Ebanks Banks the Big Bucks

Joseph Ebanks Wins First Gold Bracelet at 2011 WSOP

Ebanks Wins $10,000 Buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em World Championship

Instant Millionaire – Champion Rakes-In $1,158,481 Pot

Full House at the 2011 WSOP -- Tournament Attendance Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

46 Gold Bracelets Won – A Dozen More Events Still to Go


Another day, another million dollar-plus prize awarded at the 2011 World Series of Poker.


Many poker fans may not remember a time when the WSOP Main Event champion received a million dollars.  That was big news back then.  Bundles of $100 bills used to be carried out in a cardboard box and were unceremoniously dumped on the green felt of the championship final table in front of a jaw-dropping gallery of gawkers.  Players and spectators were bug-eyed staring at – what at the time was the most amount of cash most had ever seen.

Now, a million dollar top prize -- $1,158,481 to be exact – seems like just another payday at the world’s richest and most prestigious poker festival.

Joe Ebanks, a 26-year-old poker pro from Stow, OH won the $10,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em championship, held at the Rio in Las Vegas.  In addition to the million-dollar prize, Ebanks received his first WSOP gold bracelet, which symbolizes the ultimate achievement in the game of poker.

“This is what it’s all about,” Ebanks said afterward, nearly superfluous to the notion that he had just become a millionaire.  “When I first started playing poker seriously seven years ago, my goal was to get to this stage, and now I’ve achieved it.”

Ebanks, a former college student at Kent State University, defeated a stellar lineup which included several notable names from the elite ranks of online and live poker.  Chris Moorman, a top online poker from England, finished as runner up.  Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, who won his first gold bracelet two weeks ago, finished in third place.  Indeed, from first place down to the the 48th-place finisher, this was as stacked a deck of super-talented players as has been assembled for any WSOP event in 2011.

Indeed, it was a great victory, satisfying on every conceivable front -- in terms of prize money, prestige, and the self-satisfaction of overcoming the best players and winning a world championship.  Joe Ebanks now has 1,158,481 reasons to celebrate.

For a comprehensive recap of Event #46, please visit the tournament portal page HERE.


The 2011 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em champion is Joseph Ebanks, from Stow, OH.

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

Ebanks was and is primarily an online poker player.  In response to the events of “Black Friday,” he is considering moving outside the United States in order to continue playing online.

Ebanks attended Kent State University, in Ohio.  He completed nearly three years of study, but did not graduate.  His major was psychology.

Ebanks has attended the WSOP during each of the past four years. 

For this victory, Ebanks collected $1,158,481 for first place, the second-largest Six-Handed payout in poker history.

This was the largest prize won by any champion so far at this year’s WSOP. 

According to official records, Ebanks now has 1 win, 1 final table appearance and 6 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP. 

Prior to this victory, Ebanks highest WSOP finish had previously been a 22nd-place finish in the $1,500 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event, held earlier at this year’s series.

Ebanks currently has $1,198,982 in career WSOP winnings.

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


On how it feels to win his first WSOP gold bracelet:

“This is a dream come true.  It’s what I have been working on ever since I came into poker, like seven years ago.  I always wanted to win a World Series of Poker bracelet.  And, I also won it in one of the best events to win it in, so it’s great.”

On winning more than a million dollars:

“It’s amazing.  I was backed in the tournament, so I don’t get all of it.  But it’s still more than anything I have ever won, so it’s amazing.”

On having the calmest rail of the finalists, in contrast to a large crowd of English and French supporters rooting for other players:

“It did not bother me.  It made me laugh a little bit.  The other players had much louder cheering squads.  But it did not bother me.”

On the impact of Black Friday on his livelihood as a professional (mostly online) poker player:

“It has affected me.  I lost a lot of my money because of that.  Thankfully, I won some money here today.  But I am going to have to move if I want to continue playing. I am probably going to move after the series is over.”

On how this affects his WSOP plans and future:

“It’s definitely given me more confidence.  Now, I want to come back and win more bracelets.”


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

The final table contained only one former gold bracelet winner – Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier.

Three different nations were represented at the final table – France (1 player), Great Britain (1 player) and the United States (4 players). 

The runner up was Chris Moorman, from Benfleet, UK.  This was his fifth cash this year – which includes 2nd, 3rd, 11th, 18th and 66th place showings.  Moorman has won more than $1 million at this year’s series.  Second place paid $716,282.

Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier was the third-place finisher.  He won his first gold bracelet in the Seven-Card Stud World Championship, which concluded two weeks earlier.

