Prince of Poker
Wins First Gold Bracelet at 2011 WSOP
Player Wins $2,500 Buy-in Mixed High-Low Split Championship
Grinder” Mizrachi Finishes as Runner-Up
Full House at
the 2011 WSOP -- Tournament Attendance Shows No Signs of Slowing
Bracelets Won – 11 More Events Still to Go
successful poker player has at least one career defining moment.
For Owais Ahmed, that special
moment took place between 1:30 and 3:00 a.m., during the early morning hours of
Ahmed, a relatively unknown
amateur poker player – albeit with a strong pedigree of previous tournament
accomplishments -- faced one of poker’s most formidable foes. Michael
“the Grinder” Mizrachi, the decorated $4 million man from last year’s WSOP and
a living legend of the modern era, who was but a few hands away from winning
what would have been his second career gold bracelet.
Everything pointed to a Mizrachi
victory. He enjoyed a 3-to-1 chip lead playing a limit format. He
had his entire family on the rail cheering. And, truth be told – it was
Mizrachi who had loads of experience in high-pressure tournament situations,
playing for world titles.
But something unprecedented
happened on the way to the Mizrachi’s victory celebration. The grind came
to a screeching halt.
Indeed, Ahmed seemed to scoop
every key pot played during the final 90 minutes. When Mizrachi would get
dealt two big pair, Ahmed ended up with three-of-a-kind. When Mizrachi
seemed to have an emergency low to stop the siphoning of chips, the determined
Ahmed would manage to catch a better low and scoop the pot.
In short, the poles of a poker
tournament shifted – day spun into night for Mizrachi, while Ahmed basked in
the glory at the dawn of an ever-apparent victory that was soon to come.
“Actually, when we started the
match, it was like a 50-to-1 crowd advantage for Mizrachi,” Ahmed recalled
afterward. “I had a chip disadvantage. The whole room felt really
small, and it felt like it was me against the world….I meditated a little bit,
and I said, you know -- I am just going to come out and play my A-game, and
that is going to win me that bracelet. The crowd doesn’t matter. I
put my glasses on, I was in my zone, and when I do that, I am as good as anyone
in the world.”
Ahmed proved it. He ended
up winning the Mixed High-Low Split championship, which is a combination of two
popular forms of poker – Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split and Omaha High-Low
Ahmed collected $255,959 for
first place. He was also presented with his first WSOP gold
bracelet. It was an overwhelming experience for Ahmed, who is originally
from Pakistan and now resides in Orange County, CA.
“I can’t believe it’s real right
now,” Ahmed said. “I played my heart out. I played my A-game and in
the end, it all worked out for me. I’m ecstatic.”
Ahmed is a 27-year-old data
warehouse analyst and a supply chain manager. He holds a college degree
from UC-Irvine. He also attended film school at UCLA.
For Ahmed, being born in Pakistan
was an extra source of pride. He noted that Pakistan has produced several
champions in other forms of sport. But he also acknowledged that poker
has not become a part of Pakistani culture the way it has for other countries,
at least not yet.
Alas, Pakistan is normally not a
nation one associates with poker. To be fair, the nation has produced
some very fine poker players, most notably former gold bracelet winner Hasan
And so, in
what may have been the very first WSOP heads-up duel in history between two
poker players with roots linked back to the Middle East, Ahmed prevailed in a
wildly entertaining match that was everything a great poker showdown should be
– both memorable and historic.
to this story: On Thursday afternoon, poker champion Owais Ahmed will
take the WSOP main stage for his gold bracelet ceremony. He will join
another WSOP winner from a previous event, named Ken Griffin -- who happens to
be a former U.S. Marine. Griffin served in both Iraq and
Afghanistan. Illustrating that poker is a game that brings people
together from all cultures and different backgrounds, the WSOP hopes to serve
as a shining example of all the good things that are possible.
For a comprehensive recap of Event
#47, please visit the WSOP.com tournament portal page HERE.
EVENT #47 CHAMPION – OWAIS AHMED
World Series of Poker $2,500 buy-in Mixed High-Low Split (Seven-Card
Stud/Omaha) champion is Owais Ahmed, from Irvine, CA.
Ahmed is a
27-year-old data warehouse analyst and supply chain project manager.
born in Karachi, Pakistan.
Ahmed is a
graduate of the University of California at Irvine where he earned a degree in
computer science. He also attended film
school at UCLA.
attended the WSOP during each of the past four years.
victory, Ahmed collected $255,959 for first place.
official records, Ahmed now has 1 win, 2 final table appearances and 6
in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.
has $318,539 in career WSOP winnings.
Ahmed’s fourth time to cash this year.
Ahmed is to be classified
as an amateur poker player (in WSOP records and stats), since he has a
full-time job in another career.
other known WSOP gold bracelet winner to have been born in Pakistan is Hasan
Habib, who is also originally from Karachi.
How do you feel winning your first gold
believe it’s real right now. I played my
heart out. I played my A-game and in the end, it all worked out for me. I’m ecstatic.”
Can you tell us a little bit about the Final
Table when you reached it? Who was on it?
Table started with Mike Mizrachi – ‘The Grinder.’ He had a third of the chips in play. We had Scotty Nguyen, Abe Mosseri, another
online player, a lot of really, really good players. And I just played my hands, I picked my
spots. And I waited it out until I got
heads-up and Grinder had like a 3-1 chip lead heads-up, and you know, I just
grinded through it. I just played my A-game,
picked my spots, flustered him a few times, and got some hands.”
