TOURNAMENT HEADLINES:

The King of Lowball

Juanda Slays Hellmuth in Epic Heads-Up Finale

John Juanda Wins No-Limit Draw Deuce-to-Seven Lowball World Championship

Las Vegas Poker Pro Collects Fifth WSOP Gold Bracelet And Moves into Tie for 12th Place All-Time

Champion Wins $367,170 Top Prize

A Full House at 2011 WSOP

Phil Hellmuth Just Misses Gold Bracelet Number 12, Finishes as Runner Up – No Temper Tantrum

2011 WSOP Attendance Remains Ahead of Last Year

16 Gold Bracelets Won – 42 More Still Up For Grabs

OVERVIEW

Of all the poker tournaments he’s won, of all the prize money he’s collected, and of all the (now five) gold bracelets he’s earned in what has become an illustrious playing career, the most recent victory by international poker superstar and tournament veteran John Juanda most certainly ranks right up there among the most memorable.

Juanda won the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball World Championship, which concluded late on a Saturday night in front of a packed gallery of spectators.  Alas, when the final heads-up battle commenced, half the stargazers at the Rio Las Vegas appeared to be cheering for Juanda.  The other half were cheering for poker icon Phil Hellmuth.  More than a few in the standing-room-only crowd were also rooting against Hellmuth.  Most certainly, Hellmuth is well-accustomed to his detractors and even relishes the role of villain.  All great athletes and legendary sports teams divide the public's rage and fancy. 

But there was one thing everyone in the crowd could agree upon – that the Rio was the place to be at this very special moment in the poker universe.  Each spectator was one of a few hundred lucky souls potentially witnessing poker history being made by two of the most skilled craftsmen at the very top of their games.

The path down to the final two players wasn’t easy.  The field of 126 might have seemed relatively small in number when juxtaposed against the multi-thousand player fields in monster-sized Hold'em events.  But measured in terms of skill and experience, this was as tough a tournament as had ever been played.  Consider for a moment that of the final eight players who made it to the final table, seven were former gold bracelet winners.  Two finalists had won this same event previously, including the defending champion David Baker.  In all, the top seven players held a total of 19 gold bracelet wins.  Even the final table bubble player was no slouch.  His name was Greg “Fossilman” Raymer.  Johnny Chan finished 12th.  It was a tooooooough tournament.

This conquest marked Juanda’s fifth WSOP gold bracelet career victory, which now places him amongst even more elite poker royalty.  He joins seven other players who have achieved five gold bracelet victories – including Stu Ungar, Berry Johnston, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Jeffrey Lisandro, Allen Cunningham, “Bones” Berland, and Scotty Nguyen.  That’s pretty select company and ties him for 12th place all-time. 

But it wasn’t just the win, it was how he managed to triumph and make his own night of history.  With the victory, he prevented Hellmuth from taking a comfortable – and some might say insurmountable – two-bracelet lead over his two closest rivals – poker legends Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, who have 10 career wins each.

As for Hellmuth, that's an entirely different chapter.  Not too many players would turn down a second-place finish and a six-figure score at the World Series of Poker.  But Hellmuth wasn’t buying any of it.  Following defeat, he was gracious towards Juanda, who certainly has earned the respect of everyone within the poker world, including Hellmuth.  But what may continue to plague Hellmuth is that he’s yet to win a WSOP title in any game other than Hold’em.  Indeed, all of Hellmuth’s 11 previous gold bracelet wins had taken place in one form of Hold’em or another – Limit, Pot-Limit, and No-Limit.  Nevertheless, he’s become an international dynasty that transcends the green felt and remains arguably the most famous poker player in the world.

But if there’s one player who wasn’t intimidated by any of the Hellmuthisms, the bright lights, or the cheers of adoring worshipers on this night, it was Juanda.  Juanda was cast in the perfect – one could even say, “secondary” – role.  It takes quite a player to potentially upstage someone with Juanda's talent, and Hellmuth ultimately proved he was not quite Juanda’s match on the biggest stage in poker when it counted most.

The two poker giants – polar opposites in terms of disposition and imagery – traded the chip lead back and forth like two prizefighters deadlocked in the middle of the 12th round.  Hellmuth had his chances to win a few times.  He had Juanda down by nearly a 2-1 margin, but was never able to close out the victory.  Meanwhile, Juanda played what seemed to be a near-perfect game.  Never emotional, always in control, consistently pushing even the smallest edges and putting Hellmuth to the test on virtually every decision.

With everything on the line and the entire poker world watching and waiting, out of nowhere – it happened.  It all came so quickly.  Suddenly, Hellmuth was all-in.  Juanda called.  The crowd rose to its feet.  There were screams and shouts.  Then, there was one final draw and Juanda ultimately triumphed, which was a final fisted glove to the hopeful chin of a noble fellow champion.
 