The top three finishers in this tournament all have in excess of $800,000 in earnings this year alone at the WSOP.

Final table play began Wednesday evening at 10:30 pm.  Played concluded about 6 hours later (playing time wise) the following afternoon.  Play was suspended when heads-up due to the hard-stop rule (no more than ten levels of play, daily).

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  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. 


The top 48 finishers collected prize money.

Apart from the final table players, former gold bracelet winners that cashed in this tournament included – Ben Lamb (12th), Joe Cada (26th), Phil Laak (28th), Daniel Alaei (43rd) and Davidi Katai (45th).

Ben Lamb, who finished in 12th place, widened his lead as the current leader in the 2011 “Player of the Year” race.  He now has a 1st, 2nd and 12th place finish – all accomplished within the past two weeks.

2009 World Champion Joe Cada finished in 26th place.  This marked his second time to cash this year.

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 HERE.


This tournament attracted 474 entries.

The average age of entrants was 30.1 years.

There were 12 females who played in this tournament, representing 2.5 percent of the field.

This is the 938th 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 p.m.  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.

Joe Ebanks gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Friday, July 1st.  The national anthem of the USA will be played in honor of his victory. 


Through the conclusion of Event #46 the 2011 WSOP has attracted 53,492 combined total entries.  $98,200,785 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 (29)

Canada (5)

Great Britain (3)

France (3)

Ukraine (3)

Russia (2)

Brazil (1)

Pakistan (1)

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

United States (27)

Canada (5)

Great Britain (3)

France (3)

Russia (2)

Ukraine (1)

Israel (1)

Honduras (1)

Indonesia (1)

Germany (1)

Brazil (1)

Pakistan (1)

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

California (5)

Nevada (4)

New York (3)

Texas (3)

Illinois (2)

Florida (2)

Connecticut (2)

New Jersey (1)

Tennessee (1)

Indiana (1)

Maryland (1)

Virginia (1)

Michigan (1)

North Dakota (1)

Washington (1)

Ohio (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 (35):  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 Payon, Mark Radoja, Chris Viox, Dan Idema, Andy Frankenberger, Chris Lee, Sam Stein, Mark Schmid, Jason Mercier, Mikhail Lakhitov, Fabrice Soulier, Mitch Schock, Matt Jarvis, Justin Pechie, Ben Lamb, Rep Porter, Andre Akkari, Joe Ebanks

Semi-Pros (5):  Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii Kovalchuk, Eric Rosawig, Arkadiy Tsinis

Amateurs (7):  Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays, James Hess, Kirk Caldwell, Ken Griffin, Owais Ahmed, Ken Griffin

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 40 out of 47 events being won by pros or semi-pros.

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 9 of the 47 winners (19 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 this year, no player has yet won two gold bracelets.

The streak of consecutive male WSOP gold bracelet winners has now reached 205 consecutive events.  Aside from the annual Ladies Poker 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 finished second ($5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em).  Kim Nguyen 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 after winning the previous $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball World Championship finished in sixth place in defense of his title.

Reigning world poker champions rarely perform well the following year after their victory.  Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was the last world champion to win a gold bracelet the next year, which happened in 2001.  Perhaps it’s due to the increasing size of the fields.  But there’s also great pressure on the champions to do well.  What follows is a list of the only world champions in history to win a gold bracelet after winning the championship during the previous year:

Johnny Moss (1975)

Doyle Brunson (1977)

Bobby Baldwin (1979)

Stu Ungar (1981)

Johnny Chan (1988)

Hamid Dastmalchi (1993)

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson (2001)

By contrast, players who make it to the final table of the Main Event Championship (November Nine) one year tend to do quite well in subsequent WSOP years.  Consider that last year, three former Main Event finalists won gold bracelets – Eric Buchman, Tex Barch, and Scott Montgomery.  This year, Matt Jarvis won his first gold bracelet one year after making it to the November Nine in 2010.

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 6,332 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

Largest consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,580 entries) – Event #30/Event #32 (broke Event #18/Event #20 record from earlier in 2011 WSOP)

 Largest four-consecutive days field sizes in poker history (2,500+3,752+2,828+3,144 =12,224 entries) -- Events 28, 30, 32, 34, June 16-19, 2011

Largest Mixed Pot-Limit tournament in history (606 entries) – Event #39

Biggest Pot-Limit Omaha prize pool in live poker history ($3,393,400) – Event #42

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 (83) and final table appearances (42).


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 benefiting charity from the Bad Beat on Cancer.