexes was Vanessa Selbst, in 2008. The
longest “cold” streak for female players occurred between years 1982 and 1996,
when 221 consecutive open events passed without a female champion.
finish by any female (open events) at this year’s WSOP was by two players. Maria Ho finished second ($5,000 buy-in
No-Limit Hold’em). Kim Nguyen also
finished as the runner up ($1,500 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em).
finish by any defending champion at this year’s WSOP was by David Baker, who
after winning the previous $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball
World Championship finished in sixth place in defense of his title.
world poker champions rarely perform well the following year after their
victory. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was the
last world champion to win a gold bracelet the next year, which happened in
2001. Perhaps it’s due to the increasing
size of the fields. But there’s also
great pressure on the champions to do well.
What follows is a list of the only world champions in history to win a gold
bracelet after winning the championship during the previous year:
players who make it to the final table of the Main Event Championship (November
Nine) one year tend to do quite well in subsequent WSOP years. Consider that last year, three former Main
Event finalists won gold bracelets – Eric Buchman, Tex Barch, and Scott
Montgomery. This year, Matt Jarvis won
his first gold bracelet one year after making it to the November Nine in 2010.
tournament records set at the 2011 WSOP (to date):
Heads-Up tournament prize pool in history ($3,040,000) – Event #2
live Omaha High-Low Split Tournament in history (925 entries) – Event #3
live Six-Handed tournament in poker history (1,920 entries) – Event #10
Deuce-to-Seven tournament prize pool in history ($1,184,400) – Event #16
live $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start
(3157 entries) – Event #18
live $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start
(3175 entries) – Event #20
consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,332 entries)
– Event #18 and Event #20
live Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in poker history (1,071 entries) – Event #22
Mixed-Game (Eight-Game Mix) in poker history (489 entries) – Event #23
Seniors tournament in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30
Seniors No-Limit Hold’em championship prize pool in history ($3,376,800) –
single-day live tournament start in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30
Largest consecutive-days starting field
sizes in poker history (combined 6,580 entries) – Event #30/Event #32 (broke
Event #18/Event #20 record from earlier in 2011 WSOP)
Largest four-consecutive days field sizes in poker history
(2,500+3,752+2,828+3,144 =12,224 entries) -- Events 28, 30, 32, 34, June 16-19,
Largest Mixed Pot-Limit tournament in history (606 entries) –
Biggest Pot-Limit Omaha prize pool in live poker history
($3,393,400) – Event #42
records set at the 2011 WSOP (to date):
35-year span between Artie Cobb’s first cash in this event (1976) and most
recent cash in the same event (2011) represents the longest time span in WSOP
history. He accomplished this in
Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split (Event #25).
Hellmuth Jr. added to his record as the individual all-time leader in cashes
(83) and final table appearances (42).
“Tahoe” Andrew added to his record as the player with the longest consecutive
streak of WSOP appearances, currently at 38 years, and counting (1974 to
RAISING AWARENESS: BAD BEAT ON CANCER AND THE WSOP
Bad Beat on
Cancer was created in 2003 by Phil Gordon and Rafe Furst as an easy and fun way
for poker players to donate to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. It all began when Chris Moneymaker pledged 1
percent of his 2003 Main Event winnings and went on to capture the championship,
contributing $25,000 when he was awarded the $2.500,000 first- place prize. By taking the pledge, wearing the patch, and joining
‘Team 1%’, players can feel good supporting a cause that only benefits when
they win. As the official charity of the
WSOP, pledges simply indicate to the payouts staff that they are donating 1
percent of their winnings, and the funds are automatically withheld. A tax receipt is generated and sent to their
mailing address. Several high profile
professionals have made ‘life pledges’ of 1 percent of all their winnings -- including
Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth Jr., Lee Childs, Paul Wasicka, Andy Bloch, Dennis
Phillips, and others. Since 2003, the initiative
has raised over $3,500,000 for cancer prevention research, education, and
community outreach programs. Players can
pick up a patch and join Team 1% by stopping by the Bad Beat on Cancer booth,
located at the 2011 WSOP opposite the Amazon Room in the concourse. The Nevada Cancer
Institute based in Las Vegas is a benefiting charity from the Bad Beat on
Various categories and statistics will be updated with each gold
bracelet event as they are completed.