TOURNAMENT HEADLINES:

Lee Refuses to Surrender

Chris Lee Wins Ten-Game Mix Championship

New Tournament Debuts at 2011 WSOP – Called Ultimate Test of All-Around Skill

Lee Collects First WSOP Gold Bracelet and $254,955 Prize

2011 WSOP Reaches Halfway Point

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

29 Gold Bracelets Won – 29 More Still to Go

OVERVIEW

A hushed debate has persisted for quite some time as to whether the person coroneted as the official “World Poker Champion” should be decided upon based solely on one’s mastery of a single game.

After all, poker is a potpourri of many different card games.  Texas Hold’em may very well be the “Cadillac of poker games.”  But the fact is -- many Mercedes, Jaguars and Lexus cars idle in our poker parking lot, as well.  Poker even has a few Edsels and AMC Pacers.

So many different poker variants are played now in virtually all regions of the world that it’s next to impossible to keep track of all the quirks and peculiarities of every game.  Standard rules, such as a flush beats a straight, no longer necessarily apply.  Now, there are games where the worst hand wins.  Other games aim to create a hodgepodge of low cards of mixed suits.  It’s become tougher to figure out than the tax code.

It’s hardly a surprise then, that the World Series of Poker would do its best to reflect changes and encourage greater diversity.  Accordingly, for the first time in history, a WSOP tournament featured ten different poker games in what was the first event of its kind ever offered. 

Mixed game formats have proven to be popular when they've been offered.  H.O.R.S.E. was the first multi-game ever spread at the WSOP, which is a five-game mix.  There have also been H.O.S.E. and S.H.O.E. events in the past. 

This year, a new gold bracelet event debuted which includes ten different poker games.  Predictably, the event is called the “10-Game Mix.”  The following games are played in rotation:

1. No-Limit Hold'em

2. Pot-Limit Omaha

3. Deuce-to-Seven Triple-Draw Lowball

4. Limit Hold'em
 
5. Omaha High-Low Split
 
6. Razz
 
7. Seven-Card Stud
 
8. Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split
 
9. Badugi
 
10. No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Lowball
 
The first-ever winner of the $2,500 buy-in Six-Handed 10-Game Mix is Chris Lee.  He earned $254,955 in prize money.  Lee was also presented with his first WSOP gold bracelet, which is the game’s ultimate achievement.  Incredibly, this was the first time Lee has ever cashed in any WSOP tournament.  Lee overcame a larger-than-expected field size for a first-time tournament. 
 
The event attracted 431 entries.  The respectable turnout is a strong indication of the growing demand for Mixed Games and for more major tournaments, other than Hold’em.  No doubt, Hold’em will remain king of the poker universe for a long time.  The WSOP Main Event Championship is in no danger of becoming a Badugi competition.  Nevertheless, at least for a time, the new champion can credibly boast that he’s the best all-around poker player in the world, at least until next year when this event shall inevitably return. For a comprehensive recap of Event #29, please visit WSOP.com HERE.

EVENT #29 CHAMPION – CHRIS LEE

The 2011 World Series of Poker $2,500 buy-in Six-Handed 10-Game Mix champion is Chris Lee, from Clarksville, MD

Lee is a 24-year-old poker pro.

Lee was born in Hamburg, Germany.  His father was a businessman and the family lived in Germany.  Lee moved to the United States when he was 11-years-old.

Lee is a recent graduate of Duke University.  He studied philosophy and sociology.

Lee is the second straight Duke graduate to win a WSOP gold bracelet.  The previous event was won by Duke alum, Andy Frankenberger.

Lee has no previous live major tournament cashes.

Lee is/was primarily an online poker player.  He specializes in Sit n’ Go’s and particularly Heads-Up Sit n’ Go’s.  He has played for stages as high as $5,000 per match.

Lee has attended the WSOP each of the last three years.  His results up to his point had been underwhelming.  In the previous 10 tournaments Lee entered this year, he has failed to cash each time.

