TOURNAMENT HEADLINES:

Darren Woods Mows Down Six-Handed Field

British Poker Pro Wins First WSOP Gold Bracelet

New Poker Champion Collects $213,431

Woods Becomes Third British WSOP Winner this Year

Kim Nguyen Finishes as Runner Up – Second Female in 2011 to Finish Second

A Full House at the 2011 WSOP-- Tournament Attendance Remains Ahead of Last Year

18 Gold Bracelets Won – 40 More Still Up For Grabs

OVERVIEW

Three nights ago, Darren Woods was inconspicuously watching the final table of the $3,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em tournament (Event #14).  His friend, Canadian poker pro Tyler Bonkowski, sat among the final nine.  Bonkowski ended up winning the tournament and his first WSOP gold bracelet.

As photographers snapped pictures and media swarmed around the new poker champion, Woods sat quietly off to the side, absorbing the moment and taking everything in.

As it turned out, Bonkowski’s early victory was merely a dress rehearsal for what was to come later.  Woods pretty much saw how things were done.  So, the following day he returned to the Rio Las Vegas, posted the $2,500 buy-in, blitzed through a 354-player field, and captured his very first WSOP victory.

On Monday night, just as Woods was rising from the final table he had conquered, he nodded to the very same members of the press and staff he had seen a few days earlier.  Only this time, Woods wasn’t window dressing in a background shot.  He was cast in the feature role.

Woods won the $2,500 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em Championship.  He collected $213,431 in prize money.  Woods was also presented with the WSOP gold bracelet, the ultimate symbol of achievement in poker.

With his victory, Woods became the third British player to win a gold bracelet at this year’s WSOP.  Following in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Jake Cody (Event #2) and Matt Perrins (Event #9), Woods became yet another brick in the wall that has become a fortress of talent from Great Britain.  With this year’s WSOP barely two weeks done, England is back on pace to outdo its performance last year, when there were five British gold bracelet champions.

The latest winner, Woods, is a 26-year-old poker pro from Grimsby, UK.  He previously worked as an accountant.  Woods started playing online poker about five years ago and gradually discovered he was making more money playing what was a hobby than his real occupation.  This was the third year Woods has attended the WSOP.  Up to this point, he had four career cashes, all of which took place last year.  Woods also cashed in the 2010 Main Event Championship (556th place).

The final table enjoyed some added drama, fueled by the appearance of Kim Nguyen, who was hoping to become the first female poker player to win an open event in three years.  Nguyen had the best chance of any female so far this year.  Although Maria Ho finished second two weeks ago, Nguyen was in a much better position based on her various chip counts to break the invisible gender barrier that has been cast over WSOP final results since 2008.  But Woods, who later revealed he's a heads-up specialist when playing online, proved too tough.

As Woods was posing for photos, answering questions from the media and basking in the aftermath of his triumph, many fellow bystanders remained.  One must seriously wonder: Who among them shall look upon Woods’ victory on this night as a dress rehearsal and become the next champion? 

Is there such a thing as déjà vu?

To view the complete details of Event #19, please click here.

EVENT #19 CHAMPION – DARREN WOODS

The 2011 World Series of Poker $2,500 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em Champion is Darren Woods, from Grimsby, UK.

Woods is a 26-year-old professional poker player.

Woods was born in his hometown of Grimsby.

Woods graduated from college, where he studied mathematics.  He worked as an accountant for two years.

Woods started playing poker online recreationally.  Then, he started winning.  After a time, Woods realized he was making more money while playing poker and decided it was costing him money to go to work each day.  So, Woods left his job and started playing full-time.

This was the third consecutive year Woods has attended the WSOP in Las Vegas.  He did not cash during his first year.  Then, he cashed four times in 2010.  This victory marked his first cash in 2011.

Prior to the start of this tournament, Woods had played in six tournaments and failed to cash in any of them.

For this victory in this tournament, Woods collected $213,431 for first place. 

According to official records, Woods now has 1 win, 1 final table appearances, and 5 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP. 

Woods currently has $321,458 in career WSOP winnings.

Woods cashed in the 2010 WSOP Main Event Championship, where he finished in 556th place.

Woods is close friends with Tyler Bonkowski, who won his first gold bracelet three days earlier.  Following the tournament, Bonkowski jokingly boasted that he had not only won his gold bracelet first, but his amount of prize money was $7,000 higher.  Woods quipped that he would reach the second gold bracelet victory before Bonkowski.

