TOURNAMENT HEADLINES:

Jake Cody Wins WSOP Gold Bracelet

English Poker Pro Wins Prestigious Heads-Up Poker Championship

$25,000 Buy-In WSOP Tournament Generates Biggest Heads-Up Prize Pool in Poker History

Wild Friday Night:  Rowdy English Crowd Cheers Fellow Countryman Jake Cody to Victory

Gus Hansen’s Consecutive Heads-Up Poker Winning Streak Ends at 12

WSOP Attendance Up Over Last Year

Three Gold Bracelets Won – 56 More to Go!


OVERVIEW


The richest Heads-Up poker tournament in history concluded today with the play and conclusion of the $25,000 buy-in “Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship,” held at the 2011 World Series of Poker.
 
The new poker champion is Jake Cody, from Rochdale, England.  He earned a whopping $851,192 in first-place prize money.  Cody was also presented with the ultimate symbol of achievement in the game of poker, the WSOP gold bracelet.  This marked his first WSOP victory.
 
Cody earned his first victory on this side of the Atlantic in grand fashion.  He had previously earned major tournament victories in France (EPT Deauville) and Great Britain (WPT London), both of which came within the past 18 months.  But this win was truly special since it placed Cody among the elite club of WSOP champions.

This was the second official event on this year’s WSOP schedule.  The tournament attracted 128 entries.  The field size was capped to ensure a number that allowed for a series of one-on-one matches, ultimately bracketing down to a single winner.  The champion was required to win seven consecutive matches – in what was most certainly poker’s equivalent of a mine field in terms of difficulty – in order to ultimately achieve victory.  An international lineup of all-stars competed over a four-day period.

The tournament set a new record as the biggest Heads-Up prize pool ever for any poker series.  The total prize pool amounted to $3,040,000.  This figure eclipsed the previous record mark, which had been $2,406,400 – set during each of the last three years at the WSOP, held 2008 through 2010.  

The final heads-up match between Cody and runner-up Yevgeniy Timoshenko proved to be a thrilling surprise, ensuring a first-time WSOP champion.

In both semi-final matches, each of the two finalists defeated former WSOP gold bracelet winners.  First, Timoshenko defeated two-time former WSOP champion Eric Froehlich, who is widely considered to be one of the game’s best all-around players.  Their match lasted nearly three hours.

Next, Cody busted jet-setting superstar Gus Hansen in a match that was unquestionably the highlight of the 2011 WSOP, to date.  Encouraged by a rowdy band of mostly British supporters, Cody annihilated Hansen in the duel which lasted about two hours.  The outcome was a stinging defeat for Hansen, who up to that point had won 12 consecutive Heads-Up matches in WSOP competition – a record.  Indeed, in the entire 42-year history of the WSOP, no player had ever won as many one-on-one duels in any series of tournaments.  

Hansen’s impressive run in Heads-Up poker matches began at 2010 WSOP Europe in London, where he won seven straight confrontations en route to what was his first WSOP gold bracelet victory.  His success continued at this year’s WSOP, where he won the first five matches of this event.  However, Cody proved too much of a challenge in a quest for a 13th-straight victory.
 
The runner up was highly-respected No-Limit Hold'em specialist, Yevgeniy Timoshenko.  He is originally from the Ukraine, but has spent most of his life in the U.S.  Timoshenko received a nice consolation prize, amounting to $525,980.  Based on his recent results at the WSOP, it would seem only to be a matter of time before Timoshenko enters the championship realm.

The tournament was and will be featured on ESPN, as part of this year’s WSOP coverage.  The semi-finals and final matches were broadcast live on ESPN3.  The full two-part, two-hour program will air later on ESPN.  The debut broadcast is August 2nd, with repeats afterward.   

A complete list of all players who cashed in EVENT #2 can be found here.


THE CHAMPION – JAKE CODY


The 2011 World Series of Poker $25,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Heads-Up Champion is Jake Cody, from Rochdale, UK, which is located outside of Manchester, in the northern part of the country.

Cody is a 22-year-old professional poker player.

Cody started playing poker when he was 15-years-old.

