TOURNAMENT HEADLINES:

Chris Viox Wins First WSOP Title

Poker Pro Collects $200,459

Viox Defeats Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton

Defending Champion David Warga Finishes Ninth

ESPN’s Norman Chad Finishes 12th – Congressional Investigation Next?

Full House at the 2011 WSOP-- Tournament Attendance Still Up Double Digits Over Last Year

25 Gold Bracelets Won – 33 More Still to Go

OVERVIEW

Chris Viox won the most recent World Series of Poker tournament, played at the Rio in Las Vegas.  He earned his first gold bracelet by coming out on top in the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split Eight-or-Better championship.

The tournament attracted 606 entrants and lasted four days.  The event had originally been scheduled three days, but ran long because of a fiercely competitive final table that ran long on Day Three.

The champion Viox is a 35-year-old married father of two young children.  He's originally from Houston, TX -- but now resides in Glen Carbon, Illinois.  Viox previously placed third in two WSOP events, held in 2006 and 2008.  Viox collected $200,459 in prize money.

The competition was filled with interesting people and personalities.

For instance, the 49th-place finisher in any tournament would not normally receive much attention.  But Artie Cobb, who picked up a min-cash in this tournament, won this same event in 1983.  He also took second place in this event back in 1976, which was the first year it was added to the WSOP schedule.  The 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. Cobb owns four WSOP gold bracelets, all earned in variants of Seven-Card Stud.  No player in history has more Seven-Card Stud accomplishments than Artie Cobb.

David Warga was the defending champion of this event.  He ended up finishing in ninth place.  Warga was only the third player so far at this year’s WSOP to make a deep run and make a top-ten finish.  The only previous players to accomplish were David Baker in the No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball World Championship and Sean Getzwiller in the $1,500 buy-in Eight-or-Better event.

As play whittled down to two tables, poker media and spectators anticipated what might have been a dream potential matchup between two very well-known television personalities, still alive at the time.  ESPN’s Norman Chad (co-star of most WSOP coverage) and Mike Sexton (commentator for the World Poker Tour) made for an interesting matchup.  But Chad was eliminated in 12nd place, leaving Sexton alone to represent televised poker. 

Sexton was ultimately eliminated as the runner up.  The former WSOP gold bracelet winner, Tournament of Champions winner, and Poker Hall of Fame inductee (Class of 2009) crossed the $1 million threshold in career WSOP winnings with his cash in this tournament.

A full report from this event will be posted shortly.  For a comprehensive recap of Event #25, please click here.

EVENT #25 CHAMPION – CHRIS VIOX

The 2011 World Series of Poker $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card High-Low Split championship is Chris Viox, from Glen Carbon, IL.

Viox is a 35-year-old investor and professional poker player.

Viox is married, with two children.  During play, he kept a photo of his children close by, which could be seen on his cell phone.

Viox is a graduate of the University of Illinois.

When he’s not playing poker, Viox is an avid fast-pitch softball player.  He was on a team called the Belleville Stallions, winners of a national championship a few years ago.

Viox’s first recorded tournament cash took place in 2006.  Since that time, he has won more than $630,000 in live tournaments.  Viox has also won considerable sums as an online player.

This is the sixth straight year Viox has attended the WSOP.

For his victory, Viox collected $200,459 for first place. 

According to official records, Viox now has 1 win, three final table appearances, and 13 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.  Viox also has 7 cashes on the WSOP Circuit, and more than $80,000 in winnings. 

Viox currently has $479,931 in career WSOP winnings.

Viox is to be classified as a professional poker player (in WSOP records and stats), since he has been playing full-time for about seven years.

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

On how it feels to win:

It’s a big relief to win.  I had two third place finishes here.  On one, I had over half the chips in play when we were three-handed.  In the other one, I took four or five bad beats….so it’s a really big relief to finally win it.

On stopping play after Day Three and returning for a fourth day when play was heads-up:

I like the stop rule on the first couple of days.  But at the final table, I think it should be up to the players.  The whole texture of the heads-up match changed.  The dynamics change.  I thought coming back (on Day Four) was a big advantage for him.  If the players want to play it out, I think that should be allowed.

On getting somewhat emotional the instant he knew he won:

You dream about a moment like that, but you do not know how you are going to react.  I thought I would remain calm, and I did afterward.  But during that one instant, I had a burst of energy.

