Welcome Back Carter: Carter Phillips Becomes a Two-Time WSOP Gold Bracelet Winner with Event 31 Victory

Joe Cada Finishes Second: Main Event’s Youngest Champion Falls Short of Bracelet Number Two

Cherishing the Moment: Cherish Andrews Becomes the Ninth Female Final Table Participant at the 2012 WSOP

More than 9,700 Register for the Weekend’s Three Bracelet Events. Three-Day Attendance Record Shattered

2012 WSOP Eclipses Halfway Point with the Completion of Event 31.

June 19, 2012—Carter Phillips won Event #31, $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em at the 43rd Annual World Series of poker early Tuesday morning. He overcame the third-largest field at the 2012 WSOP thus far, besting more than 2,800 entrants to win $664,130 in prize money and the coveted WSOP gold bracelet.
After a lackluster WSOP last year, and a slow start this year, Phillips is rejuvenated by his most recent victory.
In his own words, Phillips played really poor poker at the WSOP last summer. His love for the game was diminishing and his patience was wearing thin. The tournament grind was becoming monotonous and he didn’t care if he won or lost.
“I knew I would rather not be in the poker world than doing that. School was an option for me,” Phillips said.

He dropped out in 2007 to pursue poker full-time, but is currently enrolled in classes for the Fall 2012 semester at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He has aspirations to study business, and hopes his poker winnings can help him with his own start-up company in the future.

In order to cash in on his most recent payday, Phillips had to best a final table that included 2009 Main Event champion Joe Cada. The pair would play heads up for the better part of three hours before Phillips was finally crowned champion.

“Joe is probably one of the toughest opponents I could have been playing. I knew coming into today if I was going to make it deep in this, then he was going to be my biggest threat,” Phillips would say about his adversary.

This gold bracelet victory marks the second of Phillips’ young career. At only 23-years-old, the poker pro from Charlotte, North Carolina won his first bracelet in 2010 at the ripe age of 21 when he beat 1,663 players in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed tournament to win $482,774.

Name: Carter Phillips

Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia

Age: 23

Current Residence: Charlotte, North Carolina

Marital Status: Single

Children: None

Education: Dropped out of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in 2007 to play poker professionally, but is registered for classes for the Fall 2012 semester with aspirations to study business.

Number of WSOP Cashes: 5

Number of WSOP final table appearances: 3

Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 2

Best Previous WSOP finish: 1st, Event #16, 2010 WSOP, $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed

Total WSOP Earnings: $1,219,932

Day 2 of the three-day tournament concluded with 19 players left vying for a shot at WSOP gold. Cada, 2009 Main Event champion, stood above the rest but had the likes of Cherish Andrews, 2010 bracelet winner, Phillips, WSOP Circuit champion Huy Quach, two-time WSOP bracelet winner J.C. Tran and three-time WSOP Circuit champion Dwyte Pilgrim on his heels.
After four hours of Day 3 play, the field trimmed to just nine remaining players.

Seat 1 – Michael Aron – 1,645,000 chips
Seat 2 – Najib Kamand – 1,480,000 chips
Seat 3 – Tom Chambers – 2,575,000 chips
Seat 4 – Joe Cada – 720,000 chips
Seat 5 – Jonathan Poche – 830,000 chips
Seat 6 – Huy Quach – 1,955,000 chips
Seat 7 – Maximilian Lehmanski – 1,475,000 chips
Seat 8 – Cherish Andrews – 955,000 chips
Seat 9 – Carter Phillips – 1,025,000 chips
J.C Tran (12th) and Dwyte Pilgrim (11th) were notable final table absences.
Andrews, a 22-year-old poker pro from Saint Thomas, Pennsylvania, became the ninth female to make a final table appearance at the 2012 WSOP. Her eventual fourth place finish came at the hands of Cada. She was awarded $210,083.
Unfortunately for Cada, he not only dished out a knock-out punch, he also received one. After about three hours of heads-up play, Cada succumbed to Phillips, finishing second for $412,424.  Had Cada been able to outlast Phillips heads up, he would have become the first Main Event champion of the post-Moneymaker era to win a bracelet.
On a board of      Phillips moved all-in holding a set of nines and Cada called with   , leaving him drawing dead. The hand left Cada on life support, holding less than a million in chips and leaving Phillips with better than 11 million.
The final hand played out a short time later when Cada moved all-in on the button with    and Phillips called holding   . Cada never improved, and his hopes of bracelet number two were taken away at the hands of Phillips.