It was a great match.  It was a memorable night.  It was one of John Juanda’s finest hours in a stellar career filled with victories and memorable moments.

One can only hope that someday there will be a re-match.

For a complete recap of Event #16, please visit the WSOP.com tournament portal page HERE.

EVENT #16 CHAMPION – JOHN JUANDA

The 2011 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball champion is John Juanda from Las Vegas, NV.

Juanda is a 40-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV.  He now owns five WSOP gold bracelets.  His last WSOP victory took place at 2008 WSOP Europe Main Event Championship, held in London.  Before that, his previous win was back in 2003.

Juanda was born in Indonesia.  He arrived in the United States as a teenager.  Juanda earned his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University.  He received his MBA from the University of Seattle.

Juanda’s first WSOP cash occurred in 1999.

Juanda has won many other major poker tournaments, most notably the 2005 Aussie Millions $100,000 buy-in poker challenge, and the 2001 World Poker Open Main Event (and numerous others events).  He has now accrued over $10 million in career lifetime winnings worldwide.

Juanda’s previous victory at WSOP Europe included one of the most memorable matches in poker history.  Clocking in at a mind-numbing 19 hours and 10 minutes, it was the longest final table in the 42-year history of the World Series of Poker.  The final table lasted 484 hands.  

For this victory in this tournament, Juanda collected $367,170 for first place.  He was also awarded his fifth WSOP gold bracelet.  Juanda is currently tied with seven other players who have each achieved five gold bracelet victories – including Stu Ungar, Berry Johnston, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Jeffrey Lisandro, Allen Cunningham, “Bones” Berland, and Scotty Nguyen.

According to official records, Juanda now has 5 wins, 27 final table appearances, and 56 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP. 

Juanda’s number of final table appearances currently ranks seventh in WSOP history.

Juanda’s number of cashes currently ranks in a tie for ninth place in WSOP history.

Juanda currently has $4,668,340 career WSOP winnings.

Juanda is to be regarded as a professional poker player, since he has been playing full-time for several years.

WINNER QUOTES (Note: The winner was interviewed at tableside moments after the victory)

On the tough level of competition he faced:  “Tonight there were a lot of great players.  It’s tough to post a $10,000 buy-in tournament, especially in a game like No-Limit 2-7.  So, I didn’t expect it to be easy.  I actually started today as the shortest stack and obviously had to catch some cards.  You know, I just took it one hand at a time.”

On playing heads-up against Phil Hellmuth:  “Hellmuth actually played pretty good.  I was impressed with the way that he played.  He made one really great play against Joe (Cassidy), who had the winning hand and he became the chip leader after that.  So, overall I was very impressed with the way he played.  You know, a lot of people said he couldn’t play anything besides Hold’em, but tonight he played really well.  If the cards would have fallen his way he could be standing here doing the interview instead of me.”

On what makes Deuce-to-Seven a great game:  “You know, I was just thinking about it the other day.  This is a game that provides a lot of action and a lot of bluffing.  You can’t really bluff in other games because the board is showing.  But, in this game you could be bluffing with four of a kind and people have no clue what you have.”

On playing an emotional game of cat and mouse versus Hellmuth:  “He showed me a bluff early.  But there wasn’t really a reason I (showed my bluffs).  Phil is a very emotional player, you know.  You show him a couple bluffs here and there and he can get thrown off his game.  I don’t know if that really happened tonight, but I just decided to do it and see what would happen.”

On which of his five WSOP victories means the most:  “I mean, this is the most fond one, because I just won it.  But, I think the most memorable one that I won would be the WSOP Europe Main Event and there was a lot of money and also a top field.  We played for 20 hours at the final table, so I still remember it like yesterday.  It felt like the dog chasing the cat.  I finally won and I was like, “We have to quit now?”

THE FINAL TABLE

The official final table was comprised eight players.

The final table contained seven former gold bracelet winners – Phil Hellmuth, John Juanda, Richard Ashby, Nick Schulman, David Bakes Baker, Hasan Habib and Steve Sung.  This was one of the most accomplished final tables in WSOP history.  No final table has ever sat seven (of eight) former title winners.  The combined gold bracelet count of all players was 20.

Only two nations were represented at the final table.  Players represented the following countries:  Great Britain (1 player) and the United States (7 players). 

When play began, the final table chip leader was Phil Hellmuth, Jr.  However, the chip stacks were very balanced from the start, which meant any player among the final eight was a legitimate threat to win.

The runner up was Phil Hellmuth, Jr., from Palo Alto, CA.  Hellmuth collected $226,907 as a consolation prize.

With this cash, Hellmuth now has 80 in-the-money finishes.  This ranks as the most cashes by any player in WSOP history.

With this final table appearance, Hellmuth now has 41 such finishes.  This ranks as the most final table appearances by any player in WSOP history.