This was the 11th WSOP tournament Lee played this year.

Lee is the seventh player at this year’s WSOP whose victory represented the first time to cash.

For his victory, Lee collected $254,955 for first place. 

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

Lee currently has $254,955 in career WSOP winnings.

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

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

Question – Please talk about your first gold bracelet and what it means to you.

It means a lot.  I’ve been mostly an online player and I’ve had a decent amount of success on the Internet, but I’ve been playing live tournaments on and off the last three years and I’ve never really had any success.  It’s actually a huge talking point for my friends.  They always give me (deleted) because I was always busting out early and I was really starting to doubt myself.  Was I really a good live player?  But this summer I came out here planning to play a lot of events and really started off slow.  This is my 11th event.  This is my first cash.  And I’m actually not a mixed game player at all.  I usually play just No-Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha.  So a lot of these games are new to me, so I didn’t go in with high expectations, but I ran really good all four days and I learned that in limit tournaments you have to get really lucky because the blinds get really big.  I thought I played really good and I’m really, really excited.  It feels like I have a big monkey off my back.  And I’m the first one out of our group of friends to win a bracelet so I guess I have some bragging rights for that.  It’s cool, it’s awesome.

Question -- Talk about playing Badugi.

I have zero experience playing Badugi. 

Question -- You never even played it online?

I have played it twice at the Commerce (casino) in my life.  I did one time online for low limits.  It was funny because I made it clear at the final table that Badugi was the one game I have no idea how to play.  You guys can go steal my blinds all day and that’s pretty much what happened.  And, Shaun Deeb who was on my left was like a Badugi master and he was raising every hand and I was sitting there like, “Alright, you take my blinds every time.”  But actually, I made a big play in Badugi when I got heads-up, a bluff that worked, so that was a big part of me winning heads-up, I think. 

Question – Talk a little bit about the final table.  Who was the toughest player?

I’d have to say Shaun was the toughest, Shaun Deeb.  I thought Travis played really well, too.  John D’Agostino is a great player too.  We’ve played online before.   He was really short-stacked so he didn’t have a lot going on.  But really everyone was tough.  The thing with 10-Game is that everyone has different strength points.  So when it comes to certain games, some are going to be better than others.  And it’s just a cool setting for everyone to show off their skills in the different games and in their weaker games they play tight, and not winning as many pots.  It’s cool because it gives everyone an even playing field.

Question – What do you think about the hard stop?  When you are the chip leader, some want to keep playing.  Do you feel it stopped momentum?

I mean, we were so tired at the end of last night, we were basically all delusional.  I would have preferred to just have kept playing because you get to a point where you are just in the zone and you just want it over with.  But I think it was good because I hadn’t been sleeping well for the past few days and I got a good night sleep last night and came in fresh.  I was ready to play.  I was really excited to play.  And I knew it wouldn’t last that long, so I just got myself mentally prepared.  I think I was coming in with a good mindset today.

Question – How did you get started in poker?  Starting all those years ago and transitioning to now and winning the 10-Game Mix, which some say is the truest test in poker.  What was that process and how’d you get started in the game?

I started out playing when I was in high school, just with friends.  And it’s funny.  I was always the worst player in all our home games.  I’d work a part-time job and end up losing most my money to my friends.  And I finally started getting good when I put some money online and really started reading the strategy forums, reading books, just really spending a lot of time playing.  Online you see so many hands and so it probably took me six months to a year until things started clicking and I started realizing, ‘Hey, this is fun and I can make good money doing this.’  So from that point on, I put in a lot of consistent hours and I think over the years, you just accumulate all the experience.  I could have never won this tournament a couple years ago because the longer you play, and the more different games you learn, you start to realize they all feel alike, there are a lot of similarities in all the different games.  So I think at some point you, as a poker player, things click and you take your game to the next level.

THE FINAL TABLE

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

The final table contained no former gold bracelet winners – which was the fifth occasion this year that the finale guaranteed a first-time champion.

Only one nation was represented at the final table – the United States with all six players.

The runner up was Brian Haveson, from Garnet Valley, PA.  He is a graduate of Purdue University and now serves as the CEO of international health company conglomerate, Nutrisystem.  Poker wise, Haveson has now cashed 12 times at the WSOP, including an in-the-money finish in the 2002 Main Event Championship.  For his second place finish, Haveson collected a consolation prize amounting to $157,491. 

The third-place finisher was Travis Pearson, from Las Vegas, NV.  This marked his seventh time to cash at the WSOP and was his third top-10 finish this year.

The fourth-place finisher was Shaun Deeb, from Troy, NY.  He is a highly-successful poker pro now with 16 WSOP cashes.  This was his fifth time to cash in 2011, which ties his for the most in-the-money finishes, presently.

The fifth-place finisher was Kendall Fukumoto, from Honolulu, HI.  This was his first time to cash at the WSOP in five years.

The sixth-place finisher was John D’Agostino, from Egg Harbor Township, NJ.  He has been playing tournament poker for nearly a decade and has many previous cashes.  This was his third in-the-money finish at the 2011 WSOP.

Final table play began at 2 a.m. on an early Sunday morning.  Played concluded for two hours before play was suspended for the night at 4 a.m.  The final three players returned for an unscheduled fourth day, which began at 4 pm on Sunday.  The final table ended at 5:30 pm. 

The final table was played on ESPN’s main stage.  The new final table set this year is getting raves in terms of design and appearance.  No stage in the history of poker has ever looked as spectacular.  Viewers will be able to see ESPN’s coverage again once the WSOP Main Event begins in July.

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 42 finishers collected prize money.

Among former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this tournament -- aside from those who made the final table – were the following players:  Daniel Alaei (23), Freddy Deeb (27), Lyle Berman (28), Steve Sung (32), Cyndy Violette (38), “Miami” John Cernuto (40) and Mike Wattel (41).

This was the fourth cash this year for Roland “Speedy” Israelashvili (New York, NY), who is emerging as one of poker’s most consistent tournament performers.  Israelashvili has cashed 17 times on the WSOP Circuit and now has 17 WSOP cashes, all since 2005.

Marco “Cashing Machine” Traniello (Las Vegas, NV) continues to rack up in-the-money finishes at an unprecedented rate.  He cashed for the fourth time at this year’s WSOP.  Traniello now has 32 WSOP cashes since 2005, which is more than any player within that time frame.

Cyndy Violette (Las Vegas,NV) is one of only 12 women to win an open event at the WSOP.  She cashed in 38th place.

Tournament results are to be included in all official WSOP 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 921st 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.

Lee’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Sunday, June 20th.  The national anthem of the USA will be played in honor of his victory.

The tournament ended on the Father’s Day holiday.

EVENT HISTORY

This was the first year any 10-Game Mix tournament has been played at the WSOP.

The tournament and format was introduced due to considerable player interest and demand for increased numbers of Mixed-Game events on the WSOP schedule. 

This marks the first time in history Badugi (also spelled Badougi) has been played as part of any WSOP gold bracelet event.  Like many card games, its origins are not exactly clear.  The game is believed to have originated in South Korea.  Speculation as to when the game first appeared in the United States is that a few American military personnel stationed in South Korea during the 1960s and 1970s learned how to play and brought the game back home, after their service.  Badugi was initially played in private games, mostly in the South.  When poker rooms began opening across the country within the past ten years. Badugi began appearing in various casinos.  Badugi is now a favorite game for many high-stakes poker players.  There are also different forms of Badugi now being played.   

H.O.R.S.E. was the first multiple game tournament offered at the WSOP, which includes five games.  A Mixed Game event was introduced at the 2008 WSOP, which included eight games.  The 10-Game format includes the most variants ever offered for any tournament.  The 10-Game Mix includes the following games:

1. No-Limit Hold'em

2. Pot-Limit Omaha

3. Deuce-to-Seven Triple-Draw Lowball

4. Limit Hold'em

5. Omaha High-Low Split

6. Razz

7. Seven-Card Stud

8. Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split

9. Badugi

10. No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Lowball

WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel stated:  “We really wanted to have Badugi on this year’s schedule.  But we were not quite sure what the reaction would be to the game, since it is new to many people.  Based on the huge turnout, I can now say we expect this will become yet another WSOP tradition which should remain on future schedules, as long as players support the game.”

TOURNAMENT PLAY

The tournament was played over four consecutive days.

The rotation of games was determined by a random draw at the beginning of each day.  Games switch every six hands.  This means the entire rotation of games is complete after 60 hands.

Day One began with 431 entries and ended with 162 survivors.

Day Two began with 162 players and ended with 19 survivors.

Day Three began with 19 players, which played down to the winner.

The tournament officially began on Thursday, June 16th at 5 pm.  The tournament officially ended early Sunday afternoon, June 19th, at 5:30 pm.

NEW STATISTICS (2011 WSOP – HALFWAY POINT)

Through the conclusion of Event #29, players from the follow states have combined for the following number of in-the-money finishes.  The current state leaderboard reads as follows:

Nevada – 424 cashes

California – 408 cashes

Florida – 178 cashes

Texas – 155 cashes

New York – 148 cashes

Through the conclusion of Event #29, players who have entered the most WSOP gold bracelet events are as follows:

Tom Dwan – 26

Shannon Shorr –22

Justin Smith – 22

Michael “Grinder” Mizrachi – 21

Sorel Mizzi – 20

Steven Kelly – 20

Jason Mercier – 20

Dan Heimiller – 20

Through the conclusion of Event #29, players who have cashed in the most WSOP gold bracelet events are as follows:

Kirill Rabtsov – 5 cashes

Shaun Deeb – 5 cashes

14 players tied with 4 cashes each

Through the conclusion of Event #29, female players who have cashed in the most WSOP gold bracelet events are as follows:

Melanie Weisner – 4 cashes

Jennifer Tilly – 2 cashes

Cyndy Violette – 2 cashes

Erica Schoenberg – 2 cashes

Joanne Monteavaro – 2 cashes

Svetlana Gromenkova – 2 cashes

MORE 2011 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #29, the 2011 WSOP has attracted 34,021 combined total entries.  $53,494,710 in prize money has been awarded to winners. 

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

United States (19)

Great Britain (3)

Canada (3)

France (2)

Russia (1)

Ukraine (1)

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

United States (14)

Great Britain (3)

Canada (3)

France (2)

Ukraine (2)

Israel (1)

Russia (1)

Honduras (1)

Indonesia (1)

Germany (1)

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

Nevada (3)

California (3)

New York (3)

Texas (2)

Illinois (2)

New Jersey (1)

Florida (1)

Tennessee (1)

Connecticut (1)

Indiana (1)

Maryland (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 (24):  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, Elie Payan, John Monnette, Mark Radoja, Chris Viox, Dan Idema, Andy Frankenberger, Chris Lee

Semi-Pros (3):  Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii Kovalchuk

Amateurs (2):  Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays

Since tracking first started in 2005, this year’s WSOP has the greatest disparity of professionals winning over semi-pros and amateurs than any year recorded, so far – with 24 out of 29 events being won by pros.

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 7 of the 29 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 consecutive male WSOP gold bracelet winners has now reached 190 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 #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 day start (3,157 entries) – Event #18

·         Largest live $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start (3,175 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).

·         Phil Hellmuth added to his record as the individual all-time leader in cashes (80) and final table appearances (41), with his second-place finish in the Deuce-to-Seven Lowball Championship (Event #16).

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