Cody was initially interested in playing pool, but gradually shifted his allegiance to poker.

Cody has a remarkable tournament resume, particularly within the past 18 months.  With this victory, he has now won three major poker titles.  Cody won his first major victory in January 2010 when he was victorious in the European Poker Tour’s (EPT) championship, held in Deauville, France.  Seven months later, Cody won a World Poker Tour victory on London.  Now, ten months later, Cody earned his most prestigious prize in Las Vegas – the WSOP gold bracelet.

This was the second year Cody has attended the WSOP.  He came to Las Vegas last year to play in the Main Event.  He did not cash.  Hence, this was just the second WSOP tournament Cody had entered.

Cody has a remarkable story which explains why he missed several WSOP last year.  He planned to come to Las Vegas and play in multiple events.  However, Cody had a negative feeling about traveling and was reluctant to fly.  On the way to the airport, Cody was in a taxi.  Unfortunately, en route to the airport, the taxi struck a deer on the roadway.  Cody took the accident as a bad omen.  He postponed his trip and decided to come much later and only enter the Main Event.  Cody failed to cash.  This year, Cody had a much better feeling about his journey.  He arrived in Las Vegas safely and ended up catapulting himself to the top of the money ladder, early at this year’s WSOP.

Cody collected $881,192 for first place.  He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.

According to official records, Cody now has 1 win, 1 final table appearance, and 1 in-the-money finish at the WSOP.

Cody currently has $881,192 in WSOP winnings.  Cody’s worldwide tournament earnings now total about $3 million.  

Cody is to be regarded as a professional poker player, since works and plays poker full time successfully.


WINNER QUOTES

On being supported by a loud and supportive group of friends during the final table:  “It was really great having them all here to cheer me on….(but) I tend to zone them all out when I am playing.”

On his pre-match strategy in his final two games:  “Against both Timoshenko and Hansen, I did not have a strategy.  I just decided to go in and go with what I felt.  I wanted to see how they would react first.”

On his toughest opponent during the Heads-Up gauntlet of players he faced:  “I would definitely say Timoshenko was very tough.”

On what he recommends at the poker table, so far as strategy goes:  “Don’t make it easy for them.  Always force them to make tough decisions.  Keep the pressure on them.”

On winning his first WSOP gold bracelet:  “I think this tops it off.  Even though the EPT was my first really big win, this one was the most special.”

On why he thinks of this win as his greatest victory, to date:  “Having all the lads here really made it special for me.”


THE FINAL TABLE

The final table was made up for the final two players.  This is the only WSOP event where the final table is comprised of less than six players.

The final table contained no former gold bracelet winners.  

The final table was comprised of players from the following two countries – Great Britain and the United States.

The runner up was Yevgeniy Timoshenko, from Seattle, WA.  Timoshenko is highly-respected as a No-Limit Hold’em specialist.  He took third place in a tournament held as last year’s WSOP Europe series, which was his best WSOP finish up to this point.  Second place paid $525,980.

The final table began at 9:15 pm PST.  The final table ended at midnight.  Hence, the final table lasted about 2 hours, 45 minutes.


OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS

Only three former WSOP gold bracelet winners cashed in this event.

Eric Froehlich, a two-time gold bracelet winner (2005, 2006) made it to the semi-final round.  He was knocked out by Yevgeniy Timoshenko.  Their match lasted more than three hours.

Gus Hansen also made it to the semi-final round, but was eliminated by Jake Cody.  Their duel lasted about two hours.  Up to that point, Hansen had won 12 consecutive Heads-Up matches in WSOP competition – a record.  In the entire 42-year history of the WSOP, no player had ever won as many one-on-one duels.  Hansen’s impressive run in Heads-Up poker matches began at 2010 WSOP Europe in London, where he won seven straight confrontations en route to his first WSOP gold bracelet victory.  His success continued at this year’s WSOP, where he won the first five matches of this event.

Steve Billirakis cashed in this event.  He was the youngest WSOP winner in history when he won a gold bracelet in 2007 ($5,000 buy-in Mixed Hold’em).  That record has since been broken by Annette Obrestad.