On defeating Mike Sexton heads-up:

Growing up, he busted his chops playing Stud games.  So I knew going in, he was going to be a slight favorite.  I ran pretty well.  But I don’t think I made any serious mistakes, except one.  I think the cards were the biggest difference.

THE FINAL TABLE

The official final table was comprised of the top eight finishers.

The final table contained only one former gold bracelet winner – Mike Sexton (1 win).

Two nations were represented at the final table – Norway (1 player) and the United States (7 players). 

The heads-up battle began with Chris Viox and Mike Sexton very close in chips.  Sexton took the lead during the early stages of the duel.  But Viox enjoyed a strong closing run and dominated the final two hours of play.  The duel was interrupted about 1:45 into play when the maximum number of playing levels was reached on Day three (ten levels is the maximum).  When play was suspended, Viox enjoyed about a 3 to 1 chip advantage.  The two finalists returned 12 hours later and continued the match, which was won by Viox after about 45 minutes.

The runner up was former gold bracelet winner and television commentator Mike Sexton.  He won the 2007 WSOP Tournament of Champions.  Sexton was also inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame -- Class of 2009.  He crossed the $1 million threshold in career WSOP winnings with his cash in this tournament.  Second place paid $123,925.

Mike Sexton won this same event in 1989.

Sexton was interviewed moments after the match ended.

On finishing second:

It’s very difficult.  If I would have won the last pot, I would have had a million in chips….but you can’t overcome the cards sometimes.  It wasn’t’ meant to be.  I do want to say ‘Congratulations’ to Chris (Viox).  I thought he played great. 

On the 22-year-gap between winning in 1989 and finishing second in 2011:

I could have come close to being the player with the biggest gap between gold bracelet wins.  But I understand that record now belongs to Chip (Reese).  It’s only fitting that Chip holds that record.  I guess I will have to wait a few more years and win it then.

A few final thoughts:

You have to play your best and just accept what happens.  I could have gone out when there were three tables left, or whenever.  So, you have to step back and look at it and say, ‘I’m proud of the way I played.’  But when you get so close, you want to win.  Anyway, I had a great run and I’m going to try again next time.

The record for the longest gap between WSOP wins indeed belongs to David “Chip” Reese, at 24 years (1982 to 2006).  Several players who are active today could break Reese’s record, provided they won their last gold bracelet in 1987, or before.

The third-place finisher was Gerard Rechnitzer, from Beverly Hills, CA.

The fourth-place finisher was Hakon Lundberg, from Trondheim, Norway.

The fifth-place finisher was Tyson Marks, from Missoula, MT.

Cory Zeidman, from Coral Springs, FL took sixth place.  He finished 39th in the 2003 WSOP Main Event Championship, won by Chris Moneymaker.  This was Zeidman’s third time to make it to a final table.

Sean Urban, from Seattle, WA finished in seventh place.  This was his second time to cash at the WSOP.

Hernan Salazar, from Santiago, Chile finished in eighth place.  The number of South Americans continues to increase every year at the WSOP.  Salazar is one of the few poker players from Chile to make it to a final table.  Oddly enough, another player from Chile also made it to a final table on the same day.  Nicolas Fierro, who is also from Santiago, made the final table of the No-Limit Shootout (Event #24), finishing third.

Final table play began at 9:00 pm on a Thursday afternoon.  Played ended at 3:45 pm the following day (the last two players broke for the night, in between).  The finale went for about 7 hours, 45 minutes.

The final table was played on ESPN’s so-called secondary stage and the main stage for the heads up dual.  The main stage hosted the $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Shootout Thursday.  The new final table set is getting raves in terms of design and appearance. 

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 56 finishers collected prize money.

Among the former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this tournament -- aside from those who made the final table – were the following:  David Warga (9), Tony Ma (10), Cyndy Violette (15), Frank Kassela (20), Steve Hohn (30), Jeff Madsen (36), Alexander Kravchenko (41), “Miami” John Cernuto (43), Artie Cobb (49), Dutch Boyd (51) and Chris Bell (54).

Artie Cobb (49th-place) won this event in 1983.  He also took second place in this event back in 1976, which was the first year it was added to the WSOP schedule.  Cobb owns four WSOP gold bracelets, all earned in variants of Seven-Card Stud.  No player in history has more Seven-Card Stud accomplishments than Artie Cobb.

The 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.