Woods is to be regarded as a professional poker player, since he has been playing full-time for the past four years.

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

On how he felt just a few minutes after winning:  “Exhausted.  I got absolutely no sleep last night.  Some crazy woman knocked on the door at eight in the morning.  She knocked on the wrong door and woke me up and I went to bed at four last night.  I really want to go out and party and celebrate, but I might just fall asleep instead. It’s pretty amazing to win.”

On winning a Limit Hold’em tournament, when British poker players are better known for their No-Limit and Pot-Limit experience: “I didn’t know it’s an American game, but to be honest, I feel like I have a bigger chance in the Limit tournaments.  I played No-Limit a hell of a lot as well, but if you lose one coin flip in No-Limit or just one bad beat or one bad call, that’s it -- you’re out.  Where as in Limit poker there’s a lot more play involved and you don’t have to be 100 percent accurate.  If you get bad beat then there’s still more hands as long as you play sensibly.  You’re never going to lose all your chips on one bad beat, should you have a decent stack.” 

On runner up Kim Nguyen:  “Yeah, she’s a great player.  She’s very aggressive.  She knows what she’s doing.”

On his friend Tyler Bonkowski winning a gold bracelet just a few days earlier:  “Pretty crazy, my buddy Tyler was telling me some guy won a bracelet and like three days after that, his buddy shipped it.  So they won it like back-to-back, essentially.  It was kind of a semi-inspirational story and made me say, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this as well.’  So, I entered the day with that mentality.  It’s really amazing.  We haven’t made any final tables in our life, I don’t think.  Then, he makes one and wins, and then I make one and I win.  It’s amazing.”

THE FINAL TABLE

The official final table was comprised of six players.

The final table contained no former gold bracelet winners.

Four nations were represented at the final table – including Finland (1 player), Great Britain (1 player), Russia (2 players), and the United States (2 players). 

The runner up was Kim Nguyen, from San Diego, CA.  She barely missed becoming the first female to win a gold bracelet since 2008.  Nguyen had an excellent chance to become only the 13th woman in history to win an open event in its 42 year history.  But she went card dead when playing heads-up and lost the chip lead, ultimately taking the runner up spot and $131,900.

Final table play began at 6:30 pm on a Monday afternoon.  Play ended at 1:30 am on Tuesday morning.  The finale went about 7 hours, which was a bit longer than expected for a 6-handed final.

The final table was played on ESPN’s Main Stage.  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. 

OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS

The top 36 finishers collected prize money.

Matt Matros (New York, NY) is proving to be one of the best Limit Hold’em specialists in poker.  He won the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event last year.  He also cashed in the same event, held earlier this year – taking 11th place.  Matros’ strong showings continued as he took 12th place in this tournament.

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. 

At the time of this report, the current leader in the WSOP “Player of the Year” standings is Amir Lehavot.  He holds a slight lead over Viacheslav Zhukov, who is in second place.

ODDS AND ENDS

This is the 911th 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.

Woods’ gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Tuesday, June 14th.  The national anthem of Great Britain will be played in honor of his victory.

TOURNAMENT PLAY

The tournament was played over three consecutive days.

The tournament officially began on Saturday, June 11th at noon.  The tournament officially ended on Tuesday, June 14th, at 1:30 am.

2011 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #19 (not counting Event #18, which was still being played at press time), the 2011 WSOP has attracted 16,049 entries; $30,484,441 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 (13)

Great Britain (3)

Russia (1)

Canada (1)

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

United States (9)

Great Britain (3)

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)

Indiana (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 (15):  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, Aaron Steury, Darren Woods

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

Amateurs (1):  Geffrey Klein

Five of the 18 winners at this year’s WSOP also enjoyed their first-ever cash with their victories.

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 179 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 finishes by a female player (open events) at this year’s WSOP were by Maria Ho, who finished second ($5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em), and Kim Nguyen, who finished second in this event.

New records set at this year’s WSOP (to date):

Biggest Heads-Up tournament prize pool in history ($3,040,000) – Event #2

Largest live Omaha High-Low Split Tournament in history (925 entries) – Event #3

Largest live Six-Handed tournament in poker history (1,920 entries) – Event #10

Biggest Deuce-to-Seven tournament prize pool in history ($1,184,400) – Event #16

Largest live $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single starting day (3,157 entries) – Event #18

Largest consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,332 entries) – Event #18 and Event #20