Nikolay Evdakov, who made it to the quarter finals, holds the record for most WSOP cashes in a single year.  He cashed ten times at the 2008 WSOP.

Jon Duthie, from the UK, cashed in this event.  He was one of the founders of the European Poker Tour (EPT).

Seven of the 16 paid positions were comprised of non-American players.


ODDS AND ENDS

The tournament was played over four consecutive days.  It was extended by default into a third day due to the large field size.  

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament end very late).  The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room host 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 pm.  The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played.  The entire presentation is open to public and media.  Video and photography is permitted by both public and members of the media.

Cody’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Sunday, June 6th.  The U.K. national anthem (“God Save the Queen”) will be played in honor of his victory.

The tournament was/will be featured on ESPN as part of this year’s WSOP coverage.  The semi-finals and finals were broadcast live on ESPN3.  The full two-part, two-hour program will air later on ESPN.  The debut broadcast date is August 2nd, with repeats afterward.    

The ESPN3 “live” broadcast was actually a 5-minute delay.  Player hole cards were not shown.  However, the full broadcast that airs later will insert player hole cards.



EVENT HISTORY


This was the first time in history that a $25,000 buy-in No-Limit Heads-Up tournament has been held at the WSOP.  Accordingly, there was no defending champion.

This tournament created the largest prize pool for any Heads-Up poker competition in history.  The previous high mark was set during each of the last three years, 2008-2010.  Those $10,000 buy-in tournaments were capped at 256 entrants.  Accordingly, the prize pool for each was identical – at $2,406,400.  This year, the buy-in increased by 150 percent, up to $25,000.  Although the turnout was half the previous size, the prize pool eclipsed the previous all-time record by a wide margin.

This is the fifth time a Heads-Up event has been included on the WSOP schedule.  Registration was been limited to 256 entries the last three years for $10,000 buy-in events.  For the inaugural tournament played in 2007, more entries were accepted (392).  However, some players randomly drew a bye and did not have to compete in the first round.  This was ultimately viewed as giving too much of an advantage to those players.  Hence, the adoption of the single-elimination format with no byes was adapted for 2008 (and forward).  This also meant that only specific multiples of entrants would be possible.  Hence, the tournament accepted a limited number of entries -- with 128, 256, or 512 being the most likely targets.  It was decided that the tournament would be capped at 128 players – which appears to be the right decision given the public demand.

The Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship winners for the previous $10,000 buy-ins were:
 
2010 – Ayaz Mahmood
2009 – Leo Wolpert
2008 – Kenny Tran
2007 – Daniel Schreiber


TOURNAMENT PLAY

Heads-Up means two players play together at the same table.  There are no more than two players ever playing in a hand.

Matches take place by round.  The first day included the first two rounds of matches.  The field size was reduced from 128 players down 64 in the first round, then 64 to 32 in the second.

The second day included two more rounds of matches.  The field size was reduced from 32 players down 16, which then played down to eight.  Only the winner of each match advanced.

The third day included just one round of matches.  This was due to the semi-finals and finals being televised and the limited number of hours available to finish three rounds of matches.  That determined the final four players.

The fourth and final day included the last two rounds of matches, which first played from 4 to 2, and then played down to the winner.  

The tournament officially began on Tuesday, June 1st, at 5 pm.  The tournament officially ended on June 4th, at about midnight.


2011 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #2, the 2011 WSOP has attracted 1,078 entries.  $4,422,500 in prize money has been awarded to winners, so far.

This year, there are 59 gold bracelet events being held in Las Vegas.  This represents a two-event increase over last year’s number --57.

The average age of players in this event was 30.06 years, which is significantly younger from the event held the previous day (Casino Employees Championship), which was 39.54 years.

There were four females who entered this event.  This figure represents 3.13 percent of the field.

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the nationality of gold bracelet winners has been:
United States (2)
Great Britain (1)

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:
United States (2)
Great Britain (1)

Through the conclusion of this event, the home-states of American winners has been:
Arkansas (1)
California (1)

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:

Professional Players (1):  Jake Cody

Semi-Pros (1):  Sean R. Drake    

Amateurs (1):  Sam Barnhart