David Warga was the defending champion of this event.  He was only the third player so far at this year’s WSOP to make a deep run and make a top-ten finish.  The only previous players to accomplish were David Baker in the No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball World Championship and Sean Getzwiller in the $1,500 buy-in Eight-or-Better event.  Warga finished in ninth place.  In addition to winning his 2010 gold bracelet, Warga also won the 2002 Casino Employees Championship.

Former gold bracelet winner Hieu “Tony” Ma barely missed making it to the final table.  He finished in tenth place.

ESPN poker color commentator Normal Chad entered this tournament and finished in 12th place.  This was his best WSOP finish ever.  Chad finished 32nd in this same event two years ago. 

As play went down to two tables, many poker media and spectators anticipated what might have been a potential matchup between two very well-known television personalities, still alive at the time.  ESPN’s Norman Chad and Mike Sexton (commentator for the World Poker Tour) made for an interesting matchup.  But Chad was eliminated in 12th place, leaving Sexton alone to represent televised poker.

The 20th-place finisher was Frank Kassela, who not only won two gold bracelets last year.  He also won the WSOP “Player of the Year” honor.

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

Last year’s same event attracted 644 players.  There were 606 entries this year – which means attendance declined slightly.  Oddly enough, last year's event was one of the biggest percentage increases of any event on the 2010 WSOP schedule.

This is the 917th 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.

Viox’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Sunday, June 19th.  The national anthem of the USA will be played in honor of his victory.

EVENT HISTORY

Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split was the first split-pot game ever to be played at the WSOP, when it was first introduced 33 years ago.  In 1976, Doc Green became the first Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split World Champion.  Interestingly, he won $12,750 for first place that year, which is less than every player who made it to the final table this year.

Since 1976, the list of event winners reads like a "Who's Who" of poker.  Past winners include – Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Mickey Appleman, Phil Ivey, John Juanda, Max Stern, Men "the Master" Nguyen, Mike Sexton, Artie Cobb, Vince Burgio, Cyndy Violette, Rich Korbin, Eli Elezra, and Jeffrey Lisandro.

In 1986, this game was inexplicably omitted from the WSOP schedule.  After some protest by Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split enthusiasts, it was reinstituted and has been included on the poker menu every year.  Since 1995, every WSOP has included at least two Eight-or-Better events. This year's WSOP schedule includes two Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split tournaments – the $10,000 buy-in World Championship and this $1,500 buy-in event.

No player in WSOP history has ever won more than one gold bracelet in this game.

TOURNAMENT PLAY

The tournament was played over four consecutive days.

The tournament officially began on Tuesday, June 14th at 5 pm.  The tournament officially ended on Friday, June 17th, at 3:45 pm.

2011 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #25, the 2011 WSOP has attracted 28,560 entries.  $44,575,435 in prize money has been awarded to winners, so far. 

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

United States (17)

Great Britain (3)

France (2)

Canada (2)

Russia (1)

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

United States (13)

Great Britain (3)

France (2)

Canada (2)

Ukraine (1)

Israel (1)

Russia (1)

Honduras (1)

Indonesia (1)

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

Nevada (3)

California (3)

Texas (2)

New York (2)

Illinois (2)

New Jersey (1)

Florida (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 has been:

Professional Players (21):  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, Jason Somerville, Bertrand Grospellier, John Monnette, Mark Radoja, Chris Viox

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

Amateurs (2):  Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays

Since the tracking of professionals/semi-pros/amateurs first started in 2005, this year is the biggest disparity of professional winning than any year, so far.

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 6 of the 25 winners (24 percent) marked the first time the new champion had ever cashed at the WSOP.

Every 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, no player has yet won two gold bracelets (this year).

The streak of male WSOP gold bracelet winners has now reached 186 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 any female (open events) at this year’s WSOP was by two players -- Maria Ho, who finished second ($5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em) and Kim Nguyen, who also finished as the runner up ($1,500 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em).

The highest finish by any defending champion at this year’s WSOP was by David Baker, who finished in sixth place after winning the previous $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball World Championship.

New tournament records set at the 2011 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 #
 
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 day start (3157 entries) – Event #18

·         Largest live $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start (3175 entries) – Event #20

·         Largest consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,350 entries) – Event #18 and Event #20

·         Largest live Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in poker history (1,071 entries) – Event #22

·         Largest Mixed-Game (Eight-Game Mix) in poker history (489 entries) – Event #23

New player records set at the 2011 WSOP (to date):

The 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).

Note:  Various categories and statistics will be updated with each gold bracelet event as they are completed.