Q: How does it feel to get bracelet number two?
A: It feels amazing. This confirms my place in the poker world for me. Bracelet number one felt good because it was new and exciting, but bracelet number two -- there’s not as many people that have two, so this feels really good right now.

Q: Does winning bracelet number two feel better than winning number one for that reason?
A: I think it does feel better for me. This one is more important. Not that many people have two, so it’s a greater accomplishment than (my) first.

Q: Talk about playing 2009 Main Event champion Joe Cada heads up.
A: Joe is probably one of the toughest opponents I could be playing. I knew coming into today that if I was going to make it deep in this, then he was going to be my biggest threat. Heads up was tough. There was a lot of three-betting and a lot of different situations going on. I was lucky to come out on top.

Q: Earlier you mentioned poker had taken a backseat in your life this past year and you were getting a little discouraged.
A: I was feeling pretty bad about poker because I didn’t enjoy the game at all. I played four years in a row for a living before I ever took a break. That wears on you. When I was traveling at my most I was staying in hotels all the time. Airplanes, airports -- no place that was home, basically. I had a chance to go back to school and refresh and refocus. It made me a better poker player this summer I think.

Q: Do you think this win will refresh you and give you a new outlook toward poker?
A: I think so. I’m currently registered for next year’s classes (at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte), and I’ll probably still stick with that. I still have the love for (poker) though, and this has brought it back for me. I’ll keep playing in the future.

Q: What inspired you to go back to school and get your degree?
A: It was basically that loss of love for the game of poker and for playing it. I remember last summer, I didn’t really go on a down swing or anything during the Series, I just played really bad in every tournament. That was because I didn’t care if I was in them. I knew that I would rather not be in the poker world than doing that. School was an option for me.

Q: What might you want to do in the future if poker falls out of your favor again?
A: I’ve always said since I’ve got the winnings from poker to open up a business if I wanted to, I was thinking about going into business and learning about that. Then whenever an idea hits me, open one up.

Q: Talk about the swings of the heads-up match.
A: It was kind of tough. It was frustrating at times. I had gotten him all-in for his tournament life in flipping situations a couple times and I couldn’t seem to hit any of them. I was really confident in my game and all my decisions. I knew that if I stuck with it I’d eventually (deliver) the knock-out blow.

Q: When you won EPT Barcelona, you were very emotional and very appreciative of the situation. Tonight I feel like we see a different level of appreciation. Can you talk me through the dichotomy of those two states?
A: At EPT Barcelona, I still didn’t really have the support of my family and friends. I think the reason I was so emotional when that happened was because I realized, ‘Oh. Winning $1.2 million. That’s going to show people I can do this for a living and I can make it in the poker world.’ As you guys know, it’s not the most acceptable thing to do for a living. Obviously I proved to people I can do it for a living over the past couple years with my results. This (win) is more of putting me in a higher standing in the poker world.

Q: Given your recent results, do you have the full support from your family and friends now?
A: It’s funny. You know how parents and friends are. I started off the Series kind of bad. I wasn’t even down that much, but they were like, ‘Oh, you better watch out.’ You know how parents are. I’m sure they’re very happy tonight and I love them and thank them for their support. You just sometimes have to bear with them when they don’t understand.


This was classified as WSOP schedule Event #31, since it’s the thirty-first gold bracelet of 61 to be awarded this summer in Las Vegas. The tournament was played over three consecutive days and nights, starting Saturday, June 16th at noon and concluding early Tuesday morning.

The final table began at 5:30 p.m and played out simultaneously with the final table of Event #32, $10,000 H.O.R.S.E.

-- by Lukas M. Willems