Following his defeat, Hellmuth took the loss in stride.  He shook Juanda’s hand a few times and waved to the crowd.  There were no Hellmuthisms, for which he has become famous.  Many of Hellmuth’s most memorable moments have occurred in previous years when he has busted out of WSOP events.  Such moments have generated a near-cult following.

The third-place finisher was Richard Ashby, from Watford, UK.  He won a gold bracelet in the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud event last year.

The fourth-place finisher was Steve Sung, from Torrance, CA.  He won a gold bracelet in a $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event, held in 2009.  That was in the largest non-Main Event tournament in WSOP history, with 6,012 players.

The fifth-place finisher was Nick Schulman, from New York, NY.  He won a gold bracelet in this same event held back in 2008.

The sixth-place finisher was David “Bakes” Baker, from Irmo, SC.  He was the defending champion from last year’s same event.

The seventh-place finisher was Hasan Habib.  He won the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split event in 2004.

The eighth-place finisher was Joe Cassidy, from Las Vegas, NV.  He was the only non-previous winner among the final eight.  However, he now has 13 WSOP cashes and four final table appearances.

Final table play began at 4:30 pm on a Saturday afternoon.  Play ended at 12:35 am on Sunday morning.  The finale went about 8 hours and 5 minutes.

The final table was played on ESPN’s Main Stage, which was packed with spectators.  The new final table set is getting raves in terms of design and appearance.  No stage in the history of poker has ever looked as spectacular. 

Action was 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. 

This was indisputably the largest crowd ever to watch a Draw Lowball game in history.  Normally, packed galleries and cheering crowds are reserved for televised Hold’em events.  But the makeup of unique high-profile personalities at the final table made this a riveting theatrical event.  Drama was particularly tense once the heads-up match commenced between Hellmuth and Juanda.

OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS

The top 14 finishers collected prize money.

Among the former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this event were – (the aforementioned players at the final table) plus Greg Raymer, Johnny Chan and Brandon Cantu.

This was perhaps one of the most accomplished payout lists of players in-the-money in the modern era of poker.  Many years ago, big names routinely packed the top of the tournament standings, since fewer players were paid due to field sizes being smaller.  Now, it’s increasingly difficult for even the best players to make it to the top 10 percent and receive a payout.  The law of large numbers and averages means many of the names in the money are not recognizable.  This tournament was a monumental exception.  Ten of the 14 players who finished in the money were former gold bracelet winners, with a combined 30 wins.

Just missing the official final table by one spot was Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, who made his second cash in 2011.  This was Raymer’s highest finish since 2009 (when he came in third in one event).  He has now cashed 16 times during his career.

Former world champion Johnny Chan does not quite have the number of cashes and final table appearances of some of his peers.  This is due largely to Chan not playing in as many events as other players.  Nevertheless, the poker icon with 10 gold bracelet victories now has 44 cashes (which ranks in a tie for 19th place).

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.

“WSOP Player of the Year” standings can be found at WSOP.com HERE. 

ODDS AND ENDS

This is the 909th 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 Championship.

The official 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 pm.  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.

Juanda’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Monday, June 13th.  The national anthem of his native country of Indonesia will be played in honor of his victory.

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.  He 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, with nine each.

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.

There’s 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.”

TOURNAMENT PLAY

The tournament was played over three consecutive days.

The tournament officially began on Thursday, June 9th at 5 pm.  The tournament officially ended on Sunday, June 12th, at 12:35 am.

2011 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #16, the 2011 WSOP has attracted 14,732 entries.  $28,970,960 in prize money has been awarded to winners, to date. 

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the nationality of gold bracelet winners has been:

United States (12)

Great Britain (2)

Russia (1)

Canada (1)

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

United States (8)

Great Britain (2)

Ukraine (1)

Israel (1)

Russia (1)

Honduras (1)

Canada (1)

Indonesia (1)

Through the conclusion of this event, the home-states of (American) winners have been:

Nevada (3)

California (2)

Illinois (1)

New York (1)

New Jersey (1)

Florida (1)

Texas (1)

Tennessee (1)

Connecticut (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 (13):  Jake 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

Semi-Pros (2):  Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot

Amateurs (1):  Geffrey Klein

Up until this tournament, the first 15 tournaments completed had been won by first-time champions (non-winners from previous years).  Juanda’s victory finally broke the streak.

This year, five of the first 16 winners also enjoyed their first-ever WSOP cash with their victory.

Every WSOP over the past 11 years has included at least one multiple gold bracelet champion (wins within the same year).  1999 was the last year the WSOP was comprised exclusively of single-event winners.  The record for most multiple gold bracelet winners in a single year was in 2009, when five players managed to win two or more titles.  So far, no player has yet won two gold bracelets (this year).

The streak of male WSOP gold bracelet winners has now reached 177 consecutive events.  Aside from the annual Ladies 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.

The highest finish by a female player (open events) at this year’s WSOP was Maria Ho, who finished second ($5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em).