Can you run over your final hand and how it
were playing Omaha Hi-Low. Grinder
raised. He only had three and a half big
bets and I had Queen—Ten—Three--Five, double suited. Flop came Eight, Jack, Four. I have a double gutter for a wheel draw and a
Broadway. So we just got it in and I hit
a low and flush.”
Obviously it’s unusual to have a Pakistani
player. Tell us more about that.
a lot of time in America, but my family is from Pakistan. I’m just representing Pakistan in the World
Series of Poker. It’s a great
honor. Growing up, I watched Pakistan
win the Field Hockey World Cup, the Cricket World Cup, and now…Pakistan has a
World Series of Poker champion. And that
is a great honor for me.”
When you started the heads-up match, you were
down more than 2-1. It seemed like the
crowd was all friends and family of Mizrachi.
Can you tell us how you kept your focus?
when we started the match, it was like a 50-1 crowd advantage for
Mizrachi. And, you know, I had a chip
disadvantage. And the whole room felt
really small, and it felt like it was me against the world. And then we played for about 20 minutes, then
we had a break. And during break, I went
and washed my face. I meditated a little
bit, and I said, you know, I am just going to come out and play my A-game, and
that is going to win me that bracelet.
The crowd doesn’t matter. I put
my glasses on, I was in my zone, and when I do that, I am as good as anyone in
THE FINAL TABLE
final table was comprised of the top eight finishers.
table contained three former gold bracelet winners – Scotty Nguyen, Michael
“the Grinder” Mizrachi, and Abe Mosseri.
Only one nation
was represented at the final table – the United States (8 players). However, the winner was born in Pakistan and
will be classified as being from that nation, per his request.
The runner up
was former gold bracelet winner, Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi. He won his first WSOP gold bracelet last year,
in the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship. That victory paid
$1,559,046. He went on to cash a total of five times over the entire
series, making an unfathomable four final table appearances. Most
impressive of all, was his astounding run in the 2010 Main Event Championship –
where he outlasted 7,315 players and ultimately finished in fifth place.
That paid another $2,332,992. Mizrachi’s financial take from last year’s
WSOP amounted to more than $4 million.
He added another $158,148 to his wallet, but no second gold bracelet.
play began Wednesday at 9 p.m. Played
concluded a bit more than six hours later (playing time wise) at 3:15 a.m.
table was played on ESPN’s secondary stage.
The main state hosted the finals of the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em
tournament. 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.
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 48
finishers collected prize money.
Fourteen of the players who cashed were previous gold bracelet winners.
the final table, former gold bracelet winners that cashed in this tournament
included – Chris Bell (14th), Brent Carter (16th), Thomas
“Thunder” Keller (17th), Barry Greenstein (19th), Richard
Ashby (20th), Jerrod Ankenman (23rd), Perry Friedman (29th),
Josh Arieh (36th), Peter Gelencser (38th), Mickey
Appleman (40th) and Alexander Kravchenko (45th).
With his 19th
place finish, Barry Greenstein now has 49 career cashes, which places him in a
tie for 14th place on the all-time list.
Buss, majority owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and a longtime WSOP
participant, finished in 25th place.
Buss first cashed at the WSOP back in 1991.
are to be included in all official WSOP records. Results are also to be included in the 2011
WSOP “Player of the Year” race.
of the Year” standings can be found HERE.
ODDS AND ENDS
attracted 450 entries.
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
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.
bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Thursday, June 30th. The national anthem of Pakistan will be
played in honor of his victory.
2011 WSOP STATISTICS
Through the conclusion
of Event #47 (Event #46 has not yet ended) the 2011 WSOP has attracted 53,468 combined
total entries. $94,768,935 in prize
money has been awarded to winners.
conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of nationality of gold bracelet
winners has been:
Through the conclusion
of this tournament, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:
Through the conclusion
of this tournament, the home-states of (American) winners have been:
New York (3)
conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of professional poker players to
semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets has been:
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, Mark Schmid, Jason
Mercier, Mikhail Lakhitov, Fabrice Soulier, Mitch Schock, Matt Jarvis, Justin
Pechie, Ben Lamb, Rep Porter, Andre Akkari
Semi-Pros (5): Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii Kovalchuk,
Eric Rosawig, Arkadiy Tsinis
Amateurs (6): Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays, James Hess, Kirk
Caldwell, Ken Griffin, Owais Ahmed
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 46 (sans event #46) events being won by pros or semi-pros.
conclusion of this tournament, the victories of nine of the
46 winners (20 percent) marked the first time the new champion had ever cashed
at the 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.
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).
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.
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:
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.
tournament records set at the 2011 WSOP (to date):
Heads-Up tournament prize pool in history ($3,040,000) – Event #2
live Omaha High-Low Split Tournament in history (925 entries) – Event #3
live Six-Handed tournament in poker history (1,920 entries) – Event #10
Deuce-to-Seven tournament prize pool in history ($1,184,400) – Event #16
live $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start
(3157 entries) – Event #18
live $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start
(3175 entries) – Event #20
consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,332 entries)
– Event #18 and Event #20
live Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in poker history (1,071 entries) – Event #22
Mixed-Game (Eight-Game Mix) in poker history (489 entries) – Event #23
Seniors tournament in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30
Seniors No-Limit Hold’em championship prize pool in history ($3,376,800) –
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,
Largest Mixed Pot-Limit tournament in history (606 entries) – Event
Biggest Pot-Limit Omaha prize pool in live poker history
($3,393,400) – Event #42
records set at the 2011 WSOP (to date):
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).
Hellmuth Jr. added to his record as the individual all-time leader in cashes
(83) 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 benefiting charity from the Bad Beat on Cancer.