TOURNAMENT HEADLINES:

Eric Rodawig Mows Down Brutally-Tough Finale Table Lineup

DC Banker Bankrupts Benyamine, Forrest, Racener and Hellmuth, in Succession

Poker Instructor Wins Eight-or-Better World Championship

For Second Time This Year – Hellmuth Denied 12th WSOP Gold Bracelet, but takes over POY lead

Rodawig Collects First WSOP Gold Bracelet and $442,183 Top Prize

Full House at the 2011 WSOP-- Tournament Attendance Up 11 Percent Over Last Year

33 Gold Bracelets Won – 25 More Still to Go

OVERVIEW

Days, weeks, months, and years from now when reflecting back upon what happened at the 2011 World Series of Poker, the outcome of Event #33 will probably be remembered just as much for those who did not win, as the champion who achieved victory.

Consider the formidable lineup of stellar superstar poker talent which finished -- second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively:

Second Place – 11-time gold bracelet winner and 1989 world champion, Phil Hellmuth, Jr

Third Place – Last year’s WSOP Main Event Championship runner up, John Racener

Fourth Place – Five-time gold bracelet winner and Seven-Card Stud specialist, Ted Forrest

Fifth Place – Former gold bracelet winner and high-stakes cash game pro, David Benyamine

So, who was the dragon slayer who brandished a dagger and slashed the proverbial necks of poker’s royalty?

The new champion’s name is Eric Rodawig.

Rodawig is a name not known to many poker players, or fans of the game.  Yet, his name should be recognized, and after tonight -- will most certainly gain the attention of anyone who plays or follows Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split.

Rodawig is a pro/instructor at the poker training website Cardrunners.  However, until this victory in the most recent World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas, Rodawig’s credentials had pretty much been purely academic.  Now, with his first gold bracelet victory achieved, he can rightfully declare himself as the 2011 Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split World Champion. 

Rodawig is a 26-year-old banker.  He is originally from South Dakota.  Rodawig graduated from Georgetown University.  He now lives with his wife in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC.  

This marked Rodawig’s third time to cash in the WSOP, and second in-the-money finish so far this year.  He collected $442,183 for first place.  Rodawig also received the most coveted prize in the game, the WSOP gold bracelet.

To gain some perspective on Rodawig’s gold bracelet victory, consider the emotional devastation felt by virtually everyone around him who played deep in this tournament.  No adversary felt more envious of Rodawig than the iconic player who finished second – Phil Hellmuth.  Barely a week after his less-than-satisfying runner up finish to John Juanda in the Deuce-to-Seven Lowball championship, Hellmuth had a shot to redeem himself and win what would have been an unprecedented, record-smashing 12th career gold bracelet victory.

Instead, Hellmuth was a WSOP bridesmaid yet again, forced to witness the excruciating victory celebration of someone else from the cold, dark, lonely place that exists only within the perspectives of true poker champions for which there is no substitute for victory.  With two second-place finishes at roughly the midway point of the series, Hellmuth’s only consolation in finishing second was the top spot in the current WSOP “Player of the Year” standings.

The third-place finisher too, endured his own private sense of bitter disappointment.  Few poker players have won more money than John Racener within the past nine months.  But until Racener achieves what has become an elusive moniker of “WSOP gold bracelet winner,” he remains grouped amidst the millions of wannabe's – although clearly in great position both in terms of talent and finance to eventually achieve his prize.

It’s hard to figure out how Ted Forrest was feeling after falling a few spots short of victory, in fourth place.  The calm, coy, poker-faced legend is widely-regarded as one of the best Stud players ever to play the game.  But his wait too, shall continue.  It’s been seven years since Forrest achieved a victory at the WSOP.  Now, his wait will last a little while longer.

Then, there’s David Benyamine, who won his first and only gold bracelet three years ago.  He’s become something of an icon within the poker world, due largely to his regular appearances on several late night poker shows.  He’s also known to be one of the planet’s best cash-game specialists.  But Benyamine too has his pride and wants to win.  The bottom line is -- he didn’t.  That hurts.  Hence, Benyamine joined the procession in the pain parade, along with Hellmuth, Racener and Forrest.

All this leaves is Eric Rodawig all alone with the ultimate bragging rights for a poker player.  He not only won his first WSOP gold bracelet, he did so in the most impression possible fashion.  He beat poker’s very best and can now credibly say he belongs as a rightful member of the club.   

In 2011, Rodawig was the best of the best.

For a comprehensive recap of Event #33, please visit the WSOP.com tournament portal page HERE.

EVENT #33 CHAMPION – ERIC RODAWIG

The 2011 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split world champion is Eric Rodawig, from Arlington, VA.

Rodawig is 26-years-old.

Rodawig is a banker.  He works in corporate finance.

Rodawig is originally from South Dakota.

Rodawig is a graduate of Georgetown University, in Washington, DC.

Rodawig is a pro/instructor at the popular poker teaching website Cardrunners.  He specializes in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split teaching and discussion.

Rodawig was cheered on to victory by his wife and several friends who watched the final table.

For his victory, Rodawig collected $442,183 for first place. 

According to official records, Rodawig now has 1 win, 2 final table appearances and 3 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.  He previously finished fifth in the $1,500 buy-in Razz event, in 2009.  

Rodawig currently has $485,424 in career WSOP winnings.

Rodawig is to be classified as a semi-professional poker player (in WSOP records and stats), since he is working to supplement his income as a player and poker instructor, yet maintains his full-time job.

THE FINAL TABLE

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

The final table contained three former gold bracelet winners – Phil Hellmuth, Jr., Ted Forrest, and David Benyamine.  The former winners had a combined 17 titles between them.

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

This was Ali Eslami’s third final table appearance so far this year.  He is the only player with three such appearances.  A few players have three top-ten finishes, but the final table varies in number by game and Eslami is the only player with a trifecta in that category.

The runner up was Phil Hellmuth, Jr. He earned $273,233.  This was Hellmuth’s second time to finish as the runner up.  He took second place to John Juanda one week earlier.  Hellmuth is now chasing what is becoming an elusive 12th gold bracelet (the most ever by any player).  His last victory took place in 2007.  

Hellmuth added to his legacy as the all-time leader in two notable WSOP categories.  He now has 81 WSOP cashes.  He now has 42 final table appearances.   

Hellmuth has now cashed at the WSOP during each of the last 16 years.

Third-place finisher John Racener has earned more prize money at the WSOP over the past year than any of the other players at the final table.  He was the runner up in last year’s WSOP Main Event Championship.  Since 2010, Racener has collected nearly $6 million at the WSOP – but so far, no gold bracelet.

Fourth-place finisher Ted Forrest’s exploits as a high-stakes poker player are legendary.  The five-time gold bracelet winner is widely-regarded as one of the world’s top Seven-Card Stud players.  However, he has not won at the WSOP since 2004, when he won two titles.

This marked the third final table appearance for Ali Eslami, from Los Angeles.  He took 8th place after previously finishing 6th and 7th.

Final table play began at 6 pm on a Monday evening.  Play concluded nearly ten hours later at 3:45 am, early on Tuesday morning. 

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 16 finishers collected prize money.

The defending champion was Frank Kassela, who won the first of his two gold bracelets last year as the champion of this event.  Following his victory, Kassela went on to win WSOP “Player of the Year” honors.

Among former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this tournament -- aside from the three players who made the final table – were:  Phil Laak (12), Erik Seidel (13), Bill Chen (14) and Cyndy Violette (15).

Cyndy Violette, the former Atlantic City Seven-Card Stud pro has now cashed four times in 2011, the most by any female player.

With his cash in this event, Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel now has 62 career cashes.  This currently ranks fourth place on the all-time list.  Seidel is tied with Berry Johnston at the moment.  Both players are just two cashes away from the player ranked third, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.

Remarkably, of all Seidel’s history of WSOP cashes, this marked the first time he has ever cashed in a Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split event.

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. 

With his second runner up finish, Phil Hellmuth currently leads the “Player of the Year” points race.

ODDS AND ENDS

Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split is a game in which the highest and lowest hands split the pot equally.  However, the lowest hand must first qualify to be eligible for half the pot.  The qualifying low hand must be an "eight-low" or better.  For this reason, the game is sometimes alternatively called Seven-Card Stud Eight-or-Better.

This tournament attracted 168 entries.  Attendance decreased by a fraction from last year’s attendance figure (170 players).

The tournament attracted an older-than-average poker player.  Most Hold’em tournaments attract an average age of about 34 years.  This average age of players in this tournament was 40.  Other than the Seniors Championship, the only older demographic was for Seven-Card Stud.  Yet again, the average age of players who performed well was skewed towards younger players.  Average age of those who cashed – 37 years.  Average age of those who made the final table – 35 years.  Winner’s age – 26.

Only three females entered this tournament.

There were 15 different countries represented in the field.

This was the second richest Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split prize pool in poker history – at $1,579,200.  It nearly topped last year’s record number.  This was only the fourth million-dollar prize pool ever for any Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split tournament.

This is the 925th 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.

Rodawig’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Wednesday, June 22nd.  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" game ever to be played at the WSOP, when it was first introduced 32 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 half what the bottom of the payout scale (16th place) earned in this year's event.

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 – this $10,000 buy-in World Championship and a $1,500 buy-in event to be played June 14-16.

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

TOURNAMENT PLAY

The tournament was scheduled to be played over three consecutive days/nights – which ran into a fourth day due to the late finish.

Day One began with 168 entries and ended with 127 survivors.  Due to the nature of high-low split games, the first day usually ends with a much higher percentage of survivors than Hold’em events.

Day Two began with 127 players and ended with 18 survivors.

Day Three began with 18 players, which played down to the winner.

The tournament officially began on Saturday, June 18th at 5 pm.  The tournament officially ended early Tuesday morning, June 21st, at 3:45 am.

2011 WSOP STATISTICS

Through the conclusion of Event #33, the 2011 WSOP has attracted 41,454 combined total entries.  $64,138,560 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 (22)

Canada (4)

Great Britain (3)

France (2)

Russia (1)

Ukraine (1)

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

United States (17)

Canada (4)

Great Britain (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:

California (5)

Nevada (3)

New York (3)

Texas (2)

Illinois (2)

New Jersey (1)

Florida (1)

Tennessee (1)

Connecticut (1)

Indiana (1)

Maryland (1)

Virginia (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 (25):  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, Elie Payan, Mark Radoja, Chris Viox, Dan Idema, Andy Frankenberger, Chris Lee, Sam Stein

Semi-Pros (4):  Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii Kovalchuk, Eric Rosawig

Amateurs (4):  Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays, James Hess, Kirk Caldwell

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 29 out of 33 events being won by pros or semi-pros.

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 8 of the 33 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 192 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 (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

·         Largest Seniors tournament in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30

·         Biggest Seniors No-Limit Hold’em championship prize pool in history ($3,376,800) – Event #30

·         Largest single-day live tournament start in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30

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 (81) and final table appearances (42).

RAISING AWARENESS:  BAD BEAT ON CANCER AND THE WSOP

Bad Beat on Cancer was created in 2003 by Phil Gordon and Rafe Furst as an easy and fun way for poker players to donate to the Prevent Cancer Foundation.  It all began when Chris Moneymaker pledged 1 percent of his 2003 Main Event winnings and went on to capture the championship, contributing $25,000 when he was awarded the $2.500,000 first- place prize.  By taking the pledge, wearing the patch, and joining ‘Team 1%’, players can feel good supporting a cause that only benefits when they win.  As the official charity of the WSOP, pledges simply indicate to the payouts staff that they are donating 1 percent of their winnings, and the funds are automatically withheld.  A tax receipt is generated and sent to their mailing address.  Several high profile professionals have made ‘life pledges’ of 1 percent of all their winnings -- including Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth Jr., Lee Childs, Paul Wasicka, Andy Bloch, Dennis Phillips, and others.  Since 2003, the initiative has raised over $3.500,000 for cancer prevention research, education, and community outreach programs.  Players can pick up a patch and join Team 1% by stopping by the Bad Beat on Cancer booth, located at the 2011 WSOP opposite the Amazon Room in the concourse.  The Nevada Cancer Institute based in Las Vegas is a benefitting charity from the Bad Beat on Cancer.