Las Vegas, NV (June 4, 2011) -- The first of two Seven-Card Stud (High) tournaments concluded today with the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud Championship, held at the 2011 World Series of Poker.

The new poker champion is Eugene Katchalov, from New York, NY.  He earned $122,909 in prize money.  Katchalov was also presented with the ultimate symbol of achievement in the game of poker -- the WSOP gold bracelet.  This marked his first WSOP victory.

For complete recaps of the action, final results and photos visit our event reporting section by clicking here.

Katchalov is a 30-year-old poker pro, who is originally from the Ukraine.  He immigrated to the U.S. at age ten.  Katchalov previously worked as a day trader before taking up poker full time. 

He enjoyed a remarkable year at last year's WSOP.  Despite not quite getting a victory, he was the only player to make final table appearances in three $10,000+ buy-in events during the same year.  In fact, that feat currently stands as a WSOP record.  Accordingly, Katchalov's victory this year was highly-earned and well-deserved.

The runner up was Alessio Isaia.  He is a 24-year-old professional poker player from Cuneo, Italy.  He burst upon the poker scene only three months ago by winning one of the largest poker tournaments ever held in his home country.  Isaia won a major event held in Venice, which included one of the longest heads-up matches in poker tournament history.  Isaia’s match lasted more than eight hours.  Isaia hoped to become the fifth Italian player in history to win a WSOP gold bracelet, but came up short by one spot.

Katchalov won the tournament in impressive fashion.  He made two dramatic comebacks.  The first momentum shift took place when play was 12-handed.  Katchalov went on a rush and moved into contention as the final table began.  Then, he overcame close to a 3-1 chip disadvantage heads-up and ultimately earned the victory.

The third-place finisher was a familiar face to those who watch the WSOP on television.  Last year’s gold bracelet winner Eric Buchman, who also finished fourth in the 2009 WSOP Main Event, took third place in his best Stud finish ever.

This was the fifth official tournament event on this year’s WSOP schedule.  The tournament attracted 357 entries.

Please visit WSOP.com for the complete official report of EVENT #5.

EVENT #5 CHAMPION – EUGENE KATCHALOV

The 2011 World Series of Poker $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud champion is Eugene Katchalov, from New York, NY.

Katchalov is a 30-year-old professional poker player.

Katchalov goes by the first name, “Eugene.”  However, his real first name is “Yevgeniy.”

      Katchalov was born in Kiev, Ukraine.  He immigrated to the United States at age ten.  Katchalov       departed his native country while in the midst of the 1991 revolution and dissolution of the       former Soviet Union.

Katchalov and his mother initially settled in Brooklyn, NY.

      Prior to playing poker for a living, Katchalov was a day trader.

Katchalov visited Las Vegas for the first time six years ago.  He enjoyed a significant cash in one of his first poker tournaments and decided to focus more seriously on the game afterwards.  Katchalov’s skills gradually improved over time.  In 2007, he enjoyed an enormous breakthrough year in tournament poker, when he won $2.5 million.

Katchalov had a huge WSOP in 2010.  But he did not win a gold bracelet.  He became the first player in history to make final table appearances in three $10,000+ buy-in tournaments at the WSOP.  Katchalov had 3rd, 6th, and 7th place finishes, earning more than $500,000 in the process. 

Katchalov plays in both tournaments and high-stakes cash games.

Katchalov noted that he is close to several other top poker pros.  He wanted to thank one player in particular – Nick Schulman who was very helpful in giving tournament advice in recent years.

Katchalov finished 39th in the 2009 WSOP Main Event.

      Katchalov collected $122,909 for first place with this victory.  He was also awarded his first       WSOP gold bracelet.

According to official records, Katchalov now has 1 win, 6 final table appearances, and 19 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.

Katchalov currently has $963,275 in WSOP winnings. Katchalov’s worldwide tournament earnings now total about $6 million. 

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

WINNER QUOTES

On his self-assessment as a Seven-Card Stud player:  “It is not one of my best games.  But I do have experience at it because I play in a lot of (live action) Mixed Games.  That’s where my Seven-Card Stud experience comes from.  I feel comfortable with the game, in general. 

On the competition he faced:  “This was a tough final table.  I did not think the tournament field was that tough. But as we got closer and closer, you see the game change as the field gets tougher.”

On what it takes to win a three-day event:  “It’s very, very tough.  To sit here for three straight days and not break down is not easy.  I put in a lot of work, and I am glad to see it pay off.”

On making three final tables in big events at last year’s WSOP:  “I think anytime you play in a big event against many good players, you are always learning something.  I think I am picking up new things all the time.  I am sure that helped me in this tournament, as well.”
 
On winning his first WSOP gold bracelet:  “I think I made 5 or 6 final tables at the World Series over the years.  I made three final tables last year and was really, really close to winning one.  I came in this year really excited to play.  Now, I can’t describe how happy I am to get that monkey off my back.  It’s also great to win a gold bracelet early in the World Series.  It gives me confidence.  So now, I am ready to go!” 

THE FINAL TABLE

The final table was comprised eight players.  All Seven-Card Stud final tables officially begin when the last table becomes eight-handed.

The final table contained two former gold bracelet winners – Vasilis Lazarou and Eric Buchman. 
 
The final table was comprised of players from the following three countries – Great Britain, Italy and the United States.
 
The runner up was Alessio Isaia.  He is a 24-year-old professional poker player from Cuneo, Italy.  He burst upon the poker scene only three months ago by winning one of the largest poker tournaments ever held in his home country.  Isaia won a major event held in Venice, which included one of the longest heads-up matches in poker tournament history.  Isaia’s match lasted more than eight hours.  Isaia hoped to become the fifth Italian player in history to win a WSOP gold bracelet, but came up short by one spot.  Second place paid $75,911.
 
The third-place finisher was Eric Buchman, from Hewlett, NY.  He finished fourth in the 2009 WSOP Main Event and also earned his first WSOP title last year, playing in the $2,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em tournament.
 
The fourth-place finisher was Jonathan Spinks, from Exeter, UK. 
 
The fifth-place finisher was Dennis Parker, from Oswego, IL.
 
The sixth-place finisher was Kai Landry, from New Orleans, LA.
 
The seventh-place finisher was Ali Eslami, from Los Angeles, CA.
 
The eighth-place finisher was two-time gold bracelet winner Vasilis Lazarou, from Las Vegas, NV.  His two wins took place in 1990 and 1997.
 
The final table began at 4:15 pm PST.  The final table ended at 10:45 pm PST.  Hence, the final table lasted about 6.5 hours.

OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS

The top 40 finishers collected prize money.
 
The defending champion was Richard Ashby.  He did not cash.
 
Only one former WSOP gold bracelet winner cashed in this event -- in addition to those who made the final table.
 
Former gold bracelet winner Brett Jungblut (2005 Omaha High-Low Split) finished 25th.
 
Doug “Rico” Carli finished in 16th place.  He is the all-time leader in WSOP Circuit cashes, with 50 (2005 to present).
 
Five of the 40 paid positions were comprised of non-American players.
 
Tournament results are to be included in the WSOP official records.  Results are also to be included in the 2011 WSOP “Player of the Year” race. 

ODDS AND ENDS

This is the 897th gold bracelet awarded 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 16 gold bracelets awarded to date at WSOP Europe (2007-2010).
 
The tournament was played over three consecutive days.
 
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 to 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.
 
Eugene Katchalov’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Sunday, June 5th.  The Ukrainian National Anthem will be played in honor of his victory.

EVENT HISTORY

Seven-Card Stud first debuted at the 1973 WSOP.  Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson was the first-ever Seven-Card Stud champion.
 
Eight players in WSOP history own two gold bracelets in Seven-Card Stud.  They are Johnny Moss, Bones Berland, Marty Sigel, Ted Forrest, Mel Judah, Rod Pardey, Sr. and Men 'the Master' Nguyen.
 
Artie Cobb and Men “the Master” Nguyen are the only players in WSOP history who won three gold bracelets in Seven-Card Stud.
 
Other former Seven-Card Stud gold bracelet winners include two deceased poker legends -- Stu Ungar and Chip Reese.
 
Years ago, Seven-Card Stud was the most popular game in casinos on the East Coast, primarily in big poker markets including Atlantic City and Connecticut.  In fact, Seven-Card Stud games outnumbered Hold'em games several times over.  Some East Coast casinos did not offer Hold'em, since Seven-Card Stud was the primary game of choice.  But everything in changed in 2003, most crediting (or blaming) the cosmic shift on Chris Moneymaker's WSOP victory, which instantly created millions of new players who became curious about No-Limit Hold'em.  Seven-Card stud has been steadily declining in popularity ever since.  However, it remains popular enough to merit inclusion on the WSOP schedule.  Its close cousin - Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split, a.k.a. Eight-or-Better, is actually more popular now as a tournament game.  It appears headed for Mixed Game formats, rather than multiple stand-alone events based on steadily-declining participation.
 
Last year’s tournament drew 408 entries.  This year’s figure of 357 represents the first significant decline of any WSOP tournament so far this year.
 
TOURNAMENT PLAY
 
The tournament officially began on Thursday, June 2nd, at 5 pm.  The tournament officially ended on Saturday, June 4th, at 10:45 pm. 

2011 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #5, the 2011 WSOP has attracted 3,225 entries.  $10,218,700 in prize money has been awarded to winners, so far.
 
Through the conclusion of this tournament, the nationality of gold bracelet winners has been:

United States (4)

Great Britain (1)

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:

United States (3)

Great Britain (1)

Ukraine (1)

Through the conclusion of this event, the home-states of winners has been:

Arkansas (1)

California (1)

Illinois (1)

New York (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 (3):  Jake Cody, Cheech Barbaro, Eugene Katchalov
 
Semi-Pros (1):  Sean R. Drake
 
Amateurs (1):  Sam Barnhart
 
Through the first five tournaments, there have been no repeat WSOP champions.
 
Note:  Various categories and statistics will be updated with each gold bracelet event